Curious about the types of poems every writer should know?

Poetry is one of the world’s oldest and most loved and celebrated forms of art. Its world is vast and diverse and is a powerful means to express your feelings/thoughts in the most potent way possible. Though it can seem overwhelming, it also means there are a great many types of poetry that suit each person to his/her unique style and the poems which every writer should know. Whether you desire to specialize in poetry or looking out to just improve your skills to vent your thoughts better, it is ideal to join a Creative Writing Course that polishes your skills and provides you with a suitable opportunity to showcase your talent to the world.

15 Types of Poems every Writer should know

Although most often poetry is a means to convey your thoughts through lyrical word form that has a meter and rhyming words, it can also be in a free form without any structure or format. Every writer should know and recognize good poetry and be able to write it. Thus, to help you understand and get acquainted with poetry better, we are providing you with the 15 types of poems every writer should know. Do savor them and see if it sparks any of your creative nerves.

Types of Rhyming poems every writer should know

 1.  Limerick

Limericks are typically light-hearted and funny five-line poems. However, their meter, form, and rhyme scheme are not to be taken lightly.

The First works of Limericks in English dates from about 1820 and later found themselves among one of the most indulged forms of poems every writer should know

To be called a limerick, the poem should have five lines, of which the first two lines mostly have 7-10 syllables, the next two usually have 5-7 syllables and the last line with probably 7-10 syllables. Usually, the last line has humor with a sudden reversal, twisted wordplay, or rhyme.

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 It has an AABBA rhyming pattern. Its recitation is done in style by accentuating every other word starting with the second one.

Example —

2. Sonnet

The Sonnet was discovered by the thirteenth-century Sicilian poet Giacomo da Lentini, who designed this form as a form to express courtly love

Sonnet literally means a “little song, “which is a 14-line poem, with a variable rhyme pattern. It typically has 10 syllables per line and is a type of poem every writer should know.

There are mainly two types of sonnets the Petrarchan and the Shakespearean, that are named after the poets who made these types famous

While Petrarchan sonnets have two stanzas with a total of 14 lines and a rhyme scheme ABBA, ABBA, CDECDE, Shakespearean sonnets have three- “four-line “stanzas that are followed by a couplet. Its standard rhyme scheme is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG.  

Sonnet’s rhyming pattern is called its form. An ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG sonnet has every alternate rhyme in the first three stanzas, and then comes the final couplet rhyme.

Example —

3. Ballad

Ballad is French lyrical poetry that finds its origin in the 14 and 15th centuries by minstrels. It typically has rhymed quatrains or four lines that are grouped together.

Ballads generally have an ABAB or ABCB rhyme scheme and this form is often found in folk ballad poetry.

Old ballads are more structured than modern ballads and usually came in rhymed quatrains that had alternating four-stress and three-stress lines. Modern doesn’t always necessarily rhyme.

Bob Dylan is said to be the modern example of a ballad writer. His works like “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” and Hurricane though originally written as songs, tell stories in verse. These are some of the best examples of modern ballad poems every writer should know

Example —

 4. Villanelle

This is a highly specific structured form of a poem every writer should know. It was invented by the poet Jean Passerat in the 17th century and has its root in France. However, in English, there are some well-known villanelle poets like Oscar Wilde, Austin Dobson, and Edwin Arlington Robinson

Villanelle has 19 lines, that are divided into 5 stanzas comprising 3 lines each, ending up in one closing stanza made up of 4 lines. The rhyme sequence in Villanelles is ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABAA. However, some lines repeat like line 1 in lines 6, 12, and 18 and also line 3 in lines 9, 15, and 19.

At first sight, Villanelle may appear overwhelming because of all the rhyming, but it becomes easy when you break it down.

Example —

5. Haiku

Haiku originated in Japan and is a type of poem that does not rhyme. This type of poetry typically has three lines and the rule used in Haiku is there are a specific number of syllables that has to be used in each of its three lines. It should have 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and finally 5 syllables in the third line. This form enriched the literary world and are the poems every writer should know

While translating to other languages, the 5-7-5 syllable structure in Haiku poetry often gets lost and loses its authenticity but it still provides you with vivid images and makes it worth knowing.

Example —

 6.  Epigram

Epigrams originated from the Greek word epigramma, which means “inscription,” or “to inscribe.

They are typically short and sweet and usually Whitty often in word form and can be a couplet or quatrain. It is more of a short memorable statement that is both interesting and has some satirical value.

 It has no rules in structure, rhyme, and meter. Nonetheless, its main aim is to get people thinking or sometimes even laughing.

Alexander Pope, John Donne, William Shakespeare, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are some of the poets who popularised Epigrams

Example —

7. Epitaph

An epitaph is much like an elegy, but only it is short. They commonly appear on gravestones; however, they can also be humorous. There are no specific rules or rhyme schemes for epitaphs.

In brief, it is a form of the poem used mainly while praising the deceased person. Epitaphs can impart wisdom, brief up life’s experiences, and can also have a strong last line as a punch line and are the poems every writer should know.

Example —

8. Ode

Ode is said to be named after an ancient Greek poet Pindar. Odes were particularly performed to music and it is derived from the Greek word oide meaning “to sing or chant.”

Ode can be said as an elaborately structured poem and is most often used to praise/ celebrate a person, thing, place, or idea. It expresses emotions using lyrical variable stanzas with irregular rhyme patterns. However, the modern ode form has developed to include a variety of styles and forms. Although many odes rhyme, it is not necessary all should do.

