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What Is a Verse Paragraph?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2016
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A verse paragraph is an element or unit of poetry that is identified by line breaks. The verse paragraph is an aspect of free verse poetry that disregards strict metric requirements for constructing poems. Verse paragraphs are designated by a blank line above and below them, so that each of these units appears as an isolated section of text. This helps to provide a more detailed flow for a work of poetry, although again, without the strict conventions conventional to classic poetry.

Many experts contrast verse paragraphs with stanzas. As an element of more classical poetry, the stanza is a set of lines which, like the verse paragraph, is identified by line breaks above and below the text. The difference is that while verse paragraphs have no fixed length or number of lines, stanzas usually have a fixed set of lines with fixed meters and rhyming patterns. Stanzas are often marked with rhyme scheme patterns that make the poem fit into a number of common categories of verse in antiquated poetic forms.

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Another way to describe the verse paragraph is that, instead of separating sets of lines of poetry according to technical requirements for classic poetry, free verse uses verse paragraphs to separate these units by topic, theme, or idea. The verse paragraph is an excellent example of how free verse replaces strict requirements for structure with a freer, more intuitive structure based on the poet’s intentions and appeals to emotions. The appeal to emotions is often seen as the primary impetus or inspiration for the modern poem, where the actual text may be fragmented and relatively unaccessible to the common reader, and where these chaotic pages are a way for the poet to express visceral feelings.

Academics and others may refer to units of free verse as verse paragraphs because each unit resembles a paragraph in prose. There’s also the argument that the name for these units might partially come from the verses of the Judeo-Christian Bible and other holy texts, which also do not often require a fixed set of lines or meter for separating each unit. Readers can find out more about the verse paragraph through examining examples in pieces of classic literature, such as John Milton’s Paradise Lost, where the individual units of poetry do not include a fixed set of lines. In many cases, these poems may look like prose, but they will often include specific characteristics of poetry, or in the case of Paradise Lost, epic poetry, that distinguish them from regular prose narratives.

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