Stanza Exercise

An Unknown Home

An uncertain arrival

To a foreign environment,

Unpacking our bags,

Unpacking our memories,

A collective tension

Brings us together

Feelings of anticipation

Fill these halls

Will the new compare to the old?

The days pass,

Left to our own devices, past uneasy introductions

New beginnings begin to seem more comfortable


The home we come back to is not our home yet.

So we are left to ask: Where to go from here?


The chosen form of this stanza, free verse, relates closely to the meaning and content. Ultimately, the stanza acknowledges the overwhelming element of uncertainty in new surroundings. It achieves this, in part, by using free verse. Because there is no intended rhyme or meter, the technical form of the stanza evokes feelings of doubt, apprehension, and anxiety. The lack of a regimented form allows for the transition to college life, and residential life in particular, to manifest in literary terms. More specifically, when most enter the college atmosphere, they find that their lifestyle is much less regimented and disciplined. Correspondingly, the form of the stanza creates a sense of deregulation. Further reflecting this transitional period is the variation in line length. The lines that comprise the first half of the stanza are generally short, consisting of three or four words. These brief, almost interjectory remarks mirror the rushed and chaotic mindset present during the first few days in a new residential environment. As the stanza progresses, the lines increase in length, and the tone shifts from anxiety-ridden to contemplative. After adjusting to a new residential environment, it becomes possible to consider the future and how it might relate to the present circumstances. The last two lines confront the essential conflict in adjusting to a new lifestyle and living situation. Although it may seem as though we are to regard this new environment as our home, it does not feel as such. The narrator has begun to accept the new surroundings as reality: “new beginnings begin to seem more comfortable,” yet there is still a sense of resistance and hesitancy, which is apparent in the line: “the home we come back to is not our home yet.” The culmination of the stanza in a question underscores the function of the content and form; despite feelings of acceptance, there is not an instinctual feeling of home. The narrator has explained the environment, contemplated and questioned the future, yet still remains uncertain and uneasy.

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