Stanza Structure: Rhyme and Reason
This table compares the stanza structures created by the rhyme schemes and typical logical developments of three lyric genres: the balade (Chaucer's "Truth" and "Gentilesse"; Wyatt's "They Flee from Me"; Surrey's "O happy dames"), the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet (Wyatt's "The Long Love" and "My Galley"), and the English or "Shakespearian" sonnet (Surrey's "Love, that Doth Reign"). Edmund Spenser's "concatenated" rhyme echoes the second rhyme of each fourth line in the fifth line to create internal couplets (ABAB-BCBC-CDCD-EE).
|Balade Stanza||Sonnet (Italian or "Petrarchan")||Sonnet (English or "Shakespearian")|
|A||A ["octave" or 8-line group sets out the poet's problem]||A [1st "quatrain" or 4-line group]|
|B||A||C [2nd quatrain]|
|C ["sestet" or 6-line group resolves it]||E [3rd quatrain]|