Stanza: Characteristics, Types, Examples

A stanza is each of the parts in which a poem is divided or structured. It can be said that it is the set of verses in a poem. Another way to define it is as a group of variable verses that are generally separated from other similar ones by means of a punctuation mark, such as a semicolon or a full stop, or also by a blank area within the poem.

On the other hand, the stanza is made up of a variable number of verses throughout the poem and these can be similar in terms of meter, rhythm, rhyme and number of verses. One way to recognize the stanzas within a poetic work is because they are distanced from each other, just as if they were the paragraphs of a text.

stanza by Miguel Hernández

The stanza can be made up of free verses, which are present when there is no rhyme or adjustment of the meter. There are also those that are made up of white verses, these originate when there is meter, but the rhyme is absent. The stanza is part of the poems, hymns, and songs.

It is important to bear in mind that the verses are classified by their metric, if they have eight or fewer syllables they are called “minor art verses”. Now, if the meter of the verse exceeds eight syllables, these are called “verses of major art.”

It should also be noted that letters are used when indicating the rhyme between the verses. They are written lowercase if they are of minor art or uppercase if they are of major art. For example, if the first rhymes with the fourth and the second with the third and they are of minor art, then it is written “abba”, but if they are of major art it is written ABBA.

Characteristics of the stanza

The stanza is characterized by the following elements:

– Every stanza is made up of two or more verses.

– It is composed by the meter, the rhyme and the rhythm.

– You can have free, single or blank verses.

– The stanza is necessary in all poetic work.

– A stanza ends with a full stop.

Every stanza is classified according to the number of verses that make it up.

Types of stanzas

The stanza varies according to the number of verses that compose it:

– Two verses

As its name implies, this variety of stanzas consists of only two verses. These include:

Semi-detached

They are of major or minor art and of consonant or assonance rhyme, according to the author’s taste.

Hallelujah

It presents the same characteristics as the couplet, only that its verses may have different metrics.

Joy

It can be presented in two formats:

– A verse of five syllables (pentasyllable) and another of ten syllables (decasyllable).

– A verse of six syllables (hexasílabo) and another of eleven syllables (hendecasílabo).

Both with assonance rhymes.

Elegiac couplet

It is made up of a hexameter (sixteen syllables) and a pentameter (fifteen syllables). Normally they make up the same communicative unit, and the pentameter usually responds to what is raised by the hexameter.

It is important to note that these types of stanzas belong to the Latin meter, and here the rhyme does not matter so much, but the rhythm.

– Three verses

Among these types of stanzas are:

Third parties

The verses of this stanza are of major art and its rhyme is usually consonant, leaving the middle verse loose: A – A (it is important to keep in mind that the “-” indicates a loose verse).

Third

As his name implies, he is the younger brother of the triplet. His verses are octosyllabic minor art and rhyme consonant between the first and third lines: a – a.

Soleá

This stanza is an assonance rhyming octosyllable between the first and third lines, also leaving the second line loose: a – a. It is very popular in Andalusian culture.

– Four verses

As the name implies, they have only four verses. In this variety of stanzas enter the following:

Quartets

They are of major art and ABBA consonant rhyme.

Round

This stanza is of minor art (octosyllables) and generally presents consonant rhyme abba.

Serventesio

This stanza is of major art and generally features ABAB consonant rhyme.

Quatrain

This stanza is of minor art (octosyllables) and generally presents consonant rhyme abab.

Couplet

This stanza presents minor art verses (pentasyllables, hexasyllables, heptasyllables, octosyllables, depending on the region and the author’s tastes) with assonance rhyme in the even verses: –a – a (remember that the “-” indicates that this verse does not rhyme with no other).

Seguidilla

This stanza is minor art. Its even verses have five syllables (pentasyllables) and rhyme with each other assonance, while its odd verses have seven syllables (heptasyllables) and do not rhyme with each other (–a – a).

Sash

This stanza was widely used by medieval Spanish clergymen. It is of major art with Alexandrian verses that all rhyme the same (AAAA).

The interesting thing is that the verses internally have a pause made by a comma or period that separates them into two fragments of seven syllables each; these fragments are known as “hemistichs”.

– Five verses

The stanzas composed of five verses are made up of:

Limerick

This stanza is usually minor art and presents three interesting conditions. The first, that no verse can be left loose; the second, that there cannot be three consecutive rhymes; and the third, that it does not end in a couplet, that is, with two consecutive rhymes at the end (abbaa).

As described in the previous paragraph, the rhymes can be: “aabba”, “ababa”, “aabab”, but not “aaabb”, “abbaa” or “aa-bb”. Remember that the “-” represents the single verse.

Lira

It features heptasyllable minor art verses (first, third and fourth) and hendecasyllable major art verses (second and fifth). Assonance or consonant rhyme aBabB.

Limerick hendecasyllable or royal limerick

It has the same qualities as limerick, except that in this case the verses are hendecasyllable, as its name indicates.

