Free verse


Free verse is a form of poetry which does not follow the traditional constraints of metre, rhythm or rhyme-scheme and allows the natural structure of the spoken word to shape the poem. However writers of free verse may well utilise poetic devices such as rhythm, metaphor and alliteration to allow them to create tone and structure.


Modernist literary critics argue that it was Ezra Pound who first intentionally broke away from the traditional iambic pentameter of blank verse. T.S. Eliot is also credited with creating modern free verse.


  • The Garden by Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
             of a sort of emotional anaemia.

And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.
In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.

She would like some one to speak to her,
And is almost afraid that I
              will commit that indiscretion.     

  • William Carlos Williams(1883-1963) poem The Red Wheelbarrow  is another famous example of free verse:
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
It is evident that neither of these examples follows a strict format in terms of structure and rhyme. Instead they rely on the natural rhythms of speech, associative language and their visual form for poetic effect. Free verse is often seen to create a sense of simplicity which focuses the reader’s attention on the subject matter of the poem.
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