The UVic Writer's Guide


Stanzas are to poetry what paragraphs are to prose. They are groups of lines that have been separated from other groups of lines in the poem.

Often the stanzas within a specific poem have consistent patterns of rhyme and meter, but poems may also be divided into completely irregular stanzas. Specific types of stanzas include the couplet, a pair of rhymed lines (see heroic couplet) ; the tercet, a three-line stanza in which all three lines rhyme; terza rima, a series of tercets in which the rhymes interlock (aba bcb cdc and so on); the quatrain, a four-line stanza; and ottava rima, which rhymes abababcc. (See also sonnet.)

Verse paragraphs are like their prose counterparts. In longer poems in blank verse or heroic couplets, the paragraph becomes the organizing principle.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995