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Types of Poems: 33 Unique Poetry Forms (With Examples)

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As an art form, poetry stands as a testament to the power of words to weave tapestries of emotions, to capture the essence of life’s profound moments, and to ignite the fire of imagination within us. It has evolved and embraced countless forms throughout history, each one distinct, evocative, and capable of touching the deepest recesses of our hearts.

In this journey, we will explore 33 poetry forms, each with its own spellbinding cadence and thought-provoking beauty. Brace yourself to be transported to the realms of joy, sorrow, love, and wonder, as we unravel the artistry and brilliance that lies within these poetic treasures.

What is Poetry?

Poetry Definition: Poetry is the art of crafting concise and impactful language that stirs emotions and expresses the core of the human experience.

Poetry is an art form that uses language to arouse feelings, spur ideas, and spark the imagination. It goes beyond the limitations of traditional language to paint pictures with words and capture the essence of human experiences in a special and condensed way.

Poets use rhythm, vivid descriptions, imaginative language, and a lyrical arrangement of words to bring their thoughts to life.

Craft of Writing Quiz (Easy)

Key Elements of Poetry

A medieval man in a thoughtful pose with long hair writing on a scroll with a feather pen at sunset

Let’s first explore the essential components that make up the world of poetry. From rhyming words and rhythmic patterns to the arrangement of lines and the use of descriptive language, these are the building blocks of poetic expression.

  • Rhyme: The repetition of similar sounds at the end of words or phrases, used to create a musical or rhythmic feel. E.g., bright and delight.
  • Meter: The rhythmic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry, which helps establish a consistent beat or inflection. E.g., in “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Each foot consists of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable for a rhythm of da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM.
  • Stanza: A group of lines in a poem that are separated from other groups by line breaks, similar to a paragraph in prose. A couplet has two lines, a tercet three, a quatrain four, and a quintain five lines.
  • Enjambment: The continuation of a sentence or thought from one line of poetry to the next without a pause, which improves flow and creates suspense or surprise.
  • Theme: The main idea, message, or underlying concept explored in a poem, usually an emotion or universal truth.
  • Imagery: Descriptive language that appeals to the senses and conjures up evocative mental pictures and sensory experiences. E.g., “The golden sun melted into the horizon, casting a warm orange glow over the rippling waves, as seagulls soared gracefully through the cotton candy clouds.”
  • Symbolism: The use of objects, colors, or actions to represent abstract ideas or concepts, adding layers of meaning and depth to a poem. E.g., a mockingbird representing innocence and purity.

What is a Poem?

A poem is a specific piece of writing that embodies the art form of poetry. It is a creative composition that uses various poetic techniques (such as rhyme, meter, imagery, and figurative language) to describe thoughts, feelings, or experiences in a condensed and artistic way.

On the other hand, poetry is a broader term that encompasses the entire genre or category of literary art characterized by rhythmic and imaginative language. Poetry refers to the collective body of works that utilize poetic techniques, while a poem is a specific example or instance of poetry.

Types of Poems

Poem Definition: A poem is a piece of artistic writing that uses creative or lyrical language and techniques to describe feelings, thoughts, or experiences.

From the timeless elegance of sonnets to the lyrical beauty of haikus, join us as we delve into the intricate world of different types of poems, revealing their unique characteristics, structures, and charm.

In this section you can discover various types of poems in the following categories:

  1. Lyric Poetry
  2. Narrative Poetry
  3. Pastoral Poetry 
  4. Dramatic Poetry
  5. Light and Satirical Poetry
  6. Referential Poetry
  7. Experimental Poetry

Lyric Poetry

Unlike narrative poetry that tells a story, lyric poetry is more focused on capturing a particular mood, moment, or sentiment. It is a genre of poetry that expresses personal emotions, thoughts, and observations.

The themes explored in lyric poetry can vary widely, from love and nature to loss, longing, and the complexities of the human condition. By dealing with feelings that we all experience, these poems create an emotional response in readers through the power of imagery, rhythm, and the beauty of language.

Lyric poetry is written according to very specific structural rules, with each type having its own conventions and exceptions. Let’s explore the different types in detail.


A sonnet is a 14-line poem that follows a specific rhyme scheme, meter, and structure. It originated in Italy and became popularized in English poetry during the Renaissance.

