Stanzas in poetry are vitally important. The term stanza refers to a group of lines in a poem. It is poetry’s basic building block and poems can be made up of any number of stanzas.
There are many different types of stanzas in poetry. They are often classified by the number of lines they contain.
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- 1 line stanza
- 2 line stanza
- 3 line stanza
- 4 line stanza
- 5 line stanza
- 6 line stanza
- 7 line stanzas and up
1 line stanza
A stanza of one line is often called a monostich.
Here is an example of a monostich poem:
“Coward”BY A. R. AMMONS
Bravery runs in my family.
2 line stanza
A stanza of two lines is called a couplet. Couplets are sometimes used to signify the end of the poem like in some sonnets.
“Their Sex Life”
One failure onBY A. R. AMMONS
Top of another
And here is a sonnet by Sylvia Platch that uses a couplet to end.
Sonnet: To Time
BY SYLVIA PLATH
Today we move in jade and cease with garnetBY SYLVIA PLATH
Amid the ticking jeweled clocks that mark
Our years. Death comes in a casual steel car, yet
We vaunt our days in neon and scorn the dark.
But outside the diabolic steel of this
Most plastic-windowed city, I can hear
The lone wind raving in the gutter, his
Voice crying exclusion in my ear.
So cry for the pagan girl left picking olives
Beside a sunblue sea, and mourn the flagon
Raised to toast a thousand kings, for all gives
Sorrow; weep for the legendary dragon.
Time is a great machine of iron bars
That drains eternally the milk of stars.
3 line stanza
A stanza of three lines is called a tercet. There are many poetic forms that are made up of one or more tercets, like
Haiku example tercet by Joel Kim Booster
“I’m huge on Twitter.”Source: EATING SALAD DRUNK by Gabe Henry
– An ancient proverb that means
Lonely in real life.
4 line stanza
A stanza of four lines is called a quatrain. They can be rhymed or unrhymed. The most common rhyme schemes for a quatrain are ABAA, AAAA, ABAB, and ABBA.
5 line stanza
Example of a quintain in a doditsu poem:
Five Minutes to Fiveby Judi Van Gorder
Thursday afternoon is dead,
phones become silent and wait
until five minutes to five
to ring, on Friday
6 line stanza
Example sestina by Corey Bryan
“split pea soup”
living in this house gets harder in the winter,
we just live here now, the two of us, me and babby.
well, I guess it’s not just us, always sleeping is the cat.
whenever it gets a little gloomy out we get out the split peas
something feels so wrong about making soup in the light.
whenever i ask if she needs help cooking she lets out a laugh
god, how warm i feel when i hear her laugh
her smile and the soup makes a summer day in winter.
in our kitchen our landlord put up a light
that is absolutely horrendous and red. “i hate that light, babby”
“yeah, i know. but it does give a nice red hue to the split peas.
they look like blood clots” she laughed and that woke the cat.
stretching her black and white body, complaining, the cat
meows. drowsily, she almost falls out of her chair and i laugh.
“i thought cats were smart, but Eloise is dumb as those split peas”
“don’t be mean!” she scolds. i shut up at look at the winter
landscape through the window. “it’s snowing, babby!”
i tell her. it’s coming down softly. “well the snow’s light
“and you know it’ll never stick if it’s that light.”
she’s such a realist. so instead i go ask the cat.
“i need the real news from you Eloise. babby
says the snow won’t stick, will it?” from the kitchen i hear her laugh
the cat meows and i smile. “she says it’s gonna be a white winter!”
“she’s just telling you so you give her a treat. these split peas
are too small. what is even the point of split peas?
peas are small enough.” she turns around to find the light
switch. she turns the blood clot light off. “winter
is harsh enough without that stupid red light. the cat
hates it too. i think it makes her mad like a bull.” i laugh
and think about Eloise charging up and sprinting at babby.
“do you think you’d be a good matador, babby?”
i ask but i think i know the answer. it’s no. the split peas
are really boiling now. “i’d be the best” and a little laugh
escapes. she knows she’d be shit too. i turn the light
back on. “turn it off” “one sec, i wanna see if the cat
would really charge us.” what’s not to love about winter?
each day inside we laugh. myself, the cat and babby
the gloomy days of winter, stepping on spilt split peas
in the blood clot light, attacked by the charging cat
7 line stanzas and up
A stanza of seven lines is called a septet
A stanza of eight lines is called an octave
A stanza of nine lines is called a nonet, or Spenserian
A stanza of ten lines is called a dizain
A stanza of fourteen lines is a sonnet