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A stanza is a related group of lines or verses in a poem. A stanza also can be a verse in paragraph form. They can keep on going without punctuation. It may also be a line in a poem.

Two most important features of a stanza is the number of lines and the rhyme-scheme. There are many kinds of stanza.

  • Two-line stanza (aa).
  • Three-line stanza (aaa).
  • Four-line stanza (aaaa, aabb, abab, abba)
  • Five-line stanza (for example ababb)
  • Six-line stanza (for example ababcc)
  • Seven-line stanza (for example ababbcc, it is called rhyme royal)
  • Eight-line stanza (for example abababcc, it is Italian ottava rima)
  • Nine-line stanza (for example ababbcbcc, it is Spenserian stanza)
  • Ten-line stanza (for example ababccdeed)

An Italian sonnet consists of two four-line stanzas and two three-line stanzas:

  • abba abba cdc dcd

A French ballad is composed of three eight-line stanzas and a four-line one:

  • ababbcbc ababbcbc ababbcbc bcbc

Some stanzas are named after poets, who invented or often used them. An example is Sapphic stanza that was named after famous Greek woman poet Sappho.

Bibliography[change | change source]

Joseph Berg Esenwein, Mary Eleanor Roberts, Art of Versification. Revised edition. Springfield: 1920.