An elegiac stanza is a quatrain (four-line stanza) of iambic pentameter, with an alternate rhyme scheme (a-b-a-b).[1]


The stanza form was originally known as a heroic stanza until 1750, when Thomas Gray used it to write his "Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard." For the next hundred years it became the form for elegiac poetry.[1]

    The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
        The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
    The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
        And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
    (Thomas Gray, "Lines Written in a Country Church-Yard")


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Elegiac stanza," Encyclopedia Britannica, Britannica Online, Web, July 18, 2011.

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