An abecedarian is an alphabetic acrostic. Rather than spelling out the title, each line begins with a word beginning with the next successive line in the alphabet. For example, if the first line begins with "A" then the second line would begin with a word starting with the letter "B."
In an acrostic poem, the first letter of each line in the poem works together to spell a word, usually the title of the poem. It may or may not rhyme.
The aisling (pronounced ashling) was developed in Ireland after the 17th century. Unlike some of the other poetic forms listed, this poem does not have a rhyme scheme. It is identified by the content. The aisling is characterized by the poet reciting the tale of having a vision of Ireland in the form of a woman. She can be old or young, beautiful or haggard. This woman is referred to in the poems as an speirbhean (sky-woman). She mourns the state of the Irish people and predicts a change of fortune. This form is one that grew in popularity due to its political power. It is believed that this form was inspired by the French reverdie.
Alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds at the beginning of words or stressed syllables. For example, the tongue twister "Suzie sells sea shells down by the seashore" uses alliteration. In the modern usage, alliteration is most commonly consonantal.
An anapest is a metrical foot used in types of poetry. It consists of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed (uu/).
An anaphora is the repetition of a word or a phrase as the beginning of successive clauses. For example, Winston Churchill is quoted as saying "we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds...." The phrase "we shall fight" is an example of an anaphora.
An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning of another word. For example, the antonym of smooth is rough.
Assonance is the repetition of an identical or similar vowel sound. The "oo" sound in the sentence "Look at the cookies." is an example of assonance.
The ballad is a short narrative poem with multiple stanzas of four lines each and it usually uses a refrain. The story originates from a wide range of subjects, but it most frequently focuses on folklore or popular legends. Ballads are usually suitable for singing and are generally written with the last words of the second and fourth lines rhyming.
The ballade is a twenty-line French form relying on the foundation of three stanzas, an envoi, and usually an apostrophe. It must use the rhyme scheme of ababbcc dedeeff ghghii.
The blank verse style of Poetry is written in iambic pentameter; its main characteristic is its end-stopped lines. Poems written in blank verse can be as long as the poet wishes provided that each line is written in iambic pentameter.
A calligram is a poem that is designed to form a shape or an object related to the poem topic. For example, a poem about tears could be formatted to look like a teardrop.
The canzona is a short lyric poem of French origin. It gained popularity in the Middle Ages in Italy. The subject of this type of Poetry is often love, nature, or feminine beauty. It consists of stanzas of equal length and closes with a shorter stanza, which is called an envoi. The stanzas vary from seven to twenty lines.
The chant royal is a poetic form that originated in 14th century France; it was introduced to England five centuries later. It consists of five eleven-line stanzas with a rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-d-e and a five-line envoi rhyming d-d-e-d-e or a seven-line envoi c-c-d-d-e-d-e.
The chastukas are a type of traditional Russian poetry. They are written as a single quatrain in trochaic tetrameter with an abab or abcb rhyme scheme. They are amusing, satirical, or ironic and cover topics ranging from bawdy jokes to propaganda. They parallel the limerick, and are usually accompanied by music. The musical refrain between chastukas gives the audience time to laugh without missing the next one. Poets are resourceful and clever when performing them in front of an audience where the contestants mocked each other in competitions similar to today’s hip-hop improvisational battles.
The cinquain is a five-line stanzaic form that varies in rhyme and line length. It is usually written in the ababb rhyme scheme. The form became more specialized in the hands of American poet Adelaide Crapsey. With a nod to the Japanese Poetry styles, she wrote cinquains as short, unrhymed five-line poems as two, four, six, eight, and two syllables per line, respectively.
The clerihew is a biographical and whimsical verse consisting of two couplets and a specific rhyming scheme, usually aabb. The poem names a well-known person /character who is introduced within the first line. The lines are irregular in length.
A cliché is a phrase that is so overused that it has lost its meaning.
Consonance is the repetition of an identical or similar consonance sound. The "b" sound as in the sentence "Blue baby books are usually used for boys" is an example of consonance.
A dactyl is a metrical foot consisting of one accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables, like flattery.
The dedication is not mandatory for any poem. Your poem may be dedicated to a person, a place, or an event.
Diction is the manner which something is expressed; it's the vocabulary choice as well as presentation.
Direct rhyme is rhyme that flows naturally and unforced. Couplets often end in direct rhyme.
The elegy was originally written for elegiac meter. Traditional elegiac meter is a dactylic hexameter followed by pentameter. Unlike a eulogy that must focus on the death of someone, the elegy can also be a poem of sad, reflective, somber tone.
An example of enclosed rhyme is abba. Enclosed rhyme quatrains are used in the first two stanzas of an Italian sonnet.
