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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Free Verse

Definition:

"'Free Bird!' Play 'Free Bird!'" Oops, we meant "Free verse! Define free verse!"

Free verse is a poetic style that lacks a regular meter or rhyme scheme. This may sound like free verse has no style at all, but it totally does. We're talking serious swagger. Free verse poets just use different tools (like internal rhyme or a particular rhythm) to create that style.

Walt Whitman was one of the pioneers of free verse, and it has become super popular among contemporary poets like Li-Young Lee and Adrienne Rich.