7 junio, 2024

Verses and stanzas of a poem: what they are, differences and examples

What is a verse?

A verse It is a phrase, sentences or words, in a single line, that makes up a poem. A verse is each of those lines of which the entire poem is made.

An old popular poem goes like this:

To the sailor at sea

never lacks a penalty:

or the rudder is twisted

or the candle breaks.

The poem is made up of four verses, since we identify each of the lines or lines, placed one below the other, as a verse.

However, what characterizes the verses is not that they are short and are one below the other, but their musicality.

If you read the previous example a second time, if you read it even a third time paying attention, you will realize that when going from one verse to another there is a kind of rhythm, something sticky that makes it a pleasure to say the poem over and over again. again and that also makes it easier for us to memorize his verses.

That rhythm, that something sticky and pleasant is the musicality. It resembles the lyrics of a song, since the lyrics of songs are nothing more than verses, and as such they are written with a pleasant rhythm that makes it easier to put it to music.

Thus, the verses are linked to each other by means of rhyme and rhythm. Remember that the rhyme is the phonetic repetition of the last syllables of the verse, so that they agree with the following ones.

Types of verses

One way to classify verses is according to their length. This is not measured in words, but in syllables. Another way is according to the rhyme. Below we explain both.

According to the extension

A syllable is each of the articulated sounds that make up a word. The word “verso”, for example, has two syllables: ver – so. Well then: verses receive different names depending on the number of syllables they have. Thus, we have:

hexasyllable: verse that has six syllables.

Octosyllable: which has eight syllables.

hendecasyllable: which has eleven syllables.

These are not the only ones, but they are the main ones. A large part of the best verses of antiquity were pronounced in six syllables.

The octosyllable, for its part, is the verse of popular Spanish-American poetry, as well as the favorite of many great Spanish poets. If you notice, the poem that served as an example is composed in heptasyllables (7 syllables).

And finally, the hendecasyllable, the longest, the most complex, the preferred one for composing poems on deep themes or for developing longer ideas. From the 16th century to the end of the 19th century it was the favorite line of poets.

They can also be classified, in a general way, into verses of major and minor art; those of arte mayor are those that are made with verses from nine syllables, and are called: eneasílabos (9), decasílabos (10), hendecasílabos (11), dodecasílabos (12), tridecasílabos (13) and alejandrinos (14) .

On the other hand, minor art verses are those that have between two and eight syllables: disyllables (2), trisyllables (3), tetrasyllables (4), pentasyllables (5), hexasyllables (6), heptasyllables (7) and octosyllables. (8).

according to the rhyme

The rhyme is the main resource –although not the only one– to provide musicality to the verses. It consists of the repetition of certain vowels or consonants and vowels at the end of two or more verses.

The rhyme can be of two types: consonant or assonance. And so we will talk about verses with consonant rhyme or with assonance rhyme.


When two lines are consonant, they share the last three letters. That is, these are identical in both. Look at the following example, from the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío:

How cheerful and fresh the morningita!

The air grabs me by the nose,

dogs bark, a big boyItemto

and a fat and pretty girlita

on a stone, he grinds corn.

The first, third, and fourth lines end with the same three letters, and are therefore consonant.

assonance rhyme

In this case, of the last three letters, only the vowels are repeated.

An example is the anonymous couplet that we read at the beginning of the article. Notice:

To the sailor at sea

never lacks a pena:

or the rudder is twisted

or the v breaksthe A.

You will have already noticed that the second and fourth verses are assonant, since the same vowels are repeated, but not the consonant.

free verses

But it happens that many poets prefer to write verses without a constant length and without rhyme. This type of verse is called free verse.

Perhaps we could think that without rhyme and with a varied length (that is, some shorter verses and others longer), these verses must lack rhythm and musicality, and, therefore, they are hardly true verses.

Think about the fact that there are many different types of music. Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” is music, but also flamenco, salsa, rock or tango. Within the same «Fifth Symphony», there are fast and vigorous moments, others slow and nostalgic or reflective.

There are many musicalities, many rhythms. And free verse also has music and rhythm, only it’s of a very different kind than poetry with meter and rhyme.

Look at this example, a fragment of the poem «En la plaza», by the Spanish Vicente Aleixandre:

Not good
stay on the shore
like the boardwalk or like the mollusk that wants to imitate the rock calcareously.

Or this complete one by León Felipe, called “Colofón”:


When my tears reach you

the function of my eyes

it will no longer be crying

but see.

The verses don’t have rhyme, but when you recite them, read them, you feel that musicality we were talking about, that cadence of language that gives the verses a certain sensation of singing.

Difference Between Verse and Stanza

A stanza is made up of a group of verses: they can be only two, three, four, ten or many more. These verses can be linked by some type of rhyme and limited to a certain measure (eight syllables, 11 syllables, etc.), or they can also be free verses.

A poem is usually made up of several stanzas (although there are also those of only one); each stanza contains a complete and coherent poetic idea. It is the equivalent of a paragraph in prose writing.

This can be well observed in the following two stanzas, by the Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer:

The dark swallows will return

on your balcony their nests to hang,

and again with the wing to your crystals

playing they will call

But those that the flight restrained

your beauty and my happiness when contemplating,

those who learned our names…

those… won’t come back!

Verse Types

The stanzas are classified according to the number of verses that compose them and, in some cases, according to the particularities of their rhyme or the length of the verses. In this way we have:

couplet or couplet

It is the stanza formed by two lines with consonant or assonance rhyme. Example:

Ay!, chains of love,

how bad you are to break!

Manuel Machado


Stanza formed by three hendecasyllabic verses with consonant rhyme between the first and third verses. Example:

I will not shut up, even with my finger

already touching the mouth or already the forehead,

silence warn or threaten fear

Francis of Quevedo


Formed by four hendecasyllabic verses with a consonant rhyme that links the first verse with the fourth and the second with the third. Example:

Thinking the road was going straight,

I came to end up in so much misfortune,

I can’t imagine, even with madness,

something that you are somewhat satisfied with.

Garcilaso de la Vega


It is also made up of four verses, but eight syllables; the rhyme is assonance and links the first verse with the third and the second with the fourth. Example:

Light of the soul, divine light,

lighthouse, torch, star, sun…

A groping man walks;

He carries a lantern on his back.

Antonio Machado


Stanza of 10 octosyllabic verses with a complex assonance rhyme that links the verses as follows:

first with fourth and fifth;
second with third;
sixth with seventh and tenth;
eighth with ninth.


They tell of a wise man who one day

I was so poor and miserable

that was only sustained

of some herbs that he gathered.

«Will there be another one,» he said to himself,

poorer and sadder than me?

And when the face turned

found the answer, seeing

what other wise I was going taking

the leaves he threw.

Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Difference Between Verse and Prose

Unlike verses, prose does not have rhyme or meter. It is the common writing of every day, as it appears in the press, in your textbook or in an advertisement, in novels, essays and short stories.

It is written in full line, from left to right. Good prose writing also has rhythm, but much less marked than in the case of verse.

Themes of interest

poems for children

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