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Prose vs. Verse: An Overview

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Before beginning consider these two examples :

Example 1 –  

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

I give Pirrip as my father’s family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister – Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father’s, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, “Also Georgiana Wife of the Above,” I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Example 2 –

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

  • Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening; Robert Frost

One of these two is the prose and the other is the verse. Can you identify them? If yes, congratulations! You only need to revise the key points about prose and verse.  If not confident, this blog will clear all your doubts regarding these two.

Let’s begin.

An Overview of a Prose

Prose is a literary term that many people use to refer to all forms of writing. Prose, however, by definition, relates to particular aspects of writing.

The prose is a writing style that does not adhere to a metre or rhyme scheme. Instead, writing uses words to create phrases that are organised into sentences and paragraphs, and it adheres to a grammatical framework. It is employed to convey concepts, ideas, and narratives to readers directly. The prose is a style of writing that has an almost naturally verbal flow and is most frequently found in both fictional and non-fictional works of literature, including books, magazines, and journals.

The structure of prose is composed of sentences, phrases, and paragraphs. This style of writing has a rhythm more akin to spoken language and conversation. In contrast to the figurative form of poetry, this makes it the greatest writing style for articulating and communicating ideas, concepts, and events in a clear and concise manner.

For example, consider this portion from The Catcher in the Rye

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, what my lousy childhood was like, how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it if you want to know the truth.

You can observe from this example how the words flow more naturally and directly convey the information or meaning being conveyed than poetry does.

 The Types of Prose

The concept we developed applies to all four types of prose, yet writers employ the writing style in a variety of ways. These many goals can be divided into four different categories.

Non-Fictional Prose

Non-fictional prose is a type of writing that is based on real events and accurate accounts rather than the imagination of the author. This type of writing can be found in newspapers, periodicals, journals, biographies, and textbooks. A well-known example of non-fictional prose is Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.

Look at the text below from that book –

“I’ll begin from the moment I got you, the moment I saw you lying on the table among

My other birthday presents. (I went along when you were bought, but that doesn’t count.)

On Friday, June 12, I was awake at six o’clock, which isn’t surprising since it was my birthday. But I’m not allowed to get up at that hour, so I had to control my curiosity until quarter to seven. When I couldn’t wait any longer, I went to the dining room, where Moortje (the cat) welcomed me by rubbing against my legs.

A little after seven, I went to Daddy and Mama and then to the living room to open.

My presents and you were the first thing I saw, maybe one of my nicest presents.”

Fictional Prose

Contrary to nonfiction, fictional prose contains all or part of the author’s imagination. In stories like Romeo and Juliet, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or Brave New World, the events, characters, and plot are all made up. Novels, short tales, and novellas of this genre are available.

Here is an example from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

“TOM presented himself before Aunt Polly, who was sitting by an open window in a pleasant rearward apartment, which was the bedroom, breakfast room, dining room, and library combined. The balmy summer air, the restful quiet, the odour of the flowers, and the drowsing murmur of the bees had had their effect, and she was nodding over her knitting–for she had no company but the cat, and it was asleep in her lap. Her spectacles were propped up on her grey head for safety.”

Heroic Prose

A piece of literature known as heroic prose is intended to be read aloud and transmitted through written or oral tradition. Heroic literature has been preserved across time in the form of legends, mythology, fables, and parables.

The Icelandic sagas from the 13th century are a type of prose known as heroic sagas. The “heroic sagas” like the Thidriks saga (circa 1250) and Vlsunga saga (around 1270) are based on ancient Germanic oral tradition that dates back to the 4th to 6th century. They contain many passages from vanished heroic lays. On the other hand, the “Icelander sagas” depict native Icelandic families who follow the grim and complex rule of the blood feud. They are considered to be of higher aesthetic quality, with examples including the Grettis saga (Grettir the Strong) and Njáls saga (both written around 1300).

 Prose Poetry

Prose poetry is poetry that is articulated and written in prose. This can be viewed as a sort of hybrid between the two that occasionally makes use of rhythmic measures. This kind of poetry is typically written in paragraph form, but it frequently uses more figurative language.

Amy Lowell’s “Spring Day” is a notable example of prose poetry. This was published in 1916 by American poet Lowell and is nearly like a collection of short stories written in prose poetry form.

