Poetic Term: Heroic couplet, Rhyme royal, Ottava rima


Heroic couplet:  Two line of rhymed iambic pentameter is known as heroic couplet - a a   bb  cc  and so on . The term heroic is applied to it in the late 17th century when the frequent use of such couplets formed the heroic poems or epical poems andd heroic dramas. 

In English Chaucer is the innovator whose the Legend of Good women and must of The Canterbury Tales are written in the rhyme style. The other masters are Alexander Pope, Dryden, and Samuel Johnson etc.
 “No Then thyself presume no God to Scan;
 The proper study of mankind is man”
                        The Essay on Man                                                                                                                                                                                                      
                                              ---   Pope
 Rhyme royal:  This is one of the popular varieties of rhyme scheme. There is a seven line stanza in rhyme royal -- a b a b b c c. It looks as if a quatrain has been dovetailed onto two couplets. Rhyme royal was used by Chaucer for the first line in English in Troilus and Criseyde and then by Shakespeare in The Rape of Lucrece. However, royal name is derived from King James I of Scotland’s use of it in his poem The king's Book (1424).

Ottava rima  :  The origin of this rhyme scheme is Italian. Like Sonnet and terza rima it was also introduced in English by Wyatt in 16th century . The premier example of this verse form is Don Juan. The rhyme scheme of the eight line stanza is a b a b a b c c. It is noticeable that an extra rhyme has been introduced in the rhyme royal scheme. Here in ottava rima the single couplet at the end of the stanza gives a witty verbal snap to the foregoing section.

Exp:  " A long , long kiss , a kiss of youth and love ,
             And beauty , all concentrating like rays
             Into one focus , kindled from above ;
             such kisses as belong to early days ,
             where heart , and soul , and sense , in concert move ,
              And the blood's lava , and the pulse a blaze,
             Each kiss a heart - quake - for a kiss's strength ,
             I think it must be reckon'd by its length  "
                                                                        Don Juan
                                                                            By Lord Byron

Ardhendu De 


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