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Types of Poetry. Poem Forms. Fixed Form: a poem that may be categorized by the pattern of its lines, meter, rhythm, or stanzas; a style of poetry that has set rules.

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poem forms
Poem Forms
  • Fixed Form: a poem that may be categorized by the pattern of its lines, meter, rhythm, or stanzas; a style of poetry that has set rules.
  • Free Form: a poem that has neither regular rhyme nor regular meter. Free verse often uses cadences rather than uniform metrical feet.
lyric poetry
Lyric Poetry
  • Usually written in first person point of view, lyric poems portray the poet’s own feelings, states of mind, ideas, and perceptions.
  • Does not tell a story, and is often musical.
narrative poetry
Narrative Poetry
  • A poem that tells a story.
  • Usually longer than the lyric styles of poetry because the poet needs to establish characters and a plot.
  • The word sonnet means “a little sound or song.”
  • A sonnet is a highly-structured 14 line poem that explores deeply felt issues such as the fleeting nature of love and the aching questions or mortality.
  • A traditional sonnet has 14 lines, each of which is written in iambic pentameter.
  • Sonnets have a set rhyme scheme based on the last words in each line.
  • A Shakespearean sonnet ends in a couplet and follows this rhyme scheme:
sonnet example
Sonnet Example

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

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

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,

Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

  • A narrative poem, often of folk origin and intended to be sung, consisting of simple stanzas and usually having a refrain.
    • Refrain: a line or set of lines that repeat at regular intervals in other stanzas or sections of the same poem.
ballad example
Ballad Example

"Let It Be“ by The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness

She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people

Living in the world agree

There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted

There is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Yeah there will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Ah let it be, yeah let it be

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy

There is still a light that shines on me

Shine on until tomorrow, let it be

I wake up to the sound of music,

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Yeah let it be, let it be

Let it be, yeah let it be

Oh there will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Let it be, yeah let it be

Oh there will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be

Ah let it be, yeah let it be

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

  • A 19 line poem that only uses 2 rhymes, while also repeating 2 lines throughout the poem.
  • The first 5 stanzas are triplets, and the last stanza is a quatrain (4 line stanza) with the following rhyme scheme:
    • aba abaabaabaabaabaa
villanelle example
Villanelle Example

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 theyDo not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how brightTheir frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sightBlind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  • An elaborate verse form of Italian origin, normally unrhymed, consisting of 6 stanzas of 6 lines each and a concluding tercet.
    • Tercet: 3 line stanza
  • The final word of each line in the first stanza is repeated in a different order in each of the remaining 5 stanzas and also in the concluding tercet.
sestina example
Sestina Example


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.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears

and the rain that beats on the roof of the house

were both foretold by the almanac,

but only known to a grandmother.

The iron kettle sings on the stove.

She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It's time for tea now; but the child

is watching the teakettle's small hard tears

dance like mad on the hot black stove,

the way the rain must dance on the house.

Tidying up, the old grandmother

hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac

hovers half open above the child,

hovers above the old grandmother

and her teacup full of dark brown tears.

She shivers and says she thinks the house

feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.

I know what I know, says the almanac.

With crayons the child draws a rigid house

and a winding pathway. Then the child

puts in a man with buttons like tears

and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother

busies herself about the stove,

the little moons fall down like tears

from between the pages of the almanac

into the flower bed the child

has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.

The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove

and the child draws another inscrutable house.

Elizabeth Bishop

  • Cinquain is a short, usually unrhymed poem consisting of 22 syllables distributed as 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, in 5 lines.
    • Line 1: Noun
    • Line 2: Description of Noun
    • Line 3: Action
    • Line 4: Feeling or Effect
    • Line 5: Synonym of the initial Noun
cinquain example
Cinquain Example


Written stories

Reading all day and night

Transported to a whole new world


  • A haiku is a simple poem typically about nature or scenery, which uses vivid imagery.
  • A haiku has 3 lines and 17 syllables:
    • Line 1: 5 syllables
    • Line 2: 7 syllables
    • Line 3: 5 syllables
haiku example
Haiku Example

An old silent pond...A frog jumps into the pond,splash! Silence again.

  • A 7 line poem that is in the shape of a diamond.
    • Line 1: Noun or subject
    • Line 2: Two adjectives describing the first noun/subject
    • Line 3: Three –ing words describing the first noun/subject
    • Line 4: Four words: two about the first noun/subject, two about the antonym or synonym
    • Line 5: Three –ing words about the antonym or synonym
    • Line 6: Two adjectives describing the antonym or synonym
    • Line 7: Antonym or synonym for the subject
diamante example
Diamante Example


Humid, damp

Refreshing, dripping, splattering

Wet, slippery, cold, slushy

Sliding, melting, freezing

Frigid, icy


  • A short poem, saying or other message on a gravestone in memory of a deceased person.
  • An epitaph usually has rhyming lines.
epitaph example
Epitaph Example

Olivia Susan Clemens (1866-1890)

[Daughter of Mark Twain]

Warm summer sun, shine kindly here;

Warm southern wind, blow softly here;

Green sod above, lie light, lie light --

Good-night, dear heart, good-night, good-night.