Here is a section of text from the example mentioned above –


The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.

The sunshine pours in at the bathroom window and bores through the water in the bathtub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel and cracks it to bright light.

Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear; the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots….”

Prove vs Verse – Learn the Difference with Examples

The verse and prose forms are the standard structures used in literary works. Explore these examples to understand the difference between the two. Perhaps you can cite their pros and cons yourself. 

Prose vs. Verse: An Overview Examples

Check this Prose vs. Verse: An Overview Examples

View Sample

The Purpose of Prose in Literature 

Why and when is prose used? Consider a situation when you want to tell a narrative but you aren’t sure if poetry or prose will work better.

It’s critical to comprehend the writing style’s advantages before deciding whether prose is the best option. The same is discussed below –

Direct communication

Writing in prose is often more straightforward and less abstract than writing poetry. This allows writers to convey information more directly and effectively in order to achieve their storytelling goals, whether they are writing fiction or nonfiction.

Curates a voice

When writing a character’s voice, using conversational language can be highly effective for both novels and short stories. Think about someone you know well and the unique way they speak that reflects their personality. Prose allows writers to create distinct voices for their characters.

Connects to the readers

In addition to creating well-crafted characters, language plays a crucial role in establishing a connection with readers. By adopting a conversational style, writers can make their readers feel like they are right there with them. Hunter S. Thompson’s nonfiction book Hell’s Angels is an excellent example of this approach, as his unique voice and writing style creates a sense of intimacy with the reader.

Here are a few examples mentioned below. Read it and see if it satisfies the points above –

Example 1

“A host of small frogs filled the water, feeding on the algae that turned the surface of the lagoon into a translucent jelly. A nervous egret plunged through the haze, hunting the small snakes that, in turn, fed upon the frogs. It burst from the water and screamed across the ferry. The wriggling form in its beak covered the air with calligraphy of pain.”


Example 2

“For a moment, the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.”


An Overview of Verse

Verse usually refers to a stanza or a single line in a poem. But very often, an entire poem is also referred to as the verse.

Verse is a term used to describe organised writing that is typically done in a specific meter, particularly in the form of a poem. In academic settings, it can also refer to a specific kind of meter, such as a hexameter verse. The term “verse” can also be used to describe a stanza, although this is a more informal usage. Additionally, “verse” can be used as an adjective to describe a poetically-formed composition like a verse drama.

 The Types of Verses

There are two basic types of poetry verse: free verse and blank verse. Despite being categorised as verse types, they take completely different approaches.

Blank Verse

Latin and Greek heroic verse both contained early examples of blank verse. Italian poets like Giovanni Rucellai, who coined the term “versi sciolti,” then modified these forms. This phrase originated in Italian, but when the form reached the English-speaking world, it was translated as “blank verse.”

Iambic pentameter is the most typical form of unrhymed blank verse.

Although the blank verse is mostly used in the case of poetry, Shakespeare made an exception then by using the same in his plays. The Shakespearian can be a great example of verse plays.

The blank verse in the English language was first used by Henry Howard in the poem Earl of Surrey. After this, Shakespeare made use of blank verse in both his poems and plays.

Example 1

Read this text from Hamlet –

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears

Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,

She married. O most wicked speed, to post

With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!

It is not, nor cannot come to good,

But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

Example 2

John Milton’s Paradise Lost is also a great example of blank verse, and here is a portion of it –

Hail holy light, offspring of Heav’n first-born,

Or of the Eternal Coeternal beam

May I express thee unblamed? Since God is light,

And never but in unapproached light

Dwelt from Eternitie, dwelt then in thee,

The bright effluence of bright essence increate

Or hear’st thou rather pure Ethereal stream,

Whose Fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun,

Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice

Of God, as with a Mantle didst invest

The rising world of waters dark and deep,

Won from the void and formless infinite

There has been vast use of blank verse in English literature, particularly in crafting English Literature Essay. Initially, it was preferred because of its closeness to the cadence of ordinary speech. But now, it is often considered old-fashioned. This is mostly due to the basic formal structure and the lengthier lines.

