The literary device verse denotes a single line of poetry. The term can also be used to refer to a stanza or other parts of poetry.
Generally, the device is stated to encompass three possible meanings, namely a line of metrical writing, a stanza, or, a piece written in meter. It is important to note here that the term “verse” is often incorrectly used for referring to “poetry” in order to differentiate it from prose.
Example #1 Daffodils by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
The above quoted stanza from William Wordsworth poem presents to the reader various examples of a verse. It can be noted here, that the use of the tool of verse adds a scenic element to the structure of poetry.
There are generally two types of verse namely free verse and blank verse.
Example #2 Free Verse
A free verse poem has no set meter; that is to say there is no rhyming scheme present and the poem doesn’t follow a set pattern. For some poets this characteristic serves as a handy tool for the purpose camouflaging their fluctuation of thoughts, whereas others think that it affects the quality of work being presented.
i. After the Sea-Ship by Walt Whitman
After the Sea-Ship—after the whistling winds;
After the white-gray sails, taut to their spars and ropes,
Below, a myriad, myriad waves, hastening, lifting up their necks,
Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship:
Waves of the ocean, bubbling and gurgling, blithely prying,
Waves, undulating waves—liquid, uneven, emulous waves,
Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant, with curves,
Where the great Vessel, sailing and tacking, displaced the surface;
As can be seen from the stanza quoted above, there is an absence of rhyming effect and structure in each verse.
ii. Fog by Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Here, it can be observed that there is no form or rhyme scheme present in the verses quoted above.
Example #3 Blank Verse
There is no rhyming effect present in a blank verse poem. However, it has an iambic pentameter. It is usually employed for presenting passionate events and to create an impact on the reader. Shakespeare was an ardent user of blank verse.
i. An Example of a Blank Verse Poem
Sweet pet by day, hunter by night. She sleeps,
she eats, she plays. My feet, caught in white paws.
She’s up the fence, watching her prey – a bird.
Poor thing, better run quick, ’cause watch, she’ll pounce!
She’ll sweetly beg for fuss, but don’t be fooled.
’Cause one minute she’ll purr and smile, then snap!
She’ll spit and hiss – and oh – surprise! A mouse.
He’s dead. A gift. Retracts her claws. Miaow!
Figure of eight between my legs, looks up
at me and purrs. The sound pulls my heartstrings.
Her big blue eyes like dinner plates – so cute.
Cunning she is, she knows I can’t resist.
Curling up tight, we sleep entwined as one.
Despite her quirks, I would not change a claw
of her. Cheeky Sammy: my snow-white queen.
The poem quoted above depicts the use of blank verse throughout. Here, it is important to note that there is no rhyming scheme present. Also, it can be seen that there is presence of iambic pentameter throughout the verses.
Functions of Verse
The use of the literary term “verse” in a piece of writing has a pleasing effect on the reader’s mind. It is usually employed in poetry writing. The poets make use of the tool of verse in order to provide their poetry with a structure. It serves as an avenue through which writers project their ideas in the form of a composition having rhyme, rhythm and deeper meanings. The device provides the writer with a framework for poetry writing.