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History of Couplets


Couplets are paired lines that usually rhyme, it is common for groups of couplets to be combined to make up stanzas in poetry. The couplet has held its place of importance for centuries, appearing early in both Greece and Asia, and still found today in popular poetry and songs.

Elegiac Couplets

The couplet in Greek works was known as the elegiac couplet. It is the form used in the Latin love elegy and other types of poetry dating back into the 3rd century B.C. Plato considered poets dangerous because people might listen to them and take their views seriously.

Chinese Couplet

The Antithetical Couplet or a Pillar Poster s derived from Chinese characters and literature. Couplets serve three purposes: for well wishing others, decoration, and improving language skills. Spring couplets offer good wishes at the New Year or other special occasions. Couplets used for decoration are hung outside or inside homes and businesses.

History of Pillar Posters

The tradition of hanging Pillar Posters dates back to the Qin and Han dynasties when they were used to dispel evil spirits, simpler versions arrived during Five Dynasties (907-960). Spring couplets emerged in 964 also during the Five Dynasties. In the centuries that followed, as people traveled, the Chinese couplet traveled with them to Korea, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.

Heroic Couplets

Heroic Couplets were a dominant force in poetry in poetry written in English. They reigned for 150 years from 1630 to 1780 throughout the British and American literature. The heroic couplet is the only poetry form that has enjoyed this kind of popularity. These poems reflected the politics, aesthetics, ethics, morals, and economic issues of their day. Couplets fell in popularity during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Writers and Works

There are particular writers who are still recognized for their work with couplets. Geoffrey Chaucer was famous for his work "The Canterbury Tales." The poet and playwright William Shakespeare used the couplet form in his poetry. John Dryden translate works by Virgil including "The Aeneid" implementing couplets in the work. Alexander Pope translated "The Iliad" by Homer; this work also used the couplet.