As a result, there are two main types of sonnets:

  • Petrarchan Sonnet: The original Italian sonnet is divided into an eight-line and a six-line stanza. The first section often presents a question which the second part answers. The rhyme scheme for the first part is typically ABBAABBA, while the second can follow any rhyme scheme.
  • Shakespearean Sonnet: Also known as the English sonnet, this one is composed of three four-line stanzas (quatrains) and a final rhymed couplet. The rhyme scheme is typically ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Look at the start of Shakespeare’sSonnet 18” as an example:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (A)

Thou art more lovely and more temperate: (B)

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, (A)

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. (B)


When a poem expresses sorrow or grief over the loss of someone or something, it is called an elegy. It reflects on themes of mortality, remembrance, mourning, and the transient nature of life.

Elegies are often written as a tribute to honor a deceased, but they can also combine with broader themes, such as the decline of a way of life or the loss of innocence.

They’re usually structured in multiple four-line stanzas with an ABAB rhyme scheme, although many modern poets don’t follow these rules.

Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” reflects on the lives and deaths of the common people buried in a village churchyard, contemplating the transience of life and the legacy left behind.

It starts like this:

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, (A)

The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea, (B)

The plowman homeward plods his weary way, (A)

And leaves the world to darkness and to me. (B)


An ode is a form of lyrical poetry that is characterized by its praise, admiration, or celebration of a person, place, thing, or idea. It is a poetic expression of deep affection, enthusiasm, or reverence.

They usually consist of multiple four-line stanzas and employ a consistent rhyme scheme and meter that can either be ABAB, AABB, or any other. But it’s the regularity in rhyming and structure that is most important, not the specific conventions.

One type of ode has a fourth line that is shorter than the others in each stanza, while another type uses a shorter third line. But these rules are broken in irregular odes.

“Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats reflects on the transient nature of human existence and finds solace in the song of a nightingale. It uses 10-line stanzas of which the first goes like this:

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,

But being too happy in thine happiness,—

That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees

In some melodious plot

Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,

Singest of summer in full-throated ease.


Stepping out of Western poetry, a haiku is a traditional Japanese poem consisting of three non-rhyming lines. It typically follows a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, with the first line containing five, the second seven, and the third five syllables.

Each poem captures a single observation, impression, emotion, or thought. While they were traditionally focused on nature, modern haiku can be written about anything at all.

Murakami Kijo wrote this little treasure about middle age:

First autumn morning (5)

The mirror I stare into (7)

Shows my father’s face. (5)


For those whose ideas are just a little too big for a Haiku, a cinquain is written over five lines with a syllable pattern of 2-4-6-8-2 for a total of 22 syllables. Similar to haiku, they are concise, focused on one observation, and often center on nature, but they can explore other themes too.

American poet Adelaide Crapsey’s “November Night” captures one beautiful observation:


With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees

And fall.


Ghazal poems originate from Arabic and Persian literature. They traditionally consist of a first rhyming couplet, followed by couplets in which the second line rhymes with the first couplet in an AA BA CA DA structure.

Each line within the couplet is usually of equal length, and each couplet tends to be self-contained, capable of standing alone as a complete thought.

The Ghazal typically explores themes like love, desire, longing, loss, separation, and spiritual yearning, but can also touch on themes of nature, metaphysics, and divine love.

Agha Shahid Ali’s “Even the Rain” explores the themes of love, grief, memory, loss, and the persistence of sorrow:

What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain?

But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain.

“our glosses / wanting in this world” “Can you remember?”

Anyone! “when we thought / the poets taught” even the rain?

After we died—That was it!—God left us in the dark.

And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain.

Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house.

For mixers, my love, you’d poured—what?—even the rain.

Blank Verse Poems

For poets who don’t like working on rhyming words, blank verse consists of unrhymed lines written in a metered scheme called iambic pentameter. This means that each line has five pairs of an unstressed and stressed syllable, resulting in a total of ten syllables per line.

Blank verse provides a balance between structure and flexibility, combining the musicality of poetry with the natural cadence of everyday speech.

Many of the characters in Shakespeare’s plays speak in blank verse. Romeo’s famous monologue from Act 2, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet starts:

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief

That thou her maid art far more fair than she.


A villanelle is a poetic form that consists of 19 lines arranged in six stanzas, the first five with three lines and a sixth with four lines. It flows following a very specific rhyme scheme and structure of ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA.

It also employs repeated lines or refrains. The first line of the poem is repeated as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas, while the third line is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas. The final stanza, called the quatrain, uses both refrains.

