What is verse?

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What is verse? The verse is each of the lines that make up a poem. There are different types of verse, which are classified according to the number of syllables it has. The verse composes the stanza, which is named according to the number of verses it presents.

See too:What is lyrical genre?

back classification

The verse is classified according to its number of syllables poetics:


one syllable


two syllables


three syllables


four syllables

pentasyllable or minor roundel

five syllables


six syllables

heptasyllabic or greater roundel

seven syllables


eight syllables


nine syllables


ten syllables


11 syllables

dodecasyllabic or alexandrine

12 syllables


more than 12 syllables


Each stanza of a poem is composed of lines. Therefore, it is classified according to the number of verses it has:

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a verse


two verses


three verses

court or quartet

four verses

quintet or quintilla

five verses

sextet or sextile

six verses

seventh or septille

seven verses


eight verses

novena or ninth

nine verse

from above

ten verses

Important:A stanza with more than ten lines is unusual. But if it does, just say it's an 11-line stanza, etc.


The verse is each line that makes up a poem. Therefore, we call “versification” the act of writing a text in the form of verses. Thus, a poem can be written with different types of verses.

→ Free Verses

Free verses are verses without meter and without rhyme. See the example of “The cactus”, by Manuel Bandeira|1|:

That cactus was reminiscent of the statuary's desperate gestures:
Laocoon constrained by serpents,
Ugolino and the hungry children.
It also evoked the dry Northeast, carnauba, caatingas...
It was huge, even for this land of exceptional ferocity.

→ White verses

The blank verses are verses with meter and without rhyme. See the example of “Circular”, by Paulo Henriques Britto|2|:

Originality has no time
in this world, neither time nor place.
What you do doesn't change a thing
some. waste of time say


→ regular verses

Regular verses are verses with meter and rhyme. See the example of “The Schisms of Fate”, by Augusto dos Anjos|3|:

And the saliva of those unfortunates
It swelled in my mouth with such art,
That I, in order not to spit all over the place,
I was slowly swallowing the hemoptysis!


Close-up view of a person's hand writing a letter with a quill fountain pen next to several old books.
The construction of a metric poem is something that demands a lot of care and attention on the part of the author.

The metrification of a poem consists of the creating lines with the same number of syllables. For this, the syllable count of the verse is done until the last stressed syllable. Furthermore, when the last syllable of a word ends with a vowel sound and the first syllable of the next word begins with a vowel sound, we count those syllables together if they are unstressed.

Let's go back to Augusto dos Anjos' stanza to illustrate:

And the-sa-li-va-da-que-les-in-fe-[read]-zes
in-cha-go in- mi-nha- bo-ca,- detal- [air]-you,
That I,- for- not- cus-pir- port- to-give the- [pair]-you,
went to-go-lin-do,- at- little-cos,- Oh yes-mop-[you]-sis!

In this stanza, we have decasyllable verses (ten syllables), as we count down to the last stressed syllable (in square brackets). The union of syllables is underlined in the text.

Examples of verse

Next, we will read a stanza of the poem “Dez”, by Cecília Meireles|4|, understanding its metrification and observing and the classification of each verse:

To-to-who- to-ba-look at the-fla-me-jan-you-ni-SEE-so? [Alexandrian verse]
For whom-
if the-fa-di-go to-morning- the- color-po- of the ho-mem- tran-si-TO-rio? [barbarian verse]

For-who-are-mos-pen-san-do,- na-so-about-hu-ma-na-NOI-te, [barbaric verse]
nu-maci-da-so-far-away,- nu-ma-ho-ra- without- anyone? [barbarian verse]

Para-que-es-spe-ra-mos-a-re-pe-ti-ção-do-DI-a, [barbaric verse]
e-for-who-se-re-a-li-zam-es-tas-me-ta-mor-FO-ses, [barbaric verse]
to-das-as-me-ta-mor-FO-ses, [larger roundabout]
under-the-sea- and- naro-s-dos- VEN-tos, [hendecasyllable verse]
nu-ma-vi-gí-read huh-bad-on and- at-ou-tra- vi-GÍ-lia, [Alexandrian verse]
what- is- without-pre to- mes-ma,- sem- di-a,- sem- NOI-te, [hendecasyllable verse]
in-cóg-ni-ok and-fortune teller? [hexsyllable verse]

Read too: What is poetry?

Differences between verse, stanza and rhyme

The concepts of verse, stanza and rhyme are quite different:

  • Verse: is each line of a poem.

  • Stanza: it is each of the “little blocks” that make up the poem. Thus, the stanza consists of lines, which may or may not rhyme with each other.

  • Rime: it is the coincidence of sound between words located in different verses.

Let’s see examples of each in the sonnet “Satan” from Cruz and Sousa|5|.

Capro and revel, with the fabulous horns
On the royal forehead of the king of ancient kings,
With bizarre and lewd contours,
Behold, Satan among the august Satans.

By greens and by Bacchic adornments
Go crowned with venustos meadows
The heathen god of acrid, lukewarm Wines,
God the triumphant of the righteous triumphant.

Archangelic and bold, in radiant suns,
The purple of flaming glories,
Spread the wings of brave reliefs...

The Dream shakes his immortal head...
And loose to the suns and strange and rippled and thick
The mane of flavos sings to him!

The first and second stanzas of the sonnet have four lines each. The third and fourth, three verses each. In addition, the following words rhyme: “cornos”/ “contours”; “old”/ “augustos”; “adornments”/ “warm”; “venustos”/ “just”; “radiant”/ “flaming”; “bravos”/ “flavos”; and “head”/ “thick”.


|1| BANDEIRA, Manuel. The cactus. In: ______. poetic anthology. 6. ed. Sao Paulo: Global, 2013.

|2| BRITTO, Paulo Henriques. Circular. In: ______. shapes of nothing. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012.

|3| ANJOS, Augusto dos. The schisms of fate. In: ______. me and other poems. Porto Alegre: L&PM, 2010.

|4| MEIRELES, Cecilia. poetic anthology. 3. ed. Sao Paulo: Global, 2013.

|5| CRUZ AND SOUSA. Satan. In: ______. brockets. Available in:. Accessed on: 15 Jul. 2022.

By Warley Souza
Literature teacher

Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/o-que-e/portugues/o-que-e-verso.htm

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