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A stanza (from ancient Greek στροφή strophē , German 'turn' ; in particular: 'dance turn of the choir, singing sung during the dance') is a section of a lyrical text.


Originally (in Greek drama ) stanza referred to the change of direction of movement during a round dance and the singing performed during it . In the Greek drama then a part of the choral singing, which is followed by a metrically identical antistrophe and finally the epode . The same three-way division can be found in the Pindarian ode .

In Middle High German poetry, the term daz liet was used for the term strophe . The Mastersingers the names were pieces , edifices , decade or verse usual (verse today in the hymn ). It was not until the 17th century that Martin Opitz introduced the term stanza into German art teaching.

Today, a stanza or, better, stanza form or stanza measure is a metric scheme that describes the metrical similarities of a certain type of stanza. These similarities, also known as responsions , are based on features of the stanza as a whole and of the constituent verses. For example:

  • Verse number (example: quatrains )
  • Verse length (example: eight-syllable verse)
  • Meter (example: hexameter )
  • Rhyme scheme (example: pair rhyme )

Features do not have to be the same for all verses. The stanza form can also be described by regular changes and certain combinations of different features, for example the distich as a two-line, the first verse of which is a hexameter and the second a pentameter .

The abstract description of the stanza form, usually with the help of a form of metric notation , is also known as the stanza scheme.

Particularly in ancient verse theory and in Greek drama, a rhythmically varied part inserted between strophic sections is called an astrophon ("non-stanza"; plural astropha ).

The form of stanzas is also used to denote the structure of a poem into stanzas (of equal length). If there are no common features and it is only a matter of dividing a poem into sections of different lengths - for example, based on the content - it is better to speak of sections of such a poem than of stanzas .

Finally, the subdivisions of the bird song are also referred to as stanzas or the typical forms of such song sections as stanzas , such as the blue tit .


  • Horst Joachim Frank : Handbook of the German strophic forms. 2nd Edition. Francke, Tübingen & Basel 1993, ISBN 3-7720-2221-9 .
  • Otto Knörrich: Lexicon of lyrical forms (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 479). 2nd, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-47902-8 .
  • Roland Greene, Stephen Cushman, et al. (Ed.): The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 4th edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton 2012, ISBN 978-0-691-13334-8 .
  • Fritz Schlawe: The German stanza forms. Systematic-chronological register of German poetry 1600–1950. Repertories on the history of German literature, Vol. 5. Metzler, Stuttgart 1972, ISBN 3-476-00243-8 .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: stanza  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wilhelm Gemoll : Greek-German school and hand dictionary . G. Freytag Verlag / Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, Munich / Vienna 1965.