Designing Stanza Patterns

Stanza patterns are just that —lines with indentations and white space that constitute visually appealing units. These function like regular stanzas, controlling how we read a poem and enhancing content; however, they also serve as an element of design on the page. The goal is to please the ear and the eye.

Such patterns have been composed since Shakespeare's day. He used them in his songs so they resemble measures of music:

Blow, blow, thou winter wind, Thou art not so unkind

As man's ingratitude; Thy tooth is not so keen, Because thou art not seen, Although thy breath be rude. Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly: Then, heigh-ho, the holly! This life is most jolly.

Since the Elizabethan era, these patterns have been adapted to free verse with more ornate structures and indentations. Here's an example from my files:

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