A heroic couplet is a rhymed pair of lines written in iambic pentameter, a meter commonly used in English poetry. Each line consists of ten syllables, alternating between unstressed and stressed syllables, creating a rhythmic pattern. The rhyming couplet emphasizes a sense of completion and closure at the end of each pair of lines.
The heroic couplet has been a popular form in English poetry, particularly during the Restoration and Augustan periods. It is associated with classical influences and often used for epic and narrative poetry, as well as satirical and didactic works. Notable poets who extensively used heroic couplets include Alexander Pope in works like “The Rape of the Lock” and “The Dunciad.”
Here’s an example of a heroic couplet from Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Criticism”:
“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”
In this excerpt, each pair of lines forms a complete thought, and the rhyming pattern (thing/spring) gives a sense of unity and balance. Heroic couplets are known for their clarity, regularity, and ability to convey concise and impactful statements within each couplet.