'stanza' or 'line' ?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Nucleara, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. Nucleara

    Nucleara Senior Member

    If a poem contains 6 stanzas, like this:

    There's a wind that blows over summer days,
    And the clouds go chasing, chasing.[End of 1st stanza]

    There's a wind that blows over wintry ways,
    And the rains come racing, racing.[2]

    .....
    ....
    [until 6th stanza]

    And if the question is "Which line gives the happiest feeling?"
    This 'line' means a stanza, or a half of it?

    Thank you so much
     
  2. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    A "line" technically means one line of poetry, from start to line break. So "And the rains come racing, racing" is a line.

    But "line" could informally mean a sentence from a poem.

    It's hard to tell here because the question is itself a little bit strange. I would say that you could interpret "line" as meaning either "a sentence in this poem" or "one line of the poem."
     
  3. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    I would understand 'line' to mean a single line: half a stanza (where a stanza has two lines).
     
  4. Nucleara

    Nucleara Senior Member

    Thank you so much lucas.
    So it could mean 'the whole sentence' too, right? Then a stanza contains a line.
     
  5. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    In poetry, a line is a line. Not a sentence (we don't actually speak of "sentences" in poetry), a stanza, or anything else.
     
  6. Nucleara

    Nucleara Senior Member

    Thank you wandle.
    I agree with you, but not sure if it is that way.

    So a stanza has 2 lines? [From my question]
     
  7. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    I agree with wandle and Parla, which is why I said that correctly and properly (in terms of literary analysis of poetry) a "line" can only mean a "line" - one printed line, from capital letter to line break.

    But since the question "Which line gives the happiest feeling?" is not phrased correctly and properly (in terms of literary analysis of poetry) there's no reason to assume that "line" has its correct and proper meaning in that sentence. It could have the more colloquial meaning of "line" - "complete thought, usually corresponding to a sentence" - that the word "line" has when we talk about song lyrics, speeches, and the like.

    We obviously do talk about sentences when analyzing poetry. Sentences are those things that are broken up by periods. In this poem, it looks like each stanza contains one and only one sentence. That's not always the case. That could be an important observation for analyzing a particular poem.
     
  8. djmc Senior Member

    France
    English - United Kingdom
    Some English poetry (blank verse for instance) does not have stanzas. One might say line 189, Book Two, of Milton's Paradise lost. However much poetry uses rhyme schemes originally taken from Italian poetry where the lines are grouped with a rhyme scheme to unify them. In this case one would talk about stanzas. Shakespeare's Sonnets and Spenser's Faerie Queene are written in stanzas. One might otherwise talk about verses. If a poem is split into stanzas the stanzas themselves are normally fairly fixed in form with a set number of lines per stanza, and a set pattern of rhyme within it. It does not to me sound like the poem is split into stanzas. It looks to be a poem with a particular rhyme scheme which goes A B A B . . . , it may carry on to be sonnet, Normally each stanza has a rhyme scheme particular to itself. If you want to describe it you can specify the line number.
     
  9. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    In the poem you're quoting, yes. In other poems, any number of lines the poet likes—perhaps one, perhaps dozens. And different stanzas in the same poem may have varying numbers of lines. A stanza is simply a division of a poem, number of lines unspecified.
     
  10. Nucleara

    Nucleara Senior Member

    Thank you so much everyone!
     
  11. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    These are stanzas, not lines, in the form of couplets.
     
  12. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Couplets usually rhyme, and couplets usually aren't written as entire stanzas. That characterization might be confusing. It also turns out, once you get a little more information, that it's wrong.

    If you look at how this poem is typset here (http://books.google.com/books?id=sB...gKWv4GABA&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false) it doesn't look like it has any stanzas at all. But it does become obvious when you look at the poem that it consists of quatrains​, not couplets, even though we don't know whether the poem was originally written in stanzas or not.
     

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