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All you need to know about Stanza

by Oma Alidu

Stanza: The topic being covered is something that we all are acquainted with. Be it in writing essays or in reading long or short stories, we all have encountered the word stanza and therefore we all are well acquainted with the meaning of the word.

Stanza

The word stanza is an Italian word which means a stopping place in English. In the literary world, the word stanza refers to the grouping of the verse lines in a poem that is often set off by a space in the poem. In case of poems, usually the stanzas are marked by recurrent pattern of rhyme and are also uniform in the number of lengths.

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On the other hand, if we refer to the poem Ode to Evening by William Collins, we see that some unrhymed poems are divided into stanzaic units and some rhymed poems are composed of such stanzas that have variations in their component lines.

Thus, the stanzas have varied types depending on their forms which make them an important part of study in literature. Therefore, students working on analysis of various works may need assignment help for the same.

Research paper writing done on the topic have concluded that among all these varied diversities of stanzas, many lack specific names and thus are described by specifying the number of lines,
the pattern of the rhyme as well as the type and number of metric feet in each line. Then there are several stanzas that are used so often that they are provided a name.

Having understood the meaning of stanza, let us now understand its components:

1. Couplet

It is a pair of lines that are in rhyme and equal length to each other. In the same category we also have the octosyllabic couplet, which has lines of eight syllables, consisting of four iambic feet.

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An example of the latter can be To his Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell. Decasyllabic couplets or heroic couplets are the iambic pentameter lines rhyming in pairs.

2. Triplet or tercet

is a stanza of three line usually with a rhyme. The lines may be of the same length or of varying length.

3. Terza Rima

They are composed of tercets that are interlinked by a common rhyme- aba, bcb, cdc, and so on. Terza Rima was introduced by Dante in the fourteenth century when he wrote his Divine Comedy, later Sir Thomas Wyatt introduced the form in the early sixteenth century

but it did not remain a common meter in English since here rhymed are much harder to find than in Italian. Milton, Browning and Tennyson made extensive use of it and Shelley used it brilliantly in his Ode to the West Wind.

4. Quatrain

These are the four-line stanzas and the most commonly used form in English versification, employed with various meters and rhyme schemes. The ballad stanza (alternating four and three- foot lines with the rhyme scheme of abcb or abab) is one commonly used form of quatrain and when this same stanza occurs in hymns, it is known as common measure. Elegy written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray is an example of heroic quatrain written in iambic pentameter.

5. Rime Royal

Chaucer came up with this form of stanza, evident in his Troilus and Criseyde as well as other narrative poems. The form derives its name from its later use by the Scottish Chaucerian, King James I of Scotland in his poem The Kingis Quair.

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Rime Royal

The poem is a seven-line, iambic pentameter stanza with the rhyme scheme of ababbcc. This form was more widely used by the Elizabethan poets like William Shakespeare.

6. Ottava Rima

Is the Italian name and indicates eight lines rhyming babcc. Sir Thomas Wyatt gets the credit for bringing this rhyme into English in the first half of the sixteenth century, as he did for terza rima and sonnet.

Although it was employed by a number of poets, Byron most efficiently explored his writing potential using the form, as witnessed in his Don Juan.

7. Spenserian Stanza

This stanza is a longer form devised by Edmund Spenser especially for his The Faerie Queene. It consists of nine lines, first eight of which are iambic pentameter and the last line iambic hexameter, the rhyme scheme being ababbcbcc.

Mesmerized by this style of Spenser, various poets too tried their hand at this type of writing in spite of the difficulties involved in it. The success of this style has been seen in the poems that evolve in a leisurely way, with sufficient time for unrolling the richly textured stanzas, like the The Faerie Queene.

The research paper writings on the stanzas as topic have mentioned about stanza forms imported from France such as the villanelle, the rondeau, and the triolet, all of which contain intricate repetitions at set intervals of both rhymes and lines.

In fact, ‘Do not go Gentle into that good night’ by Dylan Thomas is a villanelle, that is it contains of five tercets and a quatrain, all on two rhymes and with a repetition of lines 1 and 3 of the first tercet.

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A section of an epic, which is a long poem, is commonly known as canto. For example, the term can be applied to ‘Divine Comedy’ by Dante or ‘Don Juan’ by Lord Byron.

Another intricate form of stanza is sestina- a poem of six six-line stanzas, in which the end words of the lines of the first stanza are repeated, as the end words of the first stanza that follow.

The sestina concludes with a three-line envoy which incorporates all of these six words, in the middle as well as at the end of the lines. This form was later cultivated by French, Spanish and Italian poets, after its origin in the 12th century.

Stanzas thus have various types that are based on various forms and have thus been used in different ways. The points elaborated above on the stanza, are sufficient enough to offer assignment help to students.

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