Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry

Stanza

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In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. The term means "room" in Italian.

A stanza may have a self-contained rhyme scheme or be made up of a fixed number of lines (see distich/couplet, tercet, quatrain, cinquain/quintain, sestet) or, as in much modern poetry, may be an arbitrary unit defined by publishing conventions such as white space or punctuation.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 can be broken into stanzas:

   Let me not to the marriage of true minds |\
   Admit impediments. Love is not love      | \
   Which alters when it alteration finds,   | / All one stanza
   Or bends with the remover to remove.     |/
   O no, it is an ever fixed mark                      |\ 
   That looks on tempests and is never shaken;         | \
   It is the star to every wand'ring barque,           | / All one stanza
   Whose worth's unknown although his height be taken. |/
   Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks |\
   Within his bending sickle's compass come;           | \
   Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,     | / All one stanza
   But bears it out even to the edge of doom.          |/
   If this be error and upon me proved,|\
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.|/ All one stanza

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