a stave or a stanza ?

  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I don't know what a stave exactly is. It has an old-fashioned and literary sound to me, so I looked it up and found it just means what we'd normally call a verse or stanza. Though the OED does have one quotation suggesting a stave is larger:

    1875 J. R. Lowell Spenser in Prose Wks. (1890) IV. 305 (note) , Spenser's innovation lies..in valuing the stave more than any of the single verses that compose it.

    But Spenser is in many very large books, so that might be exceptional. The word 'stave' to me belongs in a poem or song, not ordinary language.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, I agree with etb. I would never refer to a verse in poetry as a stave. The OED labels this as 19th century.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    No, it is 19th century use. If you analyse Shakespeare today, you'd be expected to use today's English when you aren't quoting from Shakespeare.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I suspect verse originally meant what it does in romance languages, i.e. "line", and what we now call a multiple-line verse would have been called a multiple-verse stave. Now that verse means something more like "stanza", we no longer need the word stave in this context.
     

    peppyblueberry

    Member
    français
    Do you mean that a stave was used to describe a stanza/a verse but that nowadays we use new these new words? and that even if it still memans a couple of lines it got useless to know this word? just checking that I got it
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    what do you mean by romance language ?
    Welcome to the forum, Peppyblueberry.

    I mean like French, for example. When I studied French poetry, "le troisième vers" meant the third line, not the third verse. And French vers and English verse have a common origin. I believe the origin is Latin versus, which meant "furrow", used metaphorically for a manuscript line.

    Spanish verso also means "line" more readily than "verse".

    P.S. I just checked the WR Dictionary and I see that English verse did use to mean "line", and the origin is Latin reinforced by Old French.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The word stave can mean a stressed syllable in poetry, and comes, I suspect, from the Norwegian, stev, a particular sort of old folk-song.

    Here's an example of its use in an analysis of Beowulf:

    The third stress of the four-stress line is called the head stave because it always carries the alliteration, as in these two lines:
    1785Glád at heárt, the Géatish prince
    went báck at ónce as the wíse king báde ...
     
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