Lines of Poetry are end-stopped when they terminate with punctuation.
The englyn is a traditional Welsh style of Poetry based on rigid patterns of rhyme. There are eight types of englynion. This style is thought to have derived from the inscriptions on the Roman tombs in Wales. For this reason, we will focus on the englyn milwr (soldier’s englyn). This style consists of three seven-syllable lines that rhyme.
Lines of Poetry are considered enjambed when a single thought continues from one line to the next without punctuation.
As a piece of other poetic forms, the envoi is the name for the short stanza at the close of a poem. It addresses an imagined or actual person; it may also be used to comment on the earlier content of the poem. It also repeats rhyme words or sounds used in the main body of the poem.
An epigram is a short poem that compresses insight and wit into few lines. It often relates a clever twist or a witty statement.
An epistle poem is a poem written in the form of a letter.
An epithalamium is a poem written in celebration of a marriage wishing the couple well.
Figure of speech
A figure of speech is an expression that uses language in a figurative sense, a structured or unusual way, or utilizes sound to achieve an effect. Metaphors and similies are examples of figures of speech.
Foot (plural Feet)
The foot (plural: feet) is the smallest unit of measurement in English poetry. They are made up of combinations of accented and unaccented syllables. They are: Anapest uu/ Dactyl /uu Iamb u/ Pyrrhic uu Spondee // Trochee /u / represents stressed syllables and u represents unstressed syllables. If you have trouble trying to decide what is stressed, consult a dictionary.
The free verse style of Poetry leaves the entire form up to the poet’s discretion. There are no requirements to this form. It may or may not rhyme. It can be as long or as short as the poet wishes.
GrookThis Danish aphoristic poem was created by the Danish poet and scientist Piet Hein. They were published in the daily paper during the Nazi Occupation in the spring of 1940. They were meant to inspire the people to passive resistance against Nazi Occupation in WWII. They are brief and precise with sophisticated rhythms and rhymes. However, the lengths, rhythms, and rhyme scheme are entirely up to the poet.
One of the Japanese forms of poetry, the haiku is a short poem of three lines using five syllables in the first, seven syllables in the second, and five syllables in the third line. It does not rhyme and is nature oriented.
The heroic couplet is an English form that is commonly used in epic and narrative poetry. It is a poem constructed entirely through rhyming couplets written in iambic pentameter. These couplets tend to be closed rather than enjambed. It gained its popularity during the 18th century.
A homonym is a word that has many different meanings in context. For example, a bank can be both "a place where money is kept" and "a piece of land."
A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word, but it has a different meaning and is spelled differently. An example of homophone is "there" and "their."
An iamb is a metrical foot used in types of poetry. It consists of an unstressed syllable and a stressed syllable, such as at-tempt.
Imagery is a literary reference to the five senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste). It is the vocabulary used to create a mental image. In Poetry images are often created by using figures of speech such as similes and metaphors.
Rhyme that is more subtle than direct rhyme and it may be used to echo a sound . It is also called a "half-rhyme" or a "slant rhyme."
An invocation is a prayer, to a muse or deity, which attempts to call forth the aid of the requested being.
The kimo was invented in Israel as a post-haiku poetic form. Like the haiku, the kimo is three lines. The lines are ten, seven, and six syllables respectively.
The kyrielle originated in troubadour poetry. It is derived from the kyrie, a part of many Christian liturgies. It is written in either rhyming couplets or quatrains and uses a variant of the refrain “Lord have mercy” as either the second line of the couplet or the last line of the quatrain. While there are variations on rhyme scheme, it can be aR aR or even aabR ccbR, etc. In the French style, kyrielles were generally written in eight syllable lines. In English, they are usually written in iambic tetrameter.
The limerick is a five-line humorous poem. It is a form of light verse containing five lines, in which the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme (aabba).
The line is the smallest section of a poem; it is one line of text.
A line break is where one line ends and another begins.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares two or more unrelated subjects. For example, my hunger is a barely reigned thunder.
Meter is the pattern established for a verse (such as iambic pentameter). See rhythm.
A monologue is a speech made by one character in a literary work or a dramatic speech made by an actor.
The nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second eight and so forth until the last line closes with one syllable. The subject can be anything the poet wishes and there is no mandatory rhyme scheme.
An octave is an eight-lined stanza.
The ode is a poem honoring a person, a place or a thing. Rhyme scheme is entirely subject to the poet’s wishes.
Onomatopoeia is the use of words to imitate sounds associated with objects such as "quack" or "click."
The ottava rima originated in Rome, Italy as an eight-line poem with a rhyme scheme of abababcc; each line is written in iambic pentameter.
An oxymoron is a rhetorical figure that conjoins contradictory terms, such as "jumbo shrimp" or "deafening silence."