 Free Verse

Vers Libre or Free verse technically has no metre. It is regarded as non-metrical since it lacks rhyme and a fixed framework. When compared to blank verse, free verse is regarded as more relaxed and informal because it aims to emulate the speech patterns of common speech. Some free verse poems may have their own distinctive rhythms; nevertheless, these rhythms are not predetermined but rather organic and improvised.

During the 1880s, writers such as Gustave Kahn and Jules Laforge popularised the term “vers libre,” which became known as free poetry. While the French Symbolists had already used a similar style of free poetry, it is widely recognised that this was the beginning of free verse’s widespread acceptance. The term “vers libre” had been translated and commonly used by 1918, and the poet and critic Ezra Pound wrote about free verse in his work “In Retrospect” (1918). He compared it to a musical phrase, contrasting it with a mechanical or predictable metronome.

Walt Whitman was arguably the most well-known and significant English-language free verse pioneer. His poetry served as an inspiration for writers like Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, and Patricia Lockwood, as well as movements like Surrealism and the Beat Generation.

This line from his poem demonstrates how graphical elements can be used in free poetry.

O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead

Since the middle of the 20th century, the majority of modern poets have employed free verse due to its adaptability and less formal nature. There are several instances from various cultures and movements that can be read.

Here are a few examples of free verse in English literature

Example 01

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards were torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—


But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps…

’Cause you find it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now —

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

  • Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Example 02

A touch of cold in the autumn night—

I walked abroad,

And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge

Like a red-faced farmer.

I did not stop to speak but nodded,

And roundabout were the wistful stars

With white faces like town children

  • Autumn by T.E Hulme

Key Differences between Prose and Verse 

Poetry and prose are both vital components of literature. Language structure is where they diverge. Prose and verse are fundamentally different from one another because prose is written naturally while verse is produced with a metrical structure; verse refers to language used in poetry, while prose refers to language used in its original and natural form.

Here is a comparison chart between the two –

MeaningProse refers to the language in its basic form having no metrical structure.The verse implies the literary work, which is organised using metrical rhythm.
What is it?A form of text.A form of poetic composition
RhymeDoes not play an important role.Plays a significant role.
Language usedNatural language is used.Creative and rhythmical.
Comprises ofSentences and paragraphsLines and stanzas.
Written byAuthor/writerPoet
ApproachPragmatic or DirectAesthetical

The key points are discussed below –

  • Prose is a type of literary genre that follows a simple grammatical framework in its sentences and paragraphs. In contrast, verse consists of words arranged in a specific design or rhythm that follows a metrical pattern.
  • The verse is a type of poetic composition, whereas prose is a type of text.
  • While there is no rhyme or rhythm in a stanza, rhyme and rhythm are important in poetry.
  • When writing prose, it is important to use proper grammar. However, when writing poetry, the language can be more creative and rhythmic.
  • When writing in prose, sentences are organised into paragraphs. However, in poetry, words are structured into lines, which can be either a single metric line or a group of lines called a stanza.
  • An author or writer creates prose, but a poet creates poetry.
  • The construction of sentences in prose is practical or direct. Verse, on the other hand, takes an artistic tack.

This is how prose is different from verse, and hopefully, after this discussion, you won’t be confused ever again.

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Most Popular Questions Searched By Students

What is the difference between a prose and a verse novel?

In prose, sentences are put together to make paragraphs. But in a verse, the words are arranged in lines, either a single metrical line or a collection of lines known as a stanza. An author or writer creates prose, but a poet creates poetry.

Is prose a type of poetry?

No prose is not type of poetry. Novels, short tales, novellas, and scripts are all considered prose. Because these writing styles use terminology that is commonplace in spoken conversation, which is not similar to that of poetry.

What is the prose in literature?

Prose is a type of writing that doesn’t have a strict pattern of rhythm or rhyme. Instead, it uses words to create sentences and paragraphs that follow proper grammar. Its purpose is to communicate ideas, concepts, and stories to readers in a straightforward manner.

What is an example of a verse?

I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

  • Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”

The text mentioned above is an example of verse.

What is a verse in English literature?

In poetry, a verse refers to a single metrical line. But nowadays, it can also refer to any group of lines in a poem, which used to be called stanzas. Unlike prose, verse is used to refer to poetry in a general sense.

Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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