vers libre (n.)Related entries & more
1902, from French, literally "free verse," lines of varying length.
I remarked some years ago, in speaking of vers libre, that 'no vers is libre for the man who wants to do a good job.' The term, which fifty years ago had an exact meaning in relation to the French alexandrine, now means too much to mean anything at all. [T.S. Eliot, introduction to "Selected Poems of Ezra Pound," 1928]
free verse (n.)Related entries & more
1869; Englishing of vers libre.
But it is possible that excessive devotion to rhyme has thickened the modern ear. The rejection of rhyme is not a leap at facility; on the contrary, it imposes a much severer strain upon the language. When the comforting echo of rhyme is removed, success or failure in the choice of words, in the sentence structure, in the order, is at once more apparent. Rhyme removed, the poet is at once held up to the standards of prose. Rhyme removed, much ethereal music leaps up from the word, music which has hitherto chirped unnoticed in the expanse of prose. [T.S. Eliot, "Reflections on Vers libre," New Statesman, 3 March 1917]