The form originated from Italian folk songs and gained popularity in French poetry.

“Do not go gentle into that good night”, a poem about death by Dylan Thomas, illustrates it perfectly. Here is an extract:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Written in only one stanza, a triolet is an eight-line classic French poem that rhymes ABAAABAB. However, it only has five distinct lines, with the first repeating as the fourth and seventh, and the second repeating as the eighth.

Thomas Hardy wrote this one called “How Great My Grief”:

How great my grief, my joys how few,

Since first it was my fate to know thee!

Have the slow years not brought to view

How great my grief, my joys how few,

Nor memory shaped old times anew,

Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee

How great my grief, my joys how few,

Since first it was my fate to know thee?


A sestina poem consists of six stanzas followed by a final triplet (a total of 39 lines).

It is known for its intricate repetition of six end words, creating a unique pattern throughout the poem. The final word of each line in the first stanza becomes the final word of each line in subsequent stanzas, according to a set rotation. The final tercet then uses all six end words, with one word in the middle of each line and one at the end.

While capturing the mundane details of daily life, “Sestina” by Elizabeth Bishop follows these rules with first and final stanzas that read like this:

September rain falls on the house.

In the failing light, the old grandmother

sits in the kitchen with the child

beside the Little Marvel Stove,

reading the jokes from the almanac,

laughing and talking to hide her tears.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.

The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove

and the child draws another inscrutable house.


Another French contribution to the list, rondel poems originated in medieval France. They typically consist of thirteen lines divided into three stanzas of four, four, and five lines, although some authors start with a five-line stanza and end with a six-line one. The opening phrase or line of the first stanza is repeated as the refrain at the end of the second and third stanzas.

Its rhyming scheme starts with AABB in the first stanza, and then varies from one poet to the next.

“In Flanders Fields” by soldier and poet John McCrae describes a war in Flanders Fields among the crosses and dead who were alive just days before. It starts with the refrain as a first line, as it should. Here is the first stanza:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


Because epitaph poems are very short, the language has to be concise. They are written in memory of a deceased person and are typically inscriptions found on gravestones or memorial plaques. They can encompass a range of emotions, from solemn and reflective to humorous or uplifting.

W. H. Auden wrote this epitaph in memory of W. B. Yeats:

Earth, receive an honored guest,

William Yeats is laid to rest.

Let the Irish vessel lie

Emptied of its poetry.

Narrative Poetry

Narrative poetry is a genre of poetry that tells a story or recounts a sequence of events. It uses poetic language and techniques to convey a plot, characters, and a sense of progression. Narrative poems often have a clear beginning, middle, and end, similar to traditional storytelling, and may explore themes of love, adventure, mythology, moral principles, or historical events.

The most common types of poems in this group are the epic, allegory, and ballad. Let’s have a closer look.


Possibly the hardest form of poetry to read, an allegory tells a story with hidden meanings. Its characters, events, and settings represent something else that is not verbally specified in the text. The purpose of these poems is to teach a moral lesson or convey deeper truths through symbols and metaphors. They are like a puzzle where you have to look beyond the surface to uncover the intended message of the poem.

These poems tend to employ rich imagery, figurative language, and metaphors to enhance their allegorical nature.

At the beginning of William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell we find these two stanzas:

Once meek, and in a perilous path,

The just man kept his course along

The vale of death.

Roses are planted where thorns grow,

And on the barren heath

Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted:

And a river and a spring

On every cliff and tomb;

And on the bleached bones

Red clay brought forth.

This poem represents a transformation from suffering or difficulty to wisdom or enlightenment or, given the remainder of the book’s message, probably the journey from being repressed to living out one’s wishes and desires.


Often written in book form, an epic is a long narrative poem that tells heroic stories or describes grand adventures. It often follows a larger-than-life protagonist who embarks on a remarkable journey or faces extraordinary challenges. They are known for their elevated language, epic similes, and grand scale.

They’re filled with heroic deeds, mythical creatures, and epic battles, and are often about legendary heroes and their quests, exploring themes of honor, bravery, and the human condition.

John Milton’s Paradise Lost, for example, draws on biblical themes and epic poetic storytelling to explore the Fall of Man, the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan, the consequences of disobedience, free will, redemption, and the struggle between temptation and virtue. It doesn’t get any more epic than that.


