A stanza is a group of lines in poetry, typically more than two, that form the basic unit of the poem. Poets typically separate the stanzas by putting space between them.
The lines of a stanza usually follow a certain rhythmic pattern and rhyme scheme.
These two stanzas from "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou speak of the contrast between the free bird and the caged bird:
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
These two stanzas from "I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud" by William Wordsworth follow a specific rhyme scheme (ABABCC):
I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
Literary Terms Examples