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Lesson Plan

Blank Verse

Blank verse is poetry that follows a set rhythm (like five main beats per line) but does not follow a rhyme scheme. Here is a beautiful example from Robert Frost's "Birches":


When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay
As ice storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.


The poet both narrates and describes the experience of witnessing a birch forest after a winter rain that has covered the trees with a coating of ice. The poem has five main stresses per line as in the following line (stressed words are in bold):

When I see birches bend to left and right

Because the poem has five main stresses per line, poets call this rhythm iambic pentameter—the most common rhythm in all of poetry. Because the lines do not rhyme, this is blank verse and not formal verse.

Student Assignment

Write a blank verse poem by following the above model and definition using the Freestyle mode on