Stanza: Definition And Its Types

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What is a stanza?

A stanza is a chunk of lines in a poem that are set apart from one another. While rhyming stanzas is common, it is not required. However, it is typical for a poem’s stanzas to all have the similar number of lines and to have a consistent rhythm or metre.


Lines of poetry are organised into groups called stanzas. Typically, a poem’s stanzas are separated from one another by a double line break or a shift in the level of indentation.

Poets can use stanzas to visually organise their poems by grouping similar topics together and creating breathing room between them. Poems benefit from stanzas because they help divide the poem into manageable chunks.

Read more: An Easy Guide To Understanding Divine Comedy By Dante Alighieri

Line breaks are not always used to demarcate stanzas. In some poems, particularly those that are lengthier or more traditional in form, stanzas can be distinguished from one another based on the location of a change in metre or rhyme scheme.

Poems are broken up into stanzas, which are sometimes compared to paragraphs in prose because they are the basic units of poetry.

Types of Stanza

Poems can be divided up into stanzas of uniform length or of variable lengths, depending on the poet’s preference. There is no hard and fast rule on the number of lines a stanza ought to have.


Sometimes stanzas are typically referred to by the number of lines they include. Few of them are given as follow:

1) Couplet

A couple includes two lines of poetry read in sequence, both of which rhyme and maintain a steady metre.

His father told him never start writing
or reading in the middle of a book.

Boy Goes to War

2) Tarcet

 The term “tercet” refers to a stanza with three lines. Additionally known as a tristiche. Villanelles and terza rima are two examples of poetry forms that are based on the tercet.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Do no go gentle into that good night

3) Quatraine

A stanza of four lines is called a “quatrain.” It is a common poetic structure used in ballads.

There’s nothing in the house
To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with
Nor thread to take stitches.

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

4) Cinquain

A cinquain is a five-line verse. The Japanese tanka is an example of poems with a single stanza of five lines.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.

To Helen

5) Sestet

A sestet is a six-lined stanza. The sestet is the primary feature of a sonnet.

Function of a Stanza

The stanza in poetry serves a purpose similar to that of the paragraph in prose. They enable the poet to divide the poem into distinct sections to emphasise emotional or thematic transitions. This ensures that the poetry flows smoothly and rhythmically when it is read.

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