In poetry, a stanza is a grouped set of lines within a poem, usually set off from other stanzas by a blank line or different indentation. Stanzas can have regular rhyme and metrical schemes, though stanzas are not strictly required to have either. There are many unique forms of stanzas. Some stanzaic forms are simple, such as four-line quatrains. Other forms are more complex, such as the Spenserian stanza. Fixed verse poems, such as sestinas, can be defined by the number and form of their stanzas. The term stanza is similar to strophe, though strophe is sometimes used to refer to irregular sets of lines, as opposed to regular, rhymed stanzas.
The stanza in poetry is analogous with the paragraph that is seen in prose; related thoughts are grouped into units. In music, groups of lines are typically referred to as verses. The stanza has also been known by terms such as batch, fit, and stave.
This short poem by Emily Dickinson has two stanzas of four lines each.
I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample It
Could finish enmity.
Nor had I time to love; but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.
- The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Murfin & Ray pg. 455
- The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Murfin & Ray pg. 457
- Literature Reading, Writing, Reacting. Kirszner & Mandell Ch. 18, pg. 716.
- Cuddon, J.A. A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. ISBN 9781444333275.
- Dickinson, Emily. "Poems: Three Series, Complete". Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
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