Heroic Couplets

Iambic pentameter verse that rhymes in couplets is known as "heroic verse" from its use in epic poetry in English, especially Dryden's translation of Virgil (1697) and Pope's translation of Homer (1715-26). But heroic couplets needn't be used in heroic verse. Although Pope's use of the form in his Iliad translation is well regarded, his reputation as the master of the heroic couplet comes also from un-heroic lines like these, from his Essay on Criticism:
A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first Sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts,
While from the bounded Level of our Mind,
Short Views we take, nor see the Lengths behind,
But more advanc'd, behold with strange Surprize
New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise!


From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
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Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
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