What is a verse?

We explain what a verse is, its relationship with a stanza and the types of verse that exist. In addition, some examples and love verses.

  1. What is a verse?

A verse is  a unit in which a poem is commonly divided , superior in size to the foot, but inferior to the stanza. They usually detail a poetic and rhythmic image within the body of the poem, and in classical or traditional poetry they used to link with the others in the stanza through the rhyme, that is, the phonetic repetition of their last syllable or last letter.

Most of the ancient texts, even those without clearly lyrical intentions, but narratives, used to be written in verse. This is because its origin in many cases was prior to writing as such , so it should be memorized to be recited or sung alongside musical instruments. Thus, rhyme was nothing more than a way of facilitating memory , since each termination of the verse provoked the following.

Contemporary poetry freed itself from this tendency and generally adopted free verse or free rhyme, that is, the absence of phonetic repetitions between the verses that make up a text . In some cases even prose was chosen. In this way, poetry can be written today in prose or in verses , but almost never rhymed.

  1. Verse and stanza

A stanza can be composed of a certain number of verses.

A certain number of verses can compose a stanza . This is very noticeable in the songs and poems of yesteryear, such as sonnets (composed of four stanzas: two of four verses and two of three), although this structure is also considered old-fashioned in contemporary poetry, which tends to Absolute freedom of forms.

On the other hand, poetry was formerly written based on fixed formulas of structure and dimension, which forced the poet to adopt a certain way of rhyming, a certain amount of verses and even a certain amount of syllables per verse. For example, Japanese poetry called  haiku  is composed of a single stanza, whose initial verse has five syllables, the second seven and the third five again.

  1. Verse types

The verses can be classified according to their rhyme, measure and rhythm.

The verses can be classified according to various criteria:

According to his rhyme. There is talk of three types of verse:

  • Rhymed verse . He whose final word rhymes with that of another verse.
  • Loose verse . He who does not present rhyme with any other verse, but appears in a composition surrounded by rhymes.
  • White verse . The one that does not present rhyme, although it does measure (number of syllables) and appears in a composition that lacks completely rhymed verses.

According to your measurement. The measure of a verse is its total number of syllables, thus distinguishing between:

  • Minor art verses . Those that go between two and eight syllables: bisílabos (2), trisílabos (3), tetrasílabos (4), pentasílabos (5), hexasílabos (6), heptasílabos (7) and octosílabos (8).
  • Major art verses . Those who have nine or more syllables: eneasílabo (9), decasílabo (10), endecasílabo (11), dodecasílabo (12), tridecasílabo (13) and Alexandrian (14).

According to his rhythm. The rhythm of a verse is determined by the place where it is accentuated:

  • Trochaic Verses  (_U) . When the word accent falls on odd syllables.
  • Ionian verses  (U_) . When the word accent falls on even syllables.
  • Mixed verses . When they mix the two previous cadences. 
  1. Verse examples

Some examples of verses from real poems are:

  • “How I would know how to love you, woman, how I would know” – Pablo Neruda
  • “Margarita is beautiful the sea,” – Rubén Darío
  • “This ravenous fierce vulture” – Miguel de Unamuno
  • “Destroying time does not pass in vain” – Beloved Nervo
  • “I see another route, the route of the moment, the route of attention, wake up, incisive, sagittarius!” – Rafael Cadenas
  • “Never beyond collapsing chimneys” – Rafael Alberti
  1. Love verses

The love poetry occupied a very popular place in the western tradition, to the point that today the writing of verses is usually associated with the erotic or loving feeling, when not to spite and to the lamentation. Some well-known love verses are, for example:

  • “Two bodies facing each other
    are sometimes two waves
    and the night is ocean.”

Octavio Paz

  • “Do not ask my arms for peace
    that yours have prisoners:
    my hugs
    are war and my kisses are fire”

Ruben Dario

  • “I don’t ask you to sign me
    ten gray papers to love, I
    just ask you to want
    the pigeons I usually look at.”

Mario Benedetti

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