Perhaps the best way to understand stanzas is to first thoroughly understand the definition of a stanza. A stanza is a popular term within poetry that refers to a smaller unit within a poem or a verse within a song.
If you are looking towards poetry to find stanza examples you need not look far.
In any given song you have perhaps unknowingly sung stanzas several times. They are known as the verses. Look at the lyrics of your favorite song carefully and you will easily notice the stanzas.
Here is an example of a stanza in poetry. This original poem is purely for illustration.
I Love To Write Poems
I love to write
Day and night
What would my heart do
But cry, sigh and be blue
If I could not write
Writing feels good
And I know it should
Who could have knew
That what I do
Is write, write, write
- Unknown Author
While it is well known that poetry deals with emotions, the poem above, whose subject matter is the author’s love of writing, is just a mere visual that you can use when you are trying to decipher where the stanzas are in a poem. The above poem details a five-lined stanza, which many people may refer to as a limerick.
There are many different types of stanzas. Some of which are:
Remember that in poetry you can identify a stanza by the number of lines that it has and its rhyme scheme or pattern.
When trying to find the stanzas in popular songs, it is best to take a look at the verses. Remember that songs are simply poetry set to music. With this in mind you should be able to easily identify the stanzas and the length of the stanzas. Keep in mind that most songs are made up of two verses, a bridge (which may or may not repeat) and a chorus (that definitely repeats.)
If you take a look at the “Star Spangled Banner” you should be able to identify the stanzas.
“Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
-Francis Scott Key
“The Star Spangled Banner” has four verses, however only the first verse in sung popularly at athletic games, political events and so forth.
When you take the first verse, and hum it you can begin to see how it is a stanza. Then, if you take a look at all of the verses, you begin to see how it is nothing more than a poem with four stanzas. Each stanza has eight lines and there is definitely an apparent rhyme pattern.
While the Star Spangled Banner is perhaps the most patriotic song of all because it is our national anthem, there are several other famous patriotic songs that you can look at in order to see some stanza examples.
For instance, consider the first stanza of the following famous songs:
Words by Katharine Lee Bates and music by Samuel WardO beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Words and music by Woody Guthrie As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me
Songs for kids also contain stanzas as well. These are usually fun and funny, or else they contain simple and easy words that kids can learn.
Consider the following examples:
A horse and a flea and three blind mice
Sat on a tombstone shooting dice.
The horse slipped and fell on the flea-
"Oops! said the flea, there's a horse on me!"
This old man, he played one,
He played knick knack with his thumb,
With a knick, knack, paddy whack,
Give the dog a bone;
This old man came rolling home.
Here are the first stanzas of some poems that are recognized and widely respected:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
The daisy follows soft the sun,
And when his golden walk is done,
Sits shyly at his feet.
He, waking, finds the flower near.
"Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?"
"Because, sir, love is sweet!"
I had a guinea golden;
I lost it in the sand,
And though the sum was simple,
And pounds were in the land,
Still had it such a value
Unto my frugal eye,
That when I could not find it
I sat me down to sigh.
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
As time progresses you will be able to see how easy it is to identify a stanza in both poetry and song. In due time, you will become a master at writing poetry and identifying stanzas.