Next Line, Please

The Couplet


By David Lehman

October 14, 2014



The couplet was the building block of major English poems by Alexander Pope (“The Rape of the Lock”), John Keats (“Endymion”), and many others. The heroic or closed couplet has the virtue of being able to stand alone, abstracted from a larger work. The writing of a couplet can therefore be an end in itself—or it can prove to be the opening unit of a longer work.

Here’s an example from Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Criticism”:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.

Or consider the conclusion of Shakespeare’s sonnet #73:

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Write a rhyming couplet in which one of the end words is “fall.” The lines can be of uneven length but should mention at least one autumnal color (yellow, red, orange, or brown).

Deadline: midnight, Sunday, October 18th.

Please leave your couplet in a comment below. We cannot consider submissions from other venues.

David Lehman is a poet and the general editor of The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.

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