Verse – Concept, verse types and examples

We explain what a verse is, its relationship with a stanza and the types of verse that exist. Also, some examples and love verses.

The verses detail a poetic and rhythmic image within the body of the poem.

What is a verse?

A verse is a unit into which a poem is commonly divided, superior in size to the foot, but inferior to the stanza. They usually detail a poetic and rhythmic image within the body of the poem, and in classical or traditional poetry they used to be linked with the rest of the stanza through rhyme, that is, the phonetic repetition of its last syllable or last letter.

Most ancient texts, even those without clearly lyrical, but rather narrative, intentions, used to be written in verse. This is because its origin in many cases was prior to writing as such, so it had to be memorized to be recited or sung along with musical instruments. Thus, the rhyme was nothing more than a way to facilitate memory, since each ending of the verse elicited the next.

Contemporary poetry freed itself from this tendency and generally adopted free verse or free rhyme, that is, the absence of phonetic repetitions between the verses that make up a text. In some cases prose was even chosen. In this way, poetry can be written today in prose or in verses, but hardly ever rhymed.

Verse and stanza

A stanza can be made up of a certain number of verses.

A certain number of verses can compose a stanza. This is very noticeable in songs and poems of yesteryear, such as sonnets (composed of four stanzas: two of four lines and two of three), although this structure is also considered old-fashioned in contemporary poetry, which tends to absolute freedom of shapes.

Instead, in the past, poetry was written based on fixed formulas of structure and dimension, which forced the poet to adopt a certain way of rhyming, a certain amount of verses and even a certain amount of syllables per verse. For example, the Japanese poetry called haiku it is composed in a single stanza, whose initial verse has five syllables, the second seven and the third five again.

Types of verse

The verses can be classified according to their rhyme, measure and rhythm.

The verses can be classified according to various criteria:

  • According to their rhyme. We speak of three types of verse:
    • Rhymed verse. The one whose final word rhymes with that of another verse.
    • Single verse. One that does not rhyme with any other verse, but appears in a composition surrounded by rhymes.
    • White verse. One that does not present rhyme, although it does measure (number of syllables) and appears in a composition that lacks totally rhymed verses.
  • According to your measurement. The measure of a verse is its total number of syllables, thus distinguishing between:
    • Minor art verses. Those that go between two and eight syllables: bisyllables (2), trisyllables (3), tetrasyllables (4), pentasyllables (5), hexasyllables (6), heptasyllables (7) and octosyllables (8).
    • Verses of major art. Those that have nine or more syllables: eneasílabo (9), decasílabo (10), endecasílabo (11), dodecasílabo (12), tridecasílabo (13) and alejandrinos (14).
  • According to your rhythm. The rhythm of a verse is determined by where it is accentuated:
    • Trochaic verses (_U). When the accent of the words falls on the odd syllables.
    • Iambic verses (U_). When the accent of the words falls on the even syllables.
    • Mixed verses. When they mix the two previous cadences.

Examples of verse

Some examples of verses from real poems are:

  • “How would I know how to love you, woman, how would I know” – Pablo Neruda
  • “Margarita the sea is beautiful,” – Rubén Darío
  • “This voracious vulture with a grim frown” – Miguel de Unamuno
  • “The destructive time does not pass in vain” – Amado Nervo
  • “I see another route, the route of the moment, the route of attention, awake, incisive, sagittarius!” – Rafael Cadenas
  • “Never beyond collapsing chimneys” – Rafael Alberti

Love verses

Love poetry occupied a very popular place in the Western tradition, to the point that nowadays the writing of verses is usually associated with the erotic or loving feeling, if not with spite and lamentation. Some well-known love verses are, for example:

  • “Two bodies face to face
    they are sometimes two waves
    and the night is ocean. “

Octavio Paz

  • “Don’t ask my arms for peace
    that they have prisoners of yours:
    my hugs are of war
    and my kisses are fire “

Ruben Dario

  • “I do not ask you to sign me
    ten gray papers to love
    I only ask that you want
    the pigeons that I usually look at. “

Mario Benedetti