The Spenserian stanza is named after (1552?-1599), author of The Faerie Queene, and beloved of crossword compilers for his archaic and imaginative spellynge. It consists of nine lines rhyming ababbcbcc, iambic pentameters throughout except for the last line which is a hexameter or alexandrine. Here's one:
Groucho or Karl? Who scores the higher marks? Who pulls rank in the list of all-time greats? What price those cinematographic larks And lines about the people’s opiates? While Groucho makes us chuckle, Karl berates Us: Unity! Loose chains! Less thought, more deeds! Who’s better off – the man who cachinnates, Or he who’s sown with revolution’s seeds? Let’s take the best from each according to our needs.
It's not at all a bad form - The Faerie Queene runs to 6 books of these things. See also Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Shelley's Adonais, Keats' The Eve of St Agnes, and Tennyson's The Lotos-Eaters., , , and all used it, and they knew a thing or two. But there's a body of respectable opinion that feels himself overdid it.
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This page last updated 08/06/2005