Difference Between Verse and Prose

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 15, 2023


Difference Between Verse and Prose

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We cannot imagine a world without stories that inspire us or let us use our imagination, without songs and poems that help express the deepest and most complex of feelings, or without gathering a bunch of knowledge from books and magazines. A world without literature is an incomplete world. We could say that literature is a part of our daily lives and we do not even recognize it sometimes.

Verse and Prose are types of literary genres that play a great role in the world of literature. They are different in matters of their structure and form of writing.

A verse is expressed in a rhythmical structure. Poems that rhyme are a good example of verse. Prose, however, does not have a fixed metrical structure and is expressed freely. Novel writing is an example of prose.

Let us look deeper into the differences between verse and prose from this article.

Verse vs Prose

Verse and prose are literary works that differ in their form and usage.

While verse has a metrical rhythm, prose does not follow such rhythm. Prose is the expression of words without any form of metrical structure. Verse, on the other hand, follows a structure, and it cannot be expressed freely.

Verse follows an arrangement that forms into various stanzas like the ones in a poem. However, prose follows a loosely laid structure, and we use it in our day-to-day communication process as well. The language used in prose is more direct, whereas verse uses rhythmical and creative language. In short, there are many differences between verse and prose.

Difference Between Verse And Prose In Tabular Form

DefinitionIt is a type of literary genre that follows a metrical structure.It is a literary genre that follows a basic loosely formed structure and does not follow metrical structure.
Language usedIt uses rhythmical and poetic language.It uses simple and natural language.
Comprises ofIt comprises lines and stanzas.It contains sentences and paragraphs.
RhymeIt forms lines that rhyme with one another.It does not require texts that rhyme with one another.
Written byIt is written by poets.It is written by authors or writers.
ExamplePoems, songs, etc.Novels, articles, encyclopedias, etc.

What is a Verse?

We often read poems and admire works of art as they express deep feelings or even simple things about life so creatively. We often tune in to songs and sing along when we love the songs or relate to them. Poets and lyricists mostly write poems and songs in a way that the lines rhyme with one another, and these lines produce a rhythm. The lines are arranged into different stanzas that form the final output of a song or a poem. These metrically structured lines that have a rhythm are called verses.

A verse is a literary work that uses metrical structure to form writings that form a rhythm or rhyme. It follows a specific arrangement of meaningful words and lines that rhyme to construct a poem or a song.

An example of a verse is Dylan Thomas's poem 'Do not go gentle into that good night' where two of the lines go like this –

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Another example would be Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself" which include verses like –

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Origin of Verse

The word verse comes from the Latin word versus, which translates to a 'line of writing.' It also has its base from the Proto-Indo-European root wer, which means 'to turn or to bend'.

Brief History of Verse

Verse has a very long history in literature. Even though we do not use it as regularly as prose in our day-to-day conversations, people used it way earlier in literature than in prose. It was considered more high-class and artistic compared to prose in the earlier years.

Blank verse existed earlier in Latin and Greek heroic verse. Later on, they were adapted by Italian poets, one of whom was Giovanni Rucellai. He was the first person to use the term versi sciolti, which means blank verse when translated into English.

When it comes to the English language, blank verse was first used by Henry Howard in his poem 'Earl of Surrey'. It was a translation of Virgil's Aeneid (29-19 BC) in the mid-sixteenth century.

William Shakespeare also used blank verses in his poems and plays, adding iambic pentameter to his writings. Likewise, several well-known poets used blank verse till the mid-20th century. However, poets moved towards writing free verse instead of blank verse from the mid-20th century. Blank verse is often considered old-fashioned by many, and poets prefer to use free verse instead because it has fewer constraints and is less formal than blank verse.

Free verse has a separate history as well. Free verse comes from the French word vers libre. It has a history of existing right from the times of the biblical Song of Songs, which was loosely based on the original Hebrew cadences. The poets named Gustave Kahn and Jules Laforge were the first to use the term vers libre in the 1880s. Free verse had been popularized worldwide by 1918.

Walt Whitman was considered to be the most influential pioneer of free verse. He inspired poets like Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, and Patricia Lockwood. Free verse is also less complex and more flexible. Hence, most contemporary poets chose to use free verse since the 20th century. Poets sometimes mix free verse with a hint of meter to create a unique and creative piece of writing.


Verse has several distinct characteristics that are given below:

  • Metrical Structure - A verse is created using a specific metrical structure that forms rhythmical writings. It includes the arrangement of syllables of words in a way that creates a rhythmical pattern. However, one must make sure that it does not compromise with the feelings these words must express.
  •  Rhyme – Verses are often written in such a way that the ends of the lines rhyme with one another. The composed writing would have lines with matching patterns and sounds.
  • Poetic Devices – Verses involve various poetic devices. Poetic devices are special literary ways of using words and syllables creatively to convey meaning while producing a rhythm simultaneously. Verses use poetic devices like alliteration, metaphor, simile, etc., to bring an aesthetic appeal to the writings.
  • Elevated Language – Verses involve using formal language that evokes beauty and creativity.

Types of Verse

Verses are categorized into the following types:

  • Rhymed Verse – Rhymed verse is the most common type of verse that follows a metrical structure and uses rhyming words to form a pattern.
  • Free Verse – Free verse does not follow a set structure or pattern. As the name suggests, free verse can be written freely without constraints.
  • Blank Verse – A blank verse is a type of verse that uses metrical structure but is unrhymed.