Through a series of verses, a ballad poem tells a story. It often has a musical quality and is designed to be sung or recited. Ballads typically focus on themes of love, adventure, tragedy, or folklore, and they often have a regular rhyme scheme and a simple, repetitive structure.

They were traditionally passed down orally through generations, preserving stories and legends in a captivating and memorable way.

“The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes explores themes of loyalty, passion, betrayal, and the consequences of pursuing a dangerous life of adventure. It tells the tragic story of a daring highwayman, a robber on horseback, who is in love with Bess, the innkeeper’s daughter.

When the highwayman is betrayed to the authorities by a jealous stableman, Bess warns him but has to sacrifice her life in the process. He is then killed in an unsuccessful attempt at revenge, and the ghosts of the two lovers meet in the afterlife, riding together eternally on the highway.

Metrical Romance

The narrative poetry known as Metrical romance presents stories of chivalry, love, adventure, or tragedy. They often follow a knight or hero on a quest.

Tristan and Iseult is a story that has been told in numerous forms, in poems, operas, plays, novels and even movies. It recounts the forbidden love between Tristan, a knight, and Iseult, the Irish princess that is married to his uncle.

In the long Matthew Arnold poem, Tristram misses his Irish Iseult so much that he marries another woman called Iseult, whom he does not love. While he is on his deathbed, his Irish Iseult arrives, gives him a final kiss, and promises never to leave his side. She subsequently dies with him while his loyal wife looks on.

Pastoral Poetry

Pastoral poetry is a genre that idealizes rural life and the beauty of nature. It depicts a romanticized and peaceful natural setting, often populated by shepherds, shepherdesses, and other pastoral figures. It honors nature, which provides a setting for the ideas of love, beauty, and simplicity.

Rural life is often contrasted with urban existence as free from complexities and challenges. These poems evoke a sense of nostalgia and harmony with the natural world. They usually contain imagery and vivid descriptions of landscapes.

We will describe the most common types below.

Basic Pastoral Poetry

This is the most basic form of this genre that includes most of the elements mentioned above. The beauty of nature, a romanticized depiction of rural life, and an appeal to simplicity.

In Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”, the shepherd invites his love to come and live with him, and tells a story about how good it will be. Look at the first two stanzas:

Come live with me, and be my love;

And we will all the pleasures prove

That hills and valleys, dales and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks

By shallow rivers to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.


Often the shortest type in this category, eclogues are short pastoral poems often written in dialogue form, featuring shepherds or landowners engaging in conversations about love, nature, and social issues.

Virgil’s “Eclogue 1”, for example, is a conversation between two people, one of whom has been forced off his land. He tells of his meeting with a god in Rome who answered his plea and allowed him to keep his land. He wishes his interlocutor could spend a night there with him.

It ends with:

Yet you might have rested here with me tonight

on green leaves: we have ripe apples,

soft chestnuts, and a wealth of firm cheeses:

and now the distant cottage roofs show smoke

and longer shadows fall from the high hills.

Georgic Poetry

This is where poetry meets practicality. Georgic poetry focuses on natural or rural themes, offering practical advice on farming, gardening, and agricultural pursuits.

Virgil wrote this introduction to his Georgics:

What makes the cornfield smile; beneath what star

Maecenas, it is meet to turn the sod

Or marry elm with vine; how tend the steer;

What pains for cattle-keeping, or what proof

Of patient trial serves for thrifty bees; —

Such are my themes.

Pastoral Elegy

Pastoral elegies combine the pastoral setting with themes of mourning and loss, often lamenting the death of a loved one.

John Milton’s “Lycidas” mourns his friend, Edward King, who died when his ship was wrecked. It starts with:

Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more

Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,

I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,

And with forc’d fingers rude

Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.

Bitter constraint and sad occasion dear

Compels me to disturb your season due;

For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,

Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.

Dramatic Poetry

Dramatic poetry is a genre that mimics the conventions of theater or dramatic performance through dialogue or monologue.

It is driven either by monologues or by dialogue between characters, providing insights into their thoughts, feelings, and interactions. The poet may present multiple perspectives through the voices of different characters.

There is often a narrative or plot that unfolds through the dialogue and actions of the characters. It can depict conflicts, resolutions, and other dramatic events.


Often very emotional in nature, monologue poems feature a solitary speaker who delivers an extended speech or narrative, usually revealing their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. The character addresses their monologue to someone else.

