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The Contender
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free verse is not poetry

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/16/2014 Category: Arts
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,101 times Debate No: 59068
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




colin leslie dean argues that free verse is not poetry as it is not in meter


Oromagi says the same when he criticizes colin leslie deans poetry for being bad as it is quote it has "...No sense of meter or verse."


Free verse is poetry. I believe this because poetry is considered an artistic expression laced with various forms of figurative language to get across a feeling or event. Serious examples of free verse use figurative language to express the concept and use a line-separation format not found in prose. To demonstrate this I will be using Emily Dickinson's "Come Slowly, Eden" as an example.

"Come slowly, Eden
Lips unused to thee.
Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
As the fainting bee.
Reaching late his flower,
Round the chamber hums
Counts his nectars - alights,
And is lost in balms!"
(as written in, compiled by Michael R. Burch)

Dickinson uses line spacing, as found in most other forms of poetry, to separate ideas. She also uses the simile "As the fainting bee" to paint a picture of the sipping of jasmines. In fact, it could be said the whole poem is a metaphor for paradise. She also very loosely uses alliteration in the lines "Reaching.../Round" and consonance with "hums...balms."

In short, although free verse may not fit the complete definition of poetry, it is much closer to it than prose and should be classified as such.
Debate Round No. 1


This debate is really simple as it just comes down to the definition of poetry and definition of free verse
The definitions show con that free verse is not poetry
If you don"t like the definitions that is just to bad

if you think you can define poetry any way you like then the term poetry looses all meaning

The debate comes down to what is the definition of poetry

So here is how poetry is defined

poetry is defined to be

1)a : metrical writing : verse

2): writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and RHYTHM

And rhythm is defined to be

"A strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound

Metre is defined to be

a : systematically arranged and measured rhythm in verse: (1) : rhythm that continuously repeats a single basic pattern (2) : rhythm characterized by regular recurrence of a systematic arrangement of basic patterns in larger figures

so from the above definitions poetry is writing that is in metre (ie rythymical ie repeated sounds)

Definition of free verse

free verse
1. (Poetry) unrhymed verse without a metrical pattern

thus from the definition of free verse "which is not in metre- free verse cannot be poetry-which is writing in metre/rhythm

if you think you can define poetry any way you like then the term poetry looses all meaning


You forget that dictionaries don't give the full meaning and descriptions of words. "Meticulous," for example, comes from the Latin root "metus" which means "fear," giving it an archaic but still somewhat relevant connotation of fear. Yet the New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as: "showing great attention to detail; very careful and precise." Even if you give dictionaries the benefit of the doubt and count their definitions as complete analysis, you still contradict yourself with the definition of free verse in which the first word is "poetry." The New Oxford American Dictionary also lists the term as "poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter."

Even so, the guidelines for poetry are more detailed than a one-sentence description. Although poetry has the qualities of meter and prose, it also has the guidelines of using figurative language (such as personification, similes, metaphors, hyperboles, alliteration, etc.), line spacing, stanzas, evocative writing, and a common theme, often about subjective experiences. Conversely, prose is the lack of most or all of these qualities. The issue of distinction is a "majority rules" verdict, not an "all or nothing" verdict.

Allow me to use simple everyday logic to demonstrate:
I see an object which I think may be a stove. Is it inside, like my stove? yes. Is it in a kitchen, like mine? Yes. Is it square, like mine? Yes. Does it have a timer, like mine? Yes. Does it produce heat for food, like mine? Yes. Is it red, like mine? No. Does it have five knobs, like mine? No. Although it doesn't fit all the criteria, I can reason it is a stove.

Furthermore, using "all or nothing" verdicts between poetry and prose means that haikus aren't poems because they don't rhyme and a quatrain isn't a poem because it doesn't have meter. Therefore, "majority rules" categorizing should be used for poems, making free-verse valid poetry because it meets most of the criteria of a poem.
Debate Round No. 2


I have given proof based on the definitions of poetry and free verse that free verse is n poetry

con says
"You forget that dictionaries don't give the full meaning and descriptions of words"
maybe so I but again I have shown that on the definitions of "poetry "and "free verse" that "free verse" is n poetry

con say
I "contradict yourself with the definition of free verse"
but free verse is a contradiction in terms
"free verse"
"free" means no metre
"verse" means writing in metre
so "free verse" writing
"no metred metred "writing
thus a contradiction in terms


You contradict yourself once again in the very beginning of this rebuttal. When quoting my line about dictionaries not giving full analyses of words, you say that you've shown definitions of poetry and free verse and that free verse. You seriously just said "Dictionaries don't give the full, correct meanings of words, but I'm giving a dictionary definition so it counts." You COMPLETELY disregarded the first part of your sentence and then use the first part of the sentence that you just admitted was wrong to prove a point! Because definitions don't give full meanings of words and the differences between classifications, *you cannot use a simplified form of two word definitions when some key aspects that connect the two are missing.*

As for the next paragraph, it doesn't matter the contradiction in the statement (I'll debunk that in a minute) as you cited a source that works *against* your statement, not *for* it. That's like a person who denies global warming linking an article that shows the effects of global warming as support for their point. Do you not see that your evidence disproves your own claim?

As for the contradiction in the term "free verse," you've severely misinterpreted the meaning of the words in the phrase. The seventh definition of "free" (in the adjective section, because it's used with a noun; just making sure there's no confusion) in the New Oxford American Dictionary is "7 (of a literary style) not observing the strict laws of form." So the term means "Not observing the strict laws of verse." There is no definition in the dictionary that says "free" means no meter, either. It's used like the word "not," it has no real meaning on its own until it's combined with another word to create a phrase, rendering contradictions impossible because of this dependency.

So, yes, in short, the term "free verse" makes perfect sense.

Also, you have no argument against my "majority rules" vs. "all or nothing" mentality point? Considering that was probably the most important part of my last argument I have a feeling that you're running out of valid points to counter mine.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by ThoughtsandThoughts 7 years ago
*that Oromagi has only lost - I shouldn't use a gender pronoun if I don't know their gender :P
Posted by ThoughtsandThoughts 7 years ago
Yes, I see that he's only lost two debates. However, the resolution of this debate isn't "Free verse poetry isn't good." It's "Free verse isn't poetry." I'd urge you to change it to something more like the former. Maybe... "The style of free verse poetry isn't effective or appealing." To be honest, I think the debate as it is would be a very easy win. I mean, it'd be great for me, but I don't want to be unfairly advantaged XD
Posted by shakuntala 7 years ago
you say
"Ooh, I feel a pang in my heart at the sight of this debate title D: I might accept this. Hmmm."

bear in mind you will be dissagreeing with Oromagi
Posted by ThoughtsandThoughts 7 years ago
What are the time and character limits per round?
Posted by ThoughtsandThoughts 7 years ago
Ooh, I feel a pang in my heart at the sight of this debate title D: I might accept this. Hmmm...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Uncaps issues. Con destroyed dict defs, used analogy to stov to prov FV = P.

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