The Differences and Similarities Between Prose and Verse
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In an English or Literature class, a student is very likely to hear the terms “prose” and “verse” used quite often, either in their professor’s lectures or from information written in their textbooks – for these terms generally refer to the way a published work is written, and their specific arrangement of sentences and paragraph structure. These texts include short stories and novels, plays and poems, to name only a few; however, these two terms (prose and verse) should not be used interchangeably: though they are very similar in many regards, they essentially mean two entirely different things. And anyone in higher education ought to know the difference and be able to use these terms properly, correctly and intelligently.
There are several ways that the two terms – “verse” and “prose” – compare. By definition, they both exist in the context of language. They are important because they refer to the arrangement of the sentences and paragraphs written and published in the English language; therefore, they both have a basic purpose of being read and interpreted in this particular language. Sentences and paragraphs of novels, novellas, short stories, plays, essays, scripts, are all written in prose. But poetry is written in verse, like the kind in The Bible. So the similarities between “verse” and “prose” mostly deal with language and literature, and pertain to the structuring of sentences and paragraphs in the context of literature.
And, then, the two terms, “verse” and “prose,” contrast in the other ways. One contrast is the style of each, which can be understood in its definition. This essay is an example of prose, language this is written how people speak, without a metrical structure. It is seen in sentences, in paragraphs, in chapters. The purpose of prose, depending on genre, is meant to educate, inform or describe. Verse, seen mostly in poetry, has a distinct style and generally has a rhythm, or a meter. It is written not in paragraphs, but in stanzas made up of just several lines and line breaks that are generally brief in nature. The following example of verse is the second stanza of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee”:
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love –
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
Unlike prose, sentences in verse are broke down and split apart. Each line of a stanza, which is a group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit of a poem, usually rhymes with another and has a meter, the rhythm of the poetic line.
Though the two terms may not be used too frequently in the private world, depending on one’s profession and career field, “verse” and “prose” are indeed used quite a bit in higher education. So it benefits the student in the long run if they learn the meanings and characteristics of these two words. “Verse” refers to the particular kind of way in which certain literature, such as poetry, is written – not in running sentences that make up paragraph after paragraph, like is the case with prose, but in generally pithy lines that comprise a stanza. So both “verse” and “prose” generally refer to the way in which language is written or printed on a page.
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