  • Acrostic Poetry is where the first letter of each line spells a word, usually using the same words as in the title
acrostic example
Acrostic Example

Hockey is my favorite sport

On the ice or street

Cool and fun

Keep on playing

Exercise and stronger

You should try

  • Concrete poetry uses word arrangement, typeface, color, or other visual effects to complement or dramatize the meaning of the words used.
concrete example
Concrete Example
  • Bird # 3 by Don J. Carlson

Poe's                  raven told            him nothing nevermore                  and Vincent's circling                    crows were a threat to destroy                      sunlight. Now I saw a bird, black with a yellow                        beak, orange rubber legs                           pecking to kill the                             lawn, storm bird                              hates with claw,                                  evil beak,                                        s                                        u                                        n                                    and eye

  • A short, humorous poem consisting of 5 anapestic lines.
  • Lines 1, 2, and 5 of a limerick have 7 to 10 syllables and rhyme with one another.
  • Lines 3 and 4 have 5 to 7 syllables and also rhyme with each other.
limerick example
Limerick Example

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!

dramatic monologue
Dramatic Monologue
  • A poem in which a single speaker who is not the poet utters the entire poem at a critical moment.
  • The speaker has a listener within the poem, but we too are his or her listener, and we learn about the speaker’s character from what the speaker says.
  • In fact, the speaker may reveal (unintentionally) certain aspects of his/her character.
dramatic monologue example
Dramatic Monologue Example

“My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning

That's my last duchess painted on the wall,Looking as if she were alive. I callThat piece a wonder, now: FràPandolf's handsWorked busily a day, and there she stands.Will't please you sit and look at her? I said"FràPandolf" by design, for never readStrangers like you that pictured countenance,The depth and passion of its earnest glance,But to myself they turned (since none puts byThe curtain I have drawn for you, but I)And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,How such a glance came there; so, not the firstAre you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas notHer husband's presence only, called that spotOf joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhapsFràPandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps"Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint"Must never hope to reproduce the faint"Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff

Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enoughFor calling up that spot of joy. She had A heart how shall I say? too soon made glad,Too easily impressed; she liked whate'erShe looked on, and her looks went everywhere.Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast,The dropping of the daylight in the West,The bough of cherries some officious foolBroke in the orchard for her, the white muleShe rode with round the terrace all and eachWould draw from her alike the approving speech,Or blush, at least. She thanked men good! but thankedSomehow I know not how as if she rankedMy gift of a nine-hundred-years-old nameWith anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blameThis sort of trifling? Even had you skillIn speech which I have not to make your will


Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this"Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,"Or there exceed the mark" and if she letHerself be lessoned so, nor plainly setHer wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse,E'en then would be some stooping; and I chooseNever to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,Whene'er I passed her; but who passed withoutMuch the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;Then all smiles stopped together. There she standsAs if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meetThe company below, then. I repeat,The Count your master's known munificenceIs ample warrant that no just pretenseOf mine for dowry will be disallowed;Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowedAt starting, is my object. Nay we'll goTogether down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

  • A lyric poem of moderate length, with a serious subject, elevated style, and an elaborate stanza pattern.
  • The ode often praises people, the arts of music and poetry, natural scenes, or abstract concepts.
ode example
Ode Example

Ode to Aphrodite - Sappho (c. 630-570 B.C.) 

Deathless Aphrodite, throned in flowers,

Daughter of Zeus, O terrible enchantress,

With this sorrow, with this anguish, break my spirit

Lady, not longer! 

Hear anew the voice! O hear and listen!

Come, as in that island dawn thou camest,

Billowing in thy yoked car to Sappho

Forth from thy father's

Golden house in pity! ...

  • A mournful and thoughtful poem lamenting the death of a person
elegy example
Elegy Example

“O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman

“O CAPTAIN! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:But O heart! Heart! Heart!O the bleeding drops of red,Where on the deck my Captain lies,Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills; 10For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding;For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;Here Captain! Dear father!This arm beneath your head;It is some dream that on the deck,You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!But I, with mournful tread,Walk the deck my Captain lies,Fallen cold and dead.”

  • An epic is a long story told in verse which tells the great deeds of a hero
  • An example is The Odyssey
haikus activity
Haikus Activity
  • In order to practice writing original poetry, you will compose two haikus. Follow the steps below in order to complete this assignment:
  • Complete the Pleasant vs. Unpleasant Imagery Chart.
  • Select one of the categories from the chart and write two haikus based on both sides of the category; in other words, one haiku based on a pleasant image and another haiku based on an unpleasant image.
  • Each haiku must develop a specific image by using imagery and meet the criteria for a traditional haiku.
  • For up to 10 extra points, you may enhance how each haiku is based on either a “pleasant” or an “unpleasant” image through a colorful and creative display.