Isometric Stanza

I-so-meht-trick stahn-zuh

An isometric stanza is a set of lines, all of which are the same length. It could be as long or as short as the poet wants. 

E.g. An example of an isometric stanza can be found in Tennyson's 'In Memoriam: A.H.H.': "Thou wilt not leave us in the dust: / Thou madest man, he knows not why..."

An isometric stanza is an interesting poetic form that has been used for centuries to convey ideas creatively and effectively. It is a type of poetry composed of three lines of equal length, each containing the same number of syllables.

Isometric Stanza Definition and Examples

Isometric Stanza Definition

An isometric stanza is a poetic form consisting of any number of lines that follow a specific pattern of syllables and rhyme scheme. These stanzas are unique because each line is exactly the same length. Poets have to use the same exact number of syllables in each stanza and each line in order for the poem to be called isometric.

It’s also important to note that one stanza might be isometric while another is not. This is far more common in poetry. 

Examples of Isometric Stanzas

A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

‘A Psalm of Life’ is not Longfellow’s best-known poem, but it is a good example of a poem that uses isometric stanzas. The stanzas are short, only four lines each, and written in trochaic tetrameter. Here is the first: 

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

   Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

   And things are not what they seem.

While all the stanzas aren’t perfectly isometric, most come very close. It’s hard, even for the most skilled poets, to stick to (or to even want to stick to) one meter without varying a single syllable for an entire stanza, much less an entire poem. 

Read more Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poems

In Memoriam: A.H.H. by Alfred Lord Tennyson 

‘In Memoriam: A.H.H’ is a very famous Tennyson poem that was penned to honor the life and death of one of the poet’s close friends who died very young. The poem is composed of consistent quatrains, each of which is written in iambic tetrameter. Here is one of the first:

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:

Thou madest man, he knows not why,

He thinks he was not made to die;

And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Discover more Alfred Lord Tennyson poems

The Benefits of Using an Isometric Stanza

Isometric stanzas can be used to add depth, complexity, and intrigue to your writing. This type of stanza is based on the principle of creating a “rhythmic pattern” that is unique and adds rhythm and flow to a piece of writing. The structure of an isometric stanza can also help you create an interesting structure for your piece, as it follows a more rigid format.

The visual impact of an isometric stanza can be used to create a visually stunning piece of literature. It is a great tool for highlighting keywords or phrases and drawing the reader’s attention to the important parts of the text. Additionally, by utilizing an isometric stanza, you can control the speed at which your reader takes in the information and give them time to contemplate its deeper meanings. 

An isometric stanza is perfect for any type of poetic or literary work as it can give it a professional, classically poetic feel. This type of stanza can be used to create a sense of structure and flow, making it easier for readers to grasp the main points and follow the story or poem.

How to Use an Isometric Stanza

An isometric stanza is a poetic form that uses lines of equal length and stresses the interplay of sound. This makes it an ideal form for writing poetry that emphasizes rhythm and meter.

When creating an isometric stanza, each line should contain the same number of syllables, but the rhyme scheme may differ from poem to poem. Some of the most common metrical patterns poets use include iambic pentameter and trochaic trimeter, but you can vary this to create different effects. 

To add to the overall rhythm and meter of the poem, consider using alliteration, assonance, or consonance to draw out sounds and draw attention to specific words or phrases. Additionally, the use of imagery, metaphor, and simile can help to add more depth to your poem.

The best way to get a sense of how to use an isometric stanza in your writing is to read examples by other poets and use their techniques as inspiration for your own work. You can also experiment with different rhythms, meters, and rhyme schemes until you find one that feels right for the poem you’re writing.


Are isometric stanzas common? 

No, isometric stanzas are not very common in modern writing. This type of poetic form is more commonly found in ancient poetry, such as the classical works of Homer and Virgil. However, more contemporary poets have started to explore the use of isometric stanzas in their writing.

What is the opposite of an isometric stanza? 

The opposite of an isometric stanza is a non-isometric stanza or heterometric stanza. This type of stanza does not adhere to the same set of rules as an isometric stanza, such as rhyme scheme and meter. Non-isometric stanzas can be used for free verse poetry, allowing for greater flexibility in meter and rhythm.

Are isometric stanzas easy to use? 

The answer to this question depends on the experience of the writer; however, for experienced poets, an isometric stanza can be quite easy to use. The main difficulty lies in structuring the lines so that they match the correct meter and rhyme scheme, but once these rules are followed, isometric stanzas can be fairly straightforward. Additionally, as long as a regular pattern is followed throughout the poem, it can make the writing process much easier.

Related Literary Terms 

  • Accentual Verse: focuses on the number of stressed syllables per line rather than the total number of syllables.
  • Iamb: a metrical unit. It occurs when two syllables are placed next to one another, and the first is unstressed, or short, and the second is stressed or long.
  • Poetic Foot: a foot refers to a unit of meter in poetry. It is a grouping of stressed and/or unstressed syllables.
  • Weak Ending: occurs when a poet ends a line with an unstressed syllable. Often, the syllable extends the metrical pattern beyond that which is used in most of the poem. 

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