History:

The Balassi Stanza is a poetry lyric form introduced by Balint Balassi, (1551-1594), also recorded as Baron Valentin Balassi, and Balint Balassa, considered the most renown lyric poet in Hungarian literature.

Structure:

  • Nine lines
  • Lines 3, 6 and 9 share end-rhymes
  • Remaining lines share an end rhyme
  • Any number of stanzas
  • syllable counts 667667667

Note on syllable count: We’re still investigating this. So far the only sources we’ve found that claims that this is the syllable count are casual websites that are all literally just quoting Jewel of Promise By Christina R. Jussaume, (who seems to be a christian non-academic poet, and this one of her collections of poetry), and no historically based scholarly source yet claims this syllable count. So take it with a grain of salt. If you have some sort of scholarly source (Lewis Turco totally super counts, btw), backing this syllable count, please comment below.

That said, they all, (and we mean all, ) say the following, verbatim (listen, it’s just irritating. At least go to the trouble of paraphrasing. It’s like a circle-jerk of parrots…) “who rationalised it from a three line form consisting of 19 syllables per line, and broke it up by the use of internal rhymes.”

So, this would mean that the original source for the form would be

  • Three lines
  • 19 syllables each
  • All lines share end rhymes
  • All lines also internally rhyme at the beginning and middle of the lines
    1b/2b/3a
    4b/5b/6a
    7b/8b/9a

This seems infinitely more interesting to do as a form, honestly. Anyhow, we’re still investigating.

Sources:

Reich, E. (2004). /Hungarian literature: an historical & critical survey/. Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific. [Hungarian Literature: An Historical & Critical Survey – Emil Reich – Google Books]

Cavanagh, C., Cushman, S., Greene, R., Ramazani, J., & Rouzer, P. (2012). /The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition/. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition – Google Books]