Stanza
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Stanza. Definition of Stanza. In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. Poems are generally written in closed form or open form. Closed form is where lines are equally arranged in fixed patterns of stress and rhyme.

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Stanza

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Stanza

Stanza


Definition of stanza

Definition of Stanza

  • In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. Poems are generally written in closed form or open form.

  • Closed form is where lines are equally arranged in fixed patterns of stress and rhyme.

  • Open form poetry uses lines of different length and doesn’t use patterns of rhyme or rhythm.

  • A stanza consists of a grouping of lines which is set off by a space, that usually has a set pattern of meter and rhyme.

  • Stanzas can be identified and grouped together because they share a rhyme scheme or a fixed number of lines such as in couplet, tercet, quatrain, quintain, sestet.


Names of stanzas

Names of Stanzas

  • Stanzas can be given a specific name depending on their structure and rhyme pattern such as:

  • 2-lines = Couplet

  • 3-lines = Tercet

  • 4-lines = Quatrain

  • 5-lines = Quintain

  • 6-lines = Sextain

  • 7-lines = Septet

  • 8-lines = Octave


What does stanza do

What does Stanza do?

  • The term stanza means “stopping place” in Italian. A stanza contains a set of lines in a poem which is set apart from other sets of lines by space. The break/space between stanzas generally indicates a pause between thoughts, concepts or actions.

  • Many poems are written without stanza breaks. These poems simply continue for however many lines the poem lasts. These poems can be called single-stanza poems.

  • Stanzas provide structure and format within a poem. Stanzas can make a poem more visually appealing, and poems can gain structure from the use of stanzas even without rhyme or meter.


Stanza in readings

Stanza in Readings

  • Linda Pastan’s “Ethics” on p659 is an example of single-stanza poem. There are no stanza breaks, and the line breaks follow a natural breathing or pausing pattern.


Stanza in readings1

Stanza in Readings

  • We real cool. WeLeft school. WeLurk late. WeStrike straight. WeSing sin. WeThin gin. WeJazz June. WeDie soon.

  • The “We” at the end of each line is not for the purpose of rhyme, but rhythm. "We Real Cool" has four stanzas, each of which is a two-line couplet. Every word in the poem has only one syllable. While many traditional couplets in poetry have a rhyme at the end of the line, this poem takes rhyming to a new level: the couplets rhyme in the middle. Such as "cool/school" in the first stanza, and "late/straight" in the second.


Your turn

Your turn

“Things” by Lisel Mueller

What happened is, we grew lonely

Living amoung the things,

So we gave the clock a face,

The chair a back,

The table four stout legs

Which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues

As smooth as our own

And hung tongues inside bells

So we could listen

To their emotional language,

And because we loved graceful profiles

The pitcher received a lip,

The bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us

Was recast in our image;

We gave the country a heart,

The storm an eye,

The cave a mouth

So we could pass into safety.

How many stanzas are in the poem?

What are the names to each stanza?


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