Poetry Explained

What You Need To Know

For more than four thousand years now, human beings have enjoyed poetry. This form of literature shares ideas, entertains, expresses emotions, and creates imagery. From the days of William Shakespeare to Maya Angelou to Maggie Nelson and other contemporary poets, the art lives on and is recited from one generation to the next.

Form and Structure

Poems take different forms with some featuring rhyming lines and meter. They can also be freeform with no notable structure. Whichever the form, a poem has a stanza (which is a cluster of lines with the same thoughts) as the building block. Stanzas are categorized based on the number of lines.

The structure of a poem on a page varies and can be indented or lengthened with narrow columns and extra space in between words.


Rhyme and Meter

Rhyme is the most common element in poetry. Meter is also important as it imposes a given length on a line of poetry. When rhyme and meter are observed, a poem has a great flow to it when read out loud. Poets used different rhyme schemes based on what they need to achieve. Some schemes include slant rhymes, eye rhymes, internal rhymes, and identical rhymes among others. Common poems contain shared consonants or vowel sounds.

Common Forms of Poetry

  1. Blank Verse – This is a poem with a precise meter and one that doesn’t rhyme.
  2. Rhymed Verse – The scheme of these poems varies but they all rhyme.
  3. Free Verse – This is a poem with no rhyme scheme, meter pattern, or any defined structure.
  4. Lyric Poem – Lyrics describe feelings and emotions.
  5. Ballad – This is a narrative that is either poetic or musical. The poem follows a pattern of rhymed quatrains.
  6. Soliloquy – A soliloquy expresses inner thoughts where the writer talks to themselves.
  7. Epics – An epic poem is a lengthy and narrative work of poetry that details adventures from a long time ago.
  8. Narrative Poetry – This is almost the same as an epic as it also tells a story.
  9. Haiku – This is a Japanese poem with three lines. Its first line has five syllables, the second has seven, and the third has five.
  10. Villanelle – Villanelles are a variation of the pastoral. They are 19-line poems with well-defined internal rhyme scheme. The poems describe obsessions and such like intense matters.
  11. Pastoral Poem – This is a poem on the natural life, landscapes, and rural life. Most of these poems have their origins from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
  12. Limerick – This is a single-stanza five-lined poem with an AABBA rhyme scheme. The subject should be short, pitchy, and descriptive.
  13. Sonnet – This is a 14-line poem that expresses love. These poems have internal rhyme in between their lines.
  14. Elegies – Elegies are poems on death or loss. The theme on these poems is loss, mourning, and reflection. Sometimes, the poems can be on redemption and consolation.
  15. Ode – Odes are tributes to a subject dead or alive.

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