Stanza – Concept, stanza types and examples

We explain what a stanza is and the types of stanza that exist. Also, some examples and how many verses a stanza has.

The stanza is made up of several verses.

What is a stanza?

It is called a stanza the segments into which a poem is divided, each composed of several verses. They are more or less equivalent to the paragraphs of prose: medium structural units, which are made up of several propositions around a common axis of meaning or meaning.

In other words, a stanza is nothing but a variable set of verses, separated from other similar sets by a punctuation mark and / or a blank space in the poem.

Today, poetry does not limit the number of stanzas a poem can have, but in ancient times lyrical writing was governed by very concise rules, for example, a sonnet is compulsorily composed of four stanzas: two of four lines and two of three, with precise rhythmic and syllabic structures.

Stanza types

The stanzas are classified according to their number and type of verses.

There are many types of stanza contemplated in the traditional meter, based on the number and type of verses that comprise it, for example:

  • Two-line stanzas.
    • Semi-detached. The rhyme between the two verses corresponds (AA).
    • Joy. A pentasyllable and a decasyllable, comes from the Flemish language.
    • Hallelujah. A couplet of eight syllables.
  • Three-line stanzas.
    • Third. Three hendecasyllable (or major art) verses with consonant rhyme usually 11A 11B 11A.
    • Third. Three verses of minor art and consonant rhyme in various schemes.
  • Stanzas of four lines.
    • Quartet. Four hendecasyllables (or major art) with consonant rhyme 11A 11B 11B 11A.
    • Redondilla. Four octosyllables of constant rhyme: 8a 8b 8b 8a.
    • Couplet. Four verses of minor art with assonance rhyme: -a, -a.
    • Sash. Four Alexandrian verses with consonant rhyme: 14A 14A 14A 14A.
  • Five-line stanzas.
    • Limerick. Five verses of minor art, consonant rhyme and diverse metric scheme.
    • Quintet. Five verses of major art, consonant rhyme and variable metric scheme.
    • Lira. Consonant rhyme heptasyllables and hendecasyllables, organized according to the formula 7a 11B 7a 7b 11B.

And so on until the 14 verses, or the so-called “series”: compositions in a row and without a defined stanza, such as Romance.

Stanza examples

Some examples of stanzas taken from real poems are as follows:

  • “Moon! Crown of an immense head,
    that you are shedding your leaves in gualdas shadows!
    Red crown of a Jesus who thinks
    tragically sweet emeralds! “

Cesar Vallejo

  • “I know there are those who say: why don’t you sing now
    with that harmonious madness of yesteryear?
    They do not see the profound work of the hour,
    the work of the minute and the wonder of the year. “

Ruben Dario

  • “My essentials arrive.
    They are choruses of choruses.
    Between the reeds and the low afternoon,
    How strange that he calls me Federico! “

Federico Garcia Lorca

How many verses does a stanza have?

As we have seen, stanzas can have different number of verses, even more so in contemporary poetry that is not governed by metrics or fixed patterns. For example, the verse below has two verses:

  • “Only your warm heart,
    And nothing more.”

Federico Garcia Lorca

Instead, the following stanza has three verses:

  • “A year from your light, and illuminated
    Until the end of its beat, for her,
    The tired heart retraces the journey “

Andrés Eloy Blanco

And the next, four verses:

  • “If so the unconscious soul,
    Lord of the stars and leaves,
    it was, fiery shadow,
    from life to death ”.

Luis Cernuda

This last example has five verses:

  • “The Hours are feverish, and at the angles
    blondes abort centuries of luck.
    Who pulls the thread so much: who picks up
    mercilessly our nerves,
    strings already spent, to the grave! “

Cesar Vallejo