Free verse poem is one of the examples of Free Literature. Such poems are free from limitations of the regular meter (the rhythm of the word) or any special structure. Although such poems do not follow any regular rhyme scheme rule, they still reflect artistic expression. By this way, a poet can personalize his masterpieces in his own favor. Besides, the poets are allowed to use alliteration, cadences or rhyme to create the effects that are suitable for their piece. According to Robert Frost, ‘writing free verse’ means ‘playing tennis without a net’.
You might be wondering, ‘If free verse does not have a meter or rhyme, how is it different from prose, or ordinary spoken or written word?’ Firstly, free verse follows conventional poetry in which has intentional line breaks. The lines, which are very short and irregular, at least give free verse poems the appearance of poetry.
In free verse poem, the line breaks where the reader wants to pause, improving the overall performance of the verse. These poems also depend on devices that put them apart from daily languages, such as the parallelism, similar grammatical constructions, and the repetition of sounds and images. Hence, although free verse might use some of the same conversational cadences as prose, it is still poetry due to its line breaks and the use of other poetic devices.
It is important to know that free verse can be easily confused with blank verse – a different type of poetry. Verse poetry is poetry that includes both a rhyme scheme and a consistent meter. In contrast, blank verse is poetry that is based on unrhymed lines and a definite meter. Thus, both free verse and blank verse are free from rhyme scheme. However, whereas blank verse has a consistent meter (normally the iambic parameter, which creates a DUM rhythm effect), free verse is free from the meter. It does not follow the limitations of verse poetry.
Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892) is regarded as the father of free verse English poetry. He wanted to create a category that broke the traditional poetry of Europe to establish uniquely American poetry. Therefore, he gave birth to free verse poetry to reach that aim. Whitman is the author of the famous collection of poems Leaves of Grass, which was published in 1855, a few years before the American Civil War.
Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) is renowned as the mother of American English free verse. Her poems do not have rhyme, musical patterns or consistent metrical patterns. Rather, it provides an artistic expression by following the rhythm of a natural speech.
Ezra Pound (1885 – 1972) is also well-known for writing free verse poetry. He put musical quality into the modern free verse poem. His poems are either stressed or unstressed patterns but still in a very clever way. We can see alliteration in words even though they are not following a regular rhyme scheme.