The word iambic describes words with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. For example – the word ‘release’ consists of an unstressed syllable, re and a stressed syllable, lease. Pentameter on the other hand means five meters. An iambic pentameter has five sets of stressed syllables and unstressed syllables in a line.

Iambic pentameters are used to make the writings more attractive to the readers.

What is a Prose?

Prose is a literary genre that we commonly use in our daily lives. Even when we converse, we use prose as a form of communication.

Prose is a type of literature that does not follow a metrical structure but has a loosely based grammatical structure. It has a natural flow to it and does not contain poetic rhymes or patterns. It is the most common form of literature used in novels, essays, short stories, encyclopedias, journals, speeches, and of course our daily conversations.

Some examples of prose are:

First lines in well-known novels like –

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

- A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1859)

Famous lines of prose like –

There was a star riding through clouds one night, after the garden party, and I said to the star, "Consume me."

- Virginia Wolf, The Waves

Origin of Prose

The word prose came from the identical Middle French word 'prose'. It is again a short version of the Latin phrase prosa oratio which means direct speech. Its first ever appearance was made in the fourteenth century in the Wycliffe Bible, which is a popular translation of Latin text into Middle English. Prose was also used by the author Geoffrey Chaucer around the same time in his book 'The Tale of Melibee'.

Brief History of Prose

When it comes to everyday communication, prose has always been popular. In literary work, however, the case is different. Prose came way after verse and poetry in literary history. Even though prose was used in literature, it was rarely used and people considered it artless.

The rise of prose came in the 18th century in the form of novels. People's views about prose changed for good, and it was not considered classless anymore. Samuel Richardson came up with a novel called Pamela in the year 1740. It was a highly successful novel during those times that made way for prose literature to be accepted and loved by the readers.

At present prose literature, from fiction to non-fiction, has become very popular and dominant in the world of literature.


A prose has the following characteristics that make it different from a verse. The characteristics are:

  • Flexibility – Prose does not follow a precise structure strictly. It is flexible as it does not adhere to patterns, structure, grammar, or rhymes.
  • Natural Language – Simple and everyday language is used in prose. Authors are not required to use elevated and poetic language. Authors write straightforwardly to convey their messages to the readers.
  • Narrative Style – Writers use prose for storytelling as it gives them the freedom to describe the characters, events, settings of the story, etc., whichever way the writers want to.
  • Informal in Tone – Everyday language is used in prose. It involves informal language that most people understand. Our daily conversations are also a part of prose. Therefore, it is accessible and understandable to a wider range of readers.

Types of Prose

Prose is divided into four categories. They include:

  • Non-fictional Prose – This type of prose is used for literary works that involve fact-based materials or true stories. Some of these writings may also have a touch of fictional elements to them however; most of them are based on true stories and events. Non-fictional prose includes biographies, autobiographies, journals, letters, etc.
  • Fictional Prose – The word fictional means unreal. We can guess by the name itself that fictional prose is a type of writing that does not include a real happenings or events. This type of prose does not contain any truth in it, although it may connect to reality in some aspects. These are a result of sheer creativity by the writers. Some examples of fictional prose are novels like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.
  • Heroic Prose – We all may have often heard tales of heroism narrated by our parents or grandparents. These tales are called heroic prose. Heroic prose is a literary work that tells tales of heroism. These writings are meant to be recited orally and are expressed as folklores and other oral traditions. They include legends and tales of heroism.
  • Prose Poetry – Prose and verse are not always completely separated from each other. Sometimes they are used together to form another type of writing called prose poetry.. Prose poetry is when prose and poetry are used together in writings. It involves writing poetically using elevated and creative language that is usually used in poetry or verses. However, it does not follow strict metrical structure.

Main Differences Between Verse and Prose in Points

  • Verse is a literary genre that follows a metrical structure. As against, prose is a literary work that does not require a metrical structure.
  • Verse uses formal language, whereas prose uses informal language.
  • Verse follows an aesthetic approach to constructing lines. As opposed to that, prose follows a direct approach.
  • Poets and lyricists engage in writing verses, whereas authors and writers engage in writing prose.
  • Verse is written in the form of lines which are grouped into stanzas. On the other hand, prose is written in the form of sentences which are grouped into paragraphs.
  • Rhythmical language is used in a verse, whereas natural and everyday language is used in prose.
  • Poems and songs are some examples of verses. Some examples of prose are stories, novels, case studies, etc.


Verse and prose are two important literary genres having different features.

While verses follow a metrical structure, prose does not have to follow such a structure. A verse follows a certain pattern of writing, whereas prose does not follow such a pattern and is written freely. Verses use elevated language to express emotions and feelings artistically. Prose, on the other hand, uses simple and natural language that can be expressed directly. Hence, it is accessible to most readers as it does not use complex language.

Therefore, we can conclude that verse and prose have very distinct features and are used for different purposes.


  • https://telgurus.co.uk/what-is-the-difference-between-verse-and-prose-and-why-is-it-important/
  • https://www.studysmarter.co.uk/explanations/english-literature/literary-devices/verse/
  • https://study.com/learn/lesson/prose-english-literature-overview-examples.html
  • https://testbook.com/key-differences/difference-between-prose-and-verse


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"Difference Between Verse and Prose." Diffzy.com, 2023. Thu. 28 Sep. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-verse-and-prose>.

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