Quintet

This stanza is made up of variable verses of major art (hendecasyllables, dodecasyllables, eneasyllables), generally, and that present consonant rhyme with each other. It has the same conditions as limerick.

Major Art Quintet

As its name indicates, its verses are of major art, but it does not follow the conditions of the limerick, so it can have more than two rhymes in a row. For example: AAABB, AABBB or ABBBA.

– Six verses

The six-line stanzas can be as follows:

Sextet or sestina

These are characterized by being of major art, having ABABCC consonant rhyme and a variable metric.

Sextilla

They are of minor art (commonly eight syllables) with variable rhyme and without individual verses. The most popular rhymes are ababab and aabccb.

Broken foot couplet or Manrique couplet

It stands out for having octosyllabic and tetrasyllable verses, and abcabc consonant rhyme. In these stanzas, what is known as “broken foot” is presented, that is, those tetrasyllable verses, which are located every two verses (the rhyme c. See in the examples).

– Eight verses

The eight-line stanzas can be classified as follows:

Royal Octave

This stanza is also known as the eighth rhyme, it is characterized by being made up of eight hendecasyllable verses. The first six stand out for a variable rhyme, while the last two constitute a couplet. For example: ABABABCC or ABCABCDD.

Italian eighth

This type of stanza is made up of eight verses of major art and consonant rhyme. The general rule is that the second verse rhymes with the third, the sixth with the seventh, and the fourth with the eighth, while lines one and five remain loose; that is: –AAB – CCB.

Pamphlet

It is similar to the Italian octave in terms of the rhyme of the verses, but it varies as it is of minor art. That is –aab – ccb.

Copla de arte mayor

This stanza is characterized by having a consonant rhyme ABBAACCA (although also ABABBCCB) and being made up of twelve-syllable verses.

– Ten verses

These types of stanzas are called tenths and are characterized, for the most part, by having a consonant rhyme and verses of minor art. Among the most famous and used today in Latin America, the tenth spinel stands out, devised by Vicente Espinel. This is rhyming consonant (abbaaccddc) and eight syllable verses.

At the moment tenths can be found with assonance rhymes and verses of major art.

– Fourteen verses

This variety of stanzas can be:

Sonnet

It is made up of fourteen verses of major art, usually hendecasyllables. This stanza is divided into two quartets and two triplets with rhyme “ABBA: ABBA: CDE: CDE”. The “:” indicate the separation of the stanzas. It is common for triplets to also appear like this: “CDE: DCE” or “CDC: DCD”.

Sonnet

This stanza is made up of fourteen verses of minor art (octosyllables), which are distributed in the same way as the sonnet in two quartets and two triplets. Its rhyme is “abba: abba: cde: cde”.

Examples of stanzas

Sonnet

Chess II by Jorge Luis Borges

“Tenuous king, bishop bias, fierce

queen, direct rook and ladino pawn

on the black and white of the road

they seek and fight their armed battle.

(Verse 1)

They don’t know that the pointed hand

of the player governs his destiny,

they do not know that an adamantine rigor

subject his agency and his journey.

(Verse 2)

The player is also a prisoner

(the sentence is from Omar) from another board

of black nights and white days.

(Verse 3)

God moves the player, and the player the piece.

What god behind god does the plot begin

of dust and time and sleep and agonies? ”.

(Verse 4)

Quartet

While competing with your hair from Luis de Góngora

“While for competing with your hair,

sun- burnished gold gleams in vain;

while with contempt in the middle of the plain

look at your white forehead the beautiful lilio … “.

Limerick

To the Mexican nightingale by Antonio Acuña

“There was a jungle and a nest

and in that nest a goldfinch

how happy and shaken,

after a dear dream

crossed the whole world ”.

Sextilla

The sanctity of the death of Amado Nervo

“Deep placidity, submissive

to the law, and in the gentle

short mouth, a smile

enigmatic, subtle,

illuminating, indecisive,

ivory complexion ”.

Royal Octave

The devil world of José de Espronceda

“Bliss is dreaming when awake dreams

the heart of man his hope,

his mind flatters the smiling illusion,

and the present good reaches to the future;

and after the airy and luminous shows

of enthusiasm, the spirit is launched

under a sky of light and colors,

fields painting with fragrant flowers ”.

Broken foot couplet or Manrique couplet

Coplas to the death of his father by Jorge Manrique

“We leave when we are born,

we walk while we live,

and we arrived

as we pass away,

So when we die

we rested”.

References

  1. (2019). Spain: Wikipedia. Recovered from: es.wikipedia.org.
  2. Coelho, F. (2019). Meaning of stanza. (N / a): Meanings. Recovered from: meanings.com.
  3. Raffino, M. (2018). Stanza concept. (N / a): Concept. From. Recovered from: concept.de.
  4. Harlan, C. (2018). Verse  (N / a): About Español. Recovered from: aboutespanol.com.
  5. Maza, M. (2018). Types of stanza in a poem. (N / a): A Professor. Recovered from: unprofesor.com.

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