Heroic Couplet (254 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


A couplet of two lines of iambic pentameter with the same end rhymes and forming a logical whole. The heroic couplet was especially popular in the eighteenth century where its extreme formal order was used to turn contradictions into balanced antitheses. In the following extract from his “Epistle to Burlington”, Pope provides both a splendidly balanced example of writing in heroic couplets and an aesthetic rationale for neoclassical landscape gardening:

To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
In all, let nature never be forgot.
But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
Nor over-dress, nor leave …

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Editors. "Heroic Couplet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001
[https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=508, accessed 20 January 2018.]

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