“My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning is a monologue poem in which the Duke of Ferrara reveals his thoughts and feelings about his deceased wife as he shows a portrait of her to a visitor, subtly conveying his possessiveness and controlling nature.

It begins:

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,

Looking as if she were alive. I call

That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands

Worked busily a day, and there she stands.


Soliloquy poems are also written as monologues, but they focus on the character’s self-reflection and introspection. It is personal and confidential, and not shared with another character.

When asking “To be or not to be,” Shakespeare’s Hamlet runs through some metaphors to compare the suffering and unfairness of life and death to determine which is worse.

Light and Satirical Poetry

As a category, light and satirical poetry is characterized by its playful, amusing, and often humorous approach, aiming to entertain and bring a smile to readers’ faces.

These types of poems use devices like witty wordplay, comical situations, irony, ridicule, and satire to make fun of someone or something.

Let’s examine different forms of this genre.

Satirical Poetry

Poems that use irony, wit, humor, or ridicule to criticize vices or follies in individuals, society, or institutions are what we call satirical poetry. It employs satire as a means of social commentary, often employing exaggeration or absurdity to highlight and critique flaws. They have no structural rules.

The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll humorously follows a group of characters in search of an elusive, non-existent thing called a “Snark.” It satirizes various aspects of society and human behavior while showcasing Carroll’s whimsical wordplay.

While satirical poetry is usually humorous, it can also take on serious subjects, as in The Masque of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley. This poem offers a satirical critique of the British government and its oppressive measures during the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. Here is an extract:

I met Murder on the way –

He had a mask like Castlereagh –

Very smooth he looked, yet grim;

Seven blood-hounds followed him:

All were fat; and well they might

Be in admirable plight,

For one by one, and two by two,

He tossed the human hearts to chew

Which from his wide cloak he drew.


An epigram poem is a concise and witty statement that expresses a clever or insightful idea. It aims to convey a sharp or satirical observation, often with a humorous or ironic twist.

American poet Ogden Nash wrote “Ice Breaking”, which is one of the most famous ones:


Is dandy,

But liquor

Is quicker.


Short, humorous poems with a light-hearted, often nonsensical tone are called limericks. They consist of five lines with an AABBA rhyme scheme, where the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other. They often include wordplay, clever twists, or surprise endings.

British poet Edward Lear wrote many of them, including this classic:

There was an Old Man with a beard

Who said, “It is just as I feared!

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard!”


Clerihews are four-line poems that focus on a person or character, typically with humorous and light-hearted observations. They often have an AABB rhyme scheme and are known for their witty and satirical tone.

Here, their inventor, Edmund Clerihew Bentley, pretends that the chemist Sir Humphrey Davy is upset about the fact that gravy contains so much sodium, the very element that Davy discovered.

Sir Humphrey Davy

Abominated gravy.

He lived in the odium

Of having discovered Sodium.

Referential Poetry

Referential poems use the arrangement of their words to refer to something else, such as a person, poem, or object, usually to pay tribute.

There are two common types that we will describe below.

Acrostic poems

In acrostic poems, the first letter (or sometimes other specific letters) of each line, when read vertically from top to bottom, spell out a word, name, or phrase. The selected word or phrase is usually related to the subject or theme of the poem, but can also refer to something else. The rest of the structure is up to the poet.

“A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky” appears at the end of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. The first letter of each line spells out the name of the real-life Alice, Alice Pleasance Liddell. The “Alice” portion goes like this:

A boat beneath a sunny sky,

Lingering onward dreamily

In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,

Eager eye and willing ear,

Golden Shovel Poems

Created by American poet Terrance Hayes, golden shovel poems pay homage to a chosen line or lines from an existing poem. This is the newest poetic form on this list.

A line or lines from an existing poem serve as the “spine” of the new poem. Each word in the selected line is then used as the last word in each line of the new poem, in order. The poet then writes new lines that build upon or respond to the selected line.

“The Golden Shovel” by Terrance Hayes is the original Golden shovel poem that inspired the form itself. It uses Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool” as the source material, with each word from Brooks’ poem serving as the last word in each line of Hayes’ poem. You can see the “We Real Cool” in the first three lines:

When I am so small Da’s sock covers my arm, we

cruise at twilight until we find the place the real

men lean, bloodshot and translucent with cool.

Experimental Poetry

A broad poetic category known as experimental poetry pushes the boundaries of traditional poetic conventions. It encompasses various innovative and unconventional approaches, often challenging conventional forms, structures, language usage, and thematic exploration.

