Is there a general name for poetic forms that consist entirely of pairs of rhymed lines, i.e. where the rhyme scheme goes aabbccdd..., and the rhyming lines do not necessarily have the same meter.

For example: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/prisoner-zenda

I vaguely remember once coming across the term I'm looking for, but now I cannot find it again. All I can find are more specific terms, like "Alexandrine couplets" or "heroic couplets".

I suppose "couplets" may be the best I'll get, but I find it unsatisfactory. For one thing, "couplet" refers to individual pairs of lines, rather than to a form. (E.g. a sonnet may end in a couplet, but it does not have the form aabbccdd....) Moreover, I gather that the term "couplet" implies that the paired lines not only rhyme but also have the same meter. Finally, "couplet" may apply to pairs of non-adjacent lines that rhyme (e.g. ababcdcd...)

The level of generality I'm after is similar to that of the term "blank verse". (I.e. it encompasses many specific forms.)

(I hope the answer to this question is not "doggerel.")

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    I don't think "couplet" would apply to non-adjacent lines. "Couplet" also implies (to my mind) matching meter; you are seeking a term for a broader form. I suspect "couplet" is as close as you are likely to get for standard terminology, though you could perhaps use an adjective to indicate the dropping of the metrical matching requirement (e.g., "generic couplets", though "generic couplets" might imply unspecified matching meter, or (more playfully) perhaps "unruled couplets", though that implies mismatched meter) or you could explicitly emphasize the rhyme by using "coupled rhyme". Dec 7, 2015 at 17:38
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    I searched, and the closest form I could find is called a Couplet Sonnet. See approximately three-quarters of the way down fvoconnorsbooks.com/_i_sonnet_forms__i__67208.htm
    – rolfedh
    Jan 2, 2016 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


Poetic forms an interesting subject because in recent times, new forms have been developed. These new forms have begun infiltrating the mainstream traditional forms.

Traditionally, any eight-line poem is called an octave. An octave is a basic poetic form. There are variations on the octave based on rhyme scheme and meter.

The closest form to your specification and the poem you used in your explanation is a Strambotto; it's a Sicilian peasant song form. Of the Strambottos, the one with that specific rhyme scheme is either the Tuscano or Romanguolo.

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