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Heroic verse

Heroic \He*ro"ic\, a. [F. h['e]ro["i]que, L. hero["i]cus, Gr. ?.]

  1. Of or pertaining to, or like, a hero; of the nature of heroes; distinguished by the existence of heroes; as, the heroic age; an heroic people; heroic valor.

  2. Worthy of a hero; bold; daring; brave; illustrious; as, heroic action; heroic enterprises.

  3. (Sculpture & Painting) Larger than life size, but smaller than colossal; -- said of the representation of a human figure.

    Heroic Age, the age when the heroes, or those called the children of the gods, are supposed to have lived.

    Heroic poetry, that which celebrates the deeds of a hero; epic poetry.

    Heroic treatment or Heroic remedies (Med.), treatment or remedies of a severe character, suited to a desperate case.

    Heroic verse (Pros.), the verse of heroic or epic poetry, being in English, German, and Italian the iambic of ten syllables; in French the iambic of twelve syllables; and in classic poetry the hexameter.

    Syn: Brave; intrepid; courageous; daring; valiant; bold; gallant; fearless; enterprising; noble; magnanimous; illustrious.

Heroic verse

Verse \Verse\, n. [OE. vers, AS. fers, L. versus a line in writing, and, in poetry, a verse, from vertere, versum, to turn, to turn round; akin to E. worth to become: cf. F. vers. See Worth to become, and cf. Advertise, Averse, Controversy, Convert, Divers, Invert, Obverse, Prose, Suzerain, Vortex.]

  1. A line consisting of a certain number of metrical feet (see Foot, n., 9) disposed according to metrical rules.

    Note: Verses are of various kinds, as hexameter, pentameter, tetrameter, etc., according to the number of feet in each. A verse of twelve syllables is called an Alexandrine. Two or more verses form a stanza or strophe.

  2. Metrical arrangement and language; that which is composed in metrical form; versification; poetry.

    Such prompt eloquence Flowed from their lips in prose or numerous verse.

    Virtue was taught in verse.

    Verse embalms virtue.

  3. A short division of any composition. Specifically:

    1. A stanza; a stave; as, a hymn of four verses.

      Note: Although this use of verse is common, it is objectionable, because not always distinguishable from the stricter use in the sense of a line.

    2. (Script.) One of the short divisions of the chapters in the Old and New Testaments.

      Note: The author of the division of the Old Testament into verses is not ascertained. The New Testament was divided into verses by Robert Stephens [or Estienne], a French printer. This arrangement appeared for the first time in an edition printed at Geneva, in 1551.

    3. (Mus.) A portion of an anthem to be performed by a single voice to each part.

  4. A piece of poetry. ``This verse be thine.''

    Blank verse, poetry in which the lines do not end in rhymes.

    Heroic verse. See under Heroic.

heroic verse

n. any of several forms of verse used in epic or dramatic poetry

heroic verse

n. a verse form suited to the treatment of heroic or elevated themes; dactylic hexameter or iambic pentameter [syn: heroic meter, heroic]

Heroic verse

Heroic verse consists of the rhymed iambic line or heroic couplet. The term is used in English exclusively.

In ancient literature, heroic verse was synonymous with the dactylic hexameter. It was in this measure that those typically heroic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey and the Aeneid were written. In English, however, it was not enough to designate a single line of iambic pentameter (an iambic line of five beats) as heroic verse, because it was necessary to distinguish blank verse from the distich, which was formed by the heroic couplet. This had escaped the notice of Dryden, when he wrote "The English Verse, which we call Heroic, consists of no more than ten syllables." What Dryden should have said is "consists of two rhymed lines, each of ten syllables."

In French the alexandrine has always been regarded as the heroic measure of that language. The dactylic movement of the heroic line in ancient Greek, the famous ρυθμός ἥρώος, or "heroic rhythm", of Homer, is expressed in modern Europe by the iambic movement. The consequence is that much of the rush and energy of the antique verse, which at vigorous moments was like the charge of a battalion, is lost. It is owing to this, in part, that the heroic couplet is so often required to give, in translation, the full value of a single Homeric hexameter.

It is important to insist that it is the couplet, not the single line, which constitutes heroic verse. It is interesting to note that the Latin poet Ennius, as reported by Cicero, called the heroic metre of one line versum longum, to distinguish it from the brevity of lyrical measures.

The current form of English heroic verse appears to be the invention of Chaucer, who used it in his Legend of Good Women and afterwards, with still greater freedom, in the Canterbury Tales. Here is an example of it in its earliest development:

And thus the lone day in fight they spend, Till, at the last, as everything hath end, Anton is shent, and put him to the flight, And all his folk to go, as best go might."

This way of writing was misunderstood and neglected by Chaucer's English disciples, but was followed nearly a century later by the Scottish poet, called Blind Harry (c. 1475), whose The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace holds an important place in the history of versification as having passed on the tradition of the heroic couplet. Another Scottish poet, Gavin Douglas, selected heroic verse for his translation of the Aeneid (1513), and displayed, in such examples as the following, a skill which left little room for improvement at the hands of later poets:

One sang, "The ship sails over the salt foam, Will bring the merchants and my leman home"; Some other sings, "I will be blithe and light, Mine heart is leant upon so goodly wight."

The verse so successfully mastered was, however, not very generally used for heroic purposes in Tudor literature. The early poets of the revival, and Spenser and Shakespeare after them, greatly preferred stanzaic forms. For dramatic purposes blank verse was almost exclusively used, although the French had adopted the rhymed alexandrine for their plays.

In the earlier half of the 17th century, heroic verse was often put to somewhat unheroic purposes, mainly in prologues and epilogues, or other short poems of occasion; but it was nobly redeemed by Marlowe in his Hero and Leander and respectably by Browne in his Britannia's Pastorals. Those Elizabethans who, like Chapman, Warner and Drayton, aimed at producing a warlike and Homeric effect, however, did so in shambling fourteen-syllable couplets. The one heroic poem of that age written at considerable length in the appropriate national metre is the Bosworth Field of Sir John Beaumont (1582-1628).

Since the middle of the 17th century, when heroic verse became the typical and for a while almost the solitary form in which serious English poetry was written, its history has known many vicissitudes. After having been the principal instrument of Dryden and Pope, it was almost entirely rejected by Wordsworth and Coleridge, but revised, with various modifications, by Byron, Shelley (in Julian and Maddalo) and Keats (in Lamia). In the second half of the 19th century its prestige was restored by the brilliant work of Swinburne in Tristram and elsewhere.

Usage examples of "heroic verse".

Courses are given on Old English heroic verse, the history of English*, various Old English and Middle English texts*, Old and Middle English philology*, introductory Germanic philology*, Gothic, Old Icelandic (a second-year* and third-year course), and Medieval Welsh*.

Imitation is only a kind of play or sport, and the tragic poets, whether they write in iambic or in heroic verse, are imitators in the highest degree?

Both he and Zadin had served their countries well, but as is too often the case, conduct which in another time or place might have inspired the heroic verse of a Virgil or a Tennyson went unseen and unknown.

Blair, in his 38th lecture, explains and illustrates with admirable perspicuity the importance of the caesura's location in varying the flow of heroic verse.

Less obstinate, and even less dangerous, combats have been described in good heroic verse.