It comprises three triads

Strophe– forms the first few lines

Antistrophe– the next few lines after the strophe with a thematic to counterbalance it

Epode- the final stanza

Example —

9. Elegy

Elegy finds its origin in the ancient Greek tradition of “elegieia”. Though Elegy is a type of poem which typically has a theme of mourning and loss, it can also lay emphasis on redemption and consolation.

There are no strict parameters to adhere to while writing elegies and are generally written in quatrains with an ABAB rhyme scheme

Modern elegies have evolved a lot from the original couplets to the more varied choices. Although most elegies do rhyme, it is not compulsory or a rule. And on a brighter note, though elegies are almost always about sounding sad, they often do end up on a hopeful note.

Example —

 10. Free verse

A Free Verse also known as vers libre, is a type of poem that doesn’t rely on any specific form, meter, or rhyme scheme. Nonetheless, it communicates powerful thoughts and ideas.  Here the poem takes a structure through the interplay of word choice and sound.

Free verse is mainly known through the short lines and stanzas that are used to write it. Free verse is a type of poem every writer should know, it shares the quality of prose using straightforward language and styling of sentences that strengthen poetic ideas.

Example —

11. Blank Verse

Blank verse is popular with both old and contemporary writers and is a type of unrhymed poem every writer should know. However, it has a precise meter, most probably iambic pentameter, the same as a sonnet. Though it does not rhyme as a sonnet does.

It can be said that Blank verse is a poem that finds the middle ground, they fall between structured poems that rhyme and free verse poems that follow no set rules.

The blank verse can be found in verse plays by Shakespeare, and also in long poems like Milton’s Paradise Lost, and not to be left out in short romantic poems. Since this form of poetry focuses on rhythm above all, it is a great form to follow if you want to stress more on meter and meaning.

Example —

12. Epic Poem

Epic poetry is the name used to define poems that are lengthy, and elaborate verses that most probably recount extraordinary feats from the past. Most importantly it shows the hero’s journey and gives detailed information about his feats and adventures.

It is also called a heroic poem and is the oldest form of a poem every writer should know. They are most probably hero-centric and describe the character’s importance in the culture at that time. However, even though they share similar writing styles and formats, epic poems differ from culture to culture.

Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, Virgil’s The Aeneid, and the Indian Mahabharata are some of the best examples of Epic Poems.

This type of poem typically has long stanzas without any strict rules and absence of rhyme schemes

Example —

  13. Narrative poem

Similar to that an Epic poem, a narrative poem tells a story that has character, plot, conflict, and solution. However, they are not long or elaborate and most probably not as heroic. To sum up it can be said that this type of poem romanticizes your imagination by combining the art of storytelling with the technicalities of poetry writing.

It is the oldest form of a poem every writer should know. Long before, storytellers narrated their stories in verse, and this has been in practice since 2,100 B.C. 

Think Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere are some of the Epic works that display narrative poem examples. In modern times, this form of poetry has evolved to accommodate the storytelling nature of the poets to meet their requirements.

The advantage of this form of poetry is, that by maintaining the patterns of rhyme and syllabic stress, the narrator knows which line comes next without necessarily maintaining the constraints of meter and rhyme scene.

Example —

14. Pastoral poem

Pastoral poetry is the link between the natural world and the poet’s (human race) relationship with it. This form of poetic genre finds its root in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The English word Pastoral is derived from the Latin word ‘pastoralis,’ which described things related to shepherds.

“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” (1599) and Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” (1600) are some of the finest examples of this form of poetry.

This form of poem mainly featured rural life and the countryside. Mainly Urban poets used pastoral poetry to depict rural life as a fantasy and romanticized the society of shepherds who were from the complexities of urban life.

Example —

 15.  Concrete poems

Concrete poems are basically free-verse poems that are fabricated to say something of what the poem is about or its meaning at a first glance and are the poems every writer should know.

They are also called shape poems, which use some type of visual presentation to tick the reader’s imagination and enhance the effect of the poem. In this form of the poem, the physical shape of the poem is very significant since it takes a symbolic shape on the page which is part of the poem itself.

Example —

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Poetry is one such beautiful art that has so many facets and forms, it can match each and every one’s taste and mood. From telling a story, conveying a meaning, teaching you philosophy and way of life, or just entertaining you, poetry can do anything and everything. Here in this article, we have done our best to briefly put together 15 of the many types of poems every writer should know. Understanding these types and differentiating them not only helps you learn them better; it also encourages your creative mind to write one yourself. We hope the article helped you pick the type of poem closest to your heart and also inspired you to bring out the poet in you and create your own style. 

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1. What does the term Alliteration mean in the world of Poetry?

It is an art of repeating initial letter sounds to attract people’s attention. In poetry, it adds focus, harmony, and rhythm. It is also called initial rhyme or head rhyme. Most Poets, advertisers, and headline writers use it regularly and predominantl

2. What does Consonance in Poetry mean?

 Consonance is mainly defined as the repetition of the same consonant sounds in a line. It is mainly used because of the sounds consonant makes and not necessarily the letter individually

 3.  Is it possible for a poem to have more than one type?

Yes, it is very much possible. For example, though Sonnet is mainly considered to be a type of rhyming verse, however, it can also be a lyrical poem. 

4.    What is Meter in Poetry?

Meter is defined as a pattern of set syllables that are mainly long-sounding and un-stressed syllables which are short-sounding 

5.    State the difference between Blank Verse and Free Verse Poetry?

Free verse is not bound by rules regarding meter or rhyme, while Blank verse follows a strong set pattern.

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