Free Verse

 
Free Verse

 

Study Guide

At the end of this unit you will be able to:

 

  • identify poetry written in free verse

 

Free verse is just what it says it is - poetry that is written without proper rules about form, rhyme, rhythm, meter, etc. The greatest American writer of free verse is probably Walt Whitman. His great collection of free verse was titled Leaves of Grass and it was published in 1855.

 

In free verse the writer makes his/her own rules. The writer decides how the poem should look, feel, and sound. Henry David Thoreau, a great philosopher, explained it this way, ". . . perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." It may take you a while to "hear your own drummer," but free verse can be a great way to "get things off your chest" and express what you really feel.

 

Here are some examples:

 

Winter Poem

 

Nikki Giovanni

 

once a snowflake fell
on my brow and i loved
it so much and i kissed
it and it was happy and called its cousins
and brothers and a web
of snow engulfed me then
i reached to love them all
and i squeezed them and they became
a spring rain and i stood perfectly
still and was a flower