Burns Stanza

Burns Stanza is the current name of the form also known as the Standard Habbie, the Scottish Stanza, or the Six-Line Stave.

Standard Habbie
Type: Structure, Metrical Requirement, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Stanzaic
Description: A stanzaic sestet with lines of two lengths and two rhymes. Lines 1, 2, 3, and 5 are four feet long with the “a” rhyme. Lines 4 and 6 are two feet long with the “b” rhyme.
Attributed to: Habbie Simson, the piper of Kilbarchan
Origin: Scottish
Schematic: Rhyme: aaabab
Meter (Iambic):
xX xX xX xX
xX xX xX xX
xX xX xX xX
xX xX
xX xX xX xX
xX xX
Rhythm/Stanza Length:

Pasted from http://www.poetrybase.info/forms/002/297.shtml
My Thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his work on the wonderful poetrybase resource.

Burns stanza
The Burns stanza is named after Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns (1759-1796). The form already existed before he made it his own; its old name was standard Habbie, after Habbie Simpson (1550-1620), the Piper of Kilbarchan, its earliest known exponent. (I have seen the spelling standart Habbie often enough to think that maybe it isn’t a misprint after all.) This form is also sometimes known as the Scottish stanza or the six-line stave.
Stanzas have 6 lines rhyming aaabab, the a lines having four feet each and the b lines two, something like this:

The Fire Brigade

Their uniforms are so divine,
A shiver tingles up my spine!
I swear I never saw so fine
A band of men.
Their mission: let nothing combine
With oxygen.

My heroes! For although each knows
The perils, through the fire he goes
Armed only with a rubber hose
With which he aims
His stream at all the reddest glows
To douse the flames.

Such gallantry! And yet he spurns
The prize his courage surely earns.
My ardour for his brave heart burns
And won’t extinguish.
I serenade him à la Burns
(Although in English).

The Burns stanza is an example of rime couée.
Notable Burns stanzas
A great deal of Burns’ work, including To a Mouse, To a Louse, To a Haggis, etc. A nice modern example is W N Herbert’s To a Mousse.

Pasted from http://volecentral.co.uk/vf/burns.htm
My thanks to Bob Newman for his years of work on the wonderful Volecentral resource.

My example poem

No Insomnia, the Fox (Burns Stanza)

The foxes sleep without concern
then yawn and wake and take their turn
at foraging with time to burn;
and when they’re done
from all their worries they adjourn.
and just have fun.

I often wished that I could sleep
without a need for counting sheep
but having problems seems to keep
my mind awake
I’ve bills to pay and floors to sweep
for heaven’s sake.

The things the neighbor lady said
about another neighbor’s bread
(a cause for gustatory dread)
now interrupt
with thoughts of recipes instead
I can’t keep up.

Today I didn’t gas the car.
Tomorrow I can’t drive too far.
I’m meeting Bobby at the bar,
and with his dad!
Is that unusual? bizarre?
or is it rad?

I need to get my clothes all clean.
I’ll wash them in our new machine.
Perhaps I’ll cut down on caffeine.
And then I’ll doze
without the thinking in between,
do you suppose?

The foxes living near our yard
don’t think of debts or their bank card.
They don’t find sleeping very hard.
Live for today
is seemingly a fox canard;
can that be hard?

The foxes sleep without concern
then yawn and wake and take their turn
At foraging with time to burn;
and when they’re done
from all their worries they adjourn.
and just have fun.

The foxes sleep without a care,
their ears alert to what’s out there
detecting sounds with time to spare
and then they play.
It’s here and now, not when and where.
Let’s live today!

© Lawrencealot – August 4, 2014

Visual Template
(6 lines or multiple)

Burns Stanza