Free Verse

Poetry that does not adhere to the traditional rules of meter, rhyme, or specific poetic forms is known as free verse. It is characterized by its freedom from strict structure, allowing poets to experiment with line breaks, rhythm, and language without the constraints of predetermined patterns.

“Howl” by Allen Ginsberg, for example, uses 112 non-rhyming paragraph-like lines to describe scenes from the beat generation, with hardly any punctuation except for commas. Here is an extract:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

Prose Poems

Prose poems combine the elements of poetry and prose. Unlike traditional poems, which use line breaks and stanzas, they are written in prose form, with sentences and paragraphs that flow without the typical line breaks associated with poetry. The poets do use other poetic elements, however, like alliteration, metaphor, metered structure, and soft rhyming. It originated in 19th-century France.

Look at the natural flow of this excerpt from “Spring Day” by Amy Lowell:

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 bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.

Erasure Poems

Created by selectively erasing or blacking out words from an existing text, erasure poems reveal a new composition. The poet takes an existing source text, such as a newspaper article, book page, or even a poem, and removes or obscures certain words to create a new poetic work. The poem can be written with lines or stanzas, or it can be left on the original text.

Austin Kleon has written a whole book of surprisingly deep poems by crossing out bits of newspaper columns. He appropriately called it Newspaper Blackout.

Echo Verse

Echo verse is a poetic form that emphasizes repetition within the structure of the poem. It deliberately repeats certain words, phrases, or sounds at specific intervals throughout the poem, creating a rhythmic and musical effect.

In a haunting poem called “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe, the phrases “Annabel Lee” and “the sea” are repeated throughout, emphasizing the speaker’s undying love for his dead beloved. It begins:

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

I and my Annabel Lee—

Concrete Poetry

In concrete poetry, the visual presentation of the text on the page is an integral part of the poem’s meaning and expression. The arrangement of words, letters, and symbols on the page forms a visual representation that complements or enhances the content of the poem.

“The Mouse’s Tale” by Lewis Carroll appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It takes the form of a long, winding, and visually intricate tail (pun intended) that visually depicts the narrative of a mouse’s adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will address common questions about poetry, its definitions, and its characteristics.

What are the Main Types of Poetry?

The most important and enduring types of poetry include the sonnet, haiku, ballad, ode, elegy, limerick, epic, and free verse, each with its own unique characteristics.

Poetry vs. Poem: What’s the Difference?

Poetry refers to the broad category of literary art characterized by the use of imaginative and rhythmic language to evoke emotions, express ideas, and explore the human condition. A poem, on the other hand, is a specific piece of writing that embodies the art form of poetry. In other words, poetry is the artistic category, while a poem is a specific example of it in practice. Like a garden is made up of many flowers, poetry is made up of many poems.

Does Poetry Have to Rhyme?

No, poetry does not have to rhyme. While rhyming is a common poetic technique, it is not a requirement for a piece of writing to be considered poetry. Free verse, for example, is a form of poetry that does not rely on rhyme.

What is a Poem That Doesn’t Rhyme Called?

A poem that doesn’t rhyme is called “free verse”, a type of poetry that has no formal rules and constraints. It allows poets greater freedom and flexibility in terms of structure, line breaks, and rhythm. Instead of relying on rhyme, free verse emphasizes other poetic elements such as imagery, symbolism, and figurative language.

Are Poetry Books Popular?

There is a strong and dedicated readership for poetry, and an increasing number of people now read it. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, 11.7% of American adults read poetry, the highest numbers since they started their surveys.

What Makes Good Poetry?

Good poetry evokes strong emotions, uses descriptive and imaginative language, explores profound ideas or themes, is written in concise style, and pays attention to the musicality and rhythm of words.

Is Poetry a Form of Art?

Yes, poetry is a form of art, celebrated for its creative and imaginative use of language and its ability to capture the essence of human experiences in a condensed and memorable way.

Final Thoughts

Exploring the diverse world of poetry reveals a rich tapestry of forms and styles that transcend all boundaries. Whether it’s the rhythmic elegance of a sonnet or the visual intricacy of concrete poetry, these diverse forms remind us that poetry is a vibrant and ever-evolving art form that continues to inspire and captivate readers across generations.

So, let these examples be an invitation to explore, experiment, and embrace the infinite world of poetic expression.

Craft of Writing Quiz (Hard)

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