In poetry, a couplet is a pair of lines in a verse. Typically, they rhyme and have the same meter or rhythm. They make up a unit or complete thought. Expand your poetic mind through a definition of rhyming couplets and rhyming couplet examples.
Before you dive right into rhyming couplet examples, you need to have a solid definition of what a rhyming couplet is. To understand what a rhyming couplet is, you just have to look at the phrase: rhyming couplet.
- rhyming - a word or phrase that ends on the same sound
- couplet - two lines
So a rhyming couplet is two similar lines of poetry that end on the same sound. Since it can be easier to see things in action, check out a rhyming couplet example.
She / was / a / lit / tle / tense
The / no / tice / made / no / sense
You'll notice that the two lines of poetry are similar in length. Both have six syllables and the words tense and sense rhyme. Well, that is a rhyming couplet at play. Explore this poetic device more through several rhyming couplet examples.
Dive into these short little rhyming couplets. Some are even part of nursery rhymes. Try to count the syllables for each one and see if they match up!
- I saw a little hermit crab
His coloring was oh so drab
- It's hard to see the butterfly
Because he flies across the sky
- Hear the honking of the goose
I think he's angry at the moose
- His red sports car is just a dream
It needs no gas, it runs on steam
- The children like the ocean shore
We want to leave but they want more
- I made the cookies one by one
I hear the bell, so they are done
- My cat, she likes to chase a mouse,
Especially one that's in the house
- Lightning, thunder, all around
Soon the rain falls on the ground
- I tire of writing poems and rhyme
I think I need vacation time
- Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack jump over the candlestick
Rhyming couplets don't just stand alone. They can be part of large famous works like those from literary wordsmiths such as Pope and Dryden. Explore a few classic couplet examples created by poetry masters.
- "Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;" - "An Essay on Criticism," Alexander Pope
- "Is it less strange, the prodigal should waste
His wealth to purchase what he ne'er can taste?" - "Epistles to Several Persons," Alexander Pope
- "O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme!" - "Cooper's Hill," John Denham
- "Time and Death shall depart, and say in flying,
Love has found out a way to live, by dying." - "One Happy Moment," John Dryden
- "So, lovers dream a rich and long delight,
But get a winter-seeming summer's night." - "Love's Alchemy," John Donne
One of the greatest wordsmiths of all time, William Shakespeare, who's actually credited with creating English words, also liked to add a couplet or two to his writing. Explore some of the great couplets found in Shakespeare's famous plays and poems.
- "The time is out of joint, O cursed spite
That ever I was born to set it right!" - Hamlet
- "This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him only lacks a cover." - Romeo and Juliet
- "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." - A Midsummer Night's Dream
- "For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds." - "Sonnet 94"
- "Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter
In sleep a king, but waking no such matter." - "Sonnet 87"
Now you can see how rhyming couplets work. Thanks to their short and succinct form, they are a good way to produce a startling or dramatic effect in a poem or provide a sense of completion to the piece. For more on the use of couplets, see famous couplet examples.