What are the main features of a Spenserian Stanza (as seen in The Faerie Queen)?

Expert Answers

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The Spenserian Stanza consists of nine lines (eight lines of iambic pentameter followed by a single alexandrine) and a rhyme scheme of abbabbcbcc.

As seen in the opening stanza of The Faerie Queen, one can recognize the Spencerian rhyme scheme.

A gentle knight was pricking on the plaine,
Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
His angry steede did chide his foaming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full jolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fitt.

Plaine and remaine rhyme (denoted with an "a").

Shielde, fielde, wield, and yield rhyme (denoted with a "b").

Bitt, sit, and fitt rhyme (denoted by a "c").

The first eight lines are written in iambic pentameter and the final line is written using an alexandrine.

A gentle knight was pricking on the plaine

Bold-faced text denotes the stressed syllable, while the unstressed syllables are left in normal font. Each foot is represented by a stressed and unstressed combination. The line contains five feet.

As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fitt.

Here, the alexadrine is created with a six foot line. Again the bolded text denoting the stressed syllables.

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