A palindrome is a word, phrase, verse, sentence, or even poem that reads the same forward or backward. It stems from the Greek word palindromos. The carefully placed words create the same sentence, whether it is read forward or backward. For example, 'Mirrored images reflect images mirrored' which includes a word in the center as a reversal point for the sentence or even the poem.
The pantoum consists of a series of quatrains rhyming abab. The second and fourth lines of the first quatrain recur as the first and third lines in the following quatrain. Succeeding quatrains introduce a new second rhyme, i.e. abab bcbc. The form can include as many stanzas as the poet wishes as long as they follow this structure. The closing stanza opens with the second line of the previous stanza, but the second and fourth lines come from the first stanza. Hence, the last stanza is structured like this: Line 2 of previous stanza Line 3 of first stanza Line 4 of previous stanza Line 1 of first stanza
The pantun was created in Malay. It was originally an oral literary form of expression. Pantuns have an even number of lines and can range from two to sixteen lines. It generally has four lines and has a structured fixed rhythm. Every line tends to have anywhere from eight to twelve syllables. The quatrains rhyme in an abab pattern with the second and fourth lines of the first stanza becoming the third and first lines of the following stanza respectively. While it’s similar to the pantoum, the lines are reversed when they are repeated in the poem.
A parody is an artistic work that imitates or mocks the style of an author or work for comic effect or ridicule. For example, Weird Al Yankovic parodied Madonna's song "Like a Virgin" with his song "Like a Surgeon."
A pastoral poem depicts an idyllic life in the countryside.
Pathos is the quality in an artistic work that evokes feelings of sympathy, pity, or sorrow.
A persona is a voice or character in a literary work.
Prose is a type of poem that reads as a short story.
A pyrrhic is a metrical foot used in types of poetry. It consists of two unstressed syllables (uu).
A quatrain is a poem consisting of four lines of verse with a specific rhyming scheme with the first and third lines rhyming and the second and fourth lines rhyming. The word "quatrain" can also be used to describe a four-line stanza within a poem.
This non-political French form does not have a rhyme scheme. In order to be a reverdie, the poem must impart the story of meeting an attractive mystical woman who signifies the reward of nature, spring, and love.
Rhyme Royal (Rime Royal)
The rhyme royal is a French stanza with an ababbcc rhyme pattern written in iambic pentameter. Literary legend dates it back to the 15th century. This term can be used to describe a poetic form or simply a stanza within a poem. Geoffrey Chaucer introduced this form into English poetry.
The rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyming lines in a poem. Rhyme schemes are denoted by representative letters to show which lines rhyme. For example, abab could denote a quatrain's rhyme scheme.
Rhythm is the actual sound that results from a line of poetry. Thus, the meter of a line may be described as being "iambic", but a full description of the rhythm would require the pattern analysis of the language to include tempo changes and how the meter interacts with other elements of the vocabulary. In English, metrical rhythm is generally used. It involves exact patterns of stresses or syllables in repeated patterns within a line called "feet." Rhythm based on meter in English usually concerns the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
This is a variation of the rondeau where the first two lines of the first stanza are repeated as the last lines of the second and third stanzas. This fourteen-line poem relies on a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaAB. (AB represents the repetition of the same line.)
The rondelet is a brief form of French poetry. It consists of one seven-line stanza and a refrain with a strict rhyme scheme and a distinct meter pattern. The refrain should contain the same words, but changes to punctuation are acceptable. Line 1 four syllables (a) Line 2 eight syllables (b) Line 3 (repeat of line 1) Line 4 eight syllables (a) Line 5 eight syllables (b) Line 6 eight syllables (b) Line 7 (repeat of line 1)
The rubaiyat is an Arabic poem; it is the Persian word for quatrain. The rhyme scheme is aaba. The convention for expanded rubaiyat allows the unrhymed line to become the rhymed line in the following stanzas. If it continues to the z for the rhyme scheme, the unrhymed line would rhyme with the first (a).
Scansion is the term used to describe the analysis of the patterns of meter in a poem.
This Japanese form uses the same format as the haiku, but it tends to be about human imperfection rather than nature.
This French form consists of thirty-nine lines. There are six six-line stanzas and it usually concludes with a triplet. There is no restriction on line length though it traditionally is written in iambic pentameter. The first stanza has six lines. The word that ends each of the six lines must also end the lines of the five following stanzas in a particular pattern. The pattern would look like this if you numbered the lines. Stanza 1—123456 Stanza 2—615243 Stanza 3—364125 Stanza 4—532614 Stanza 5—451362 Stanza 6—246531. The concluding triplet Line 1 uses the words from 2 and 5 Line 2 uses the words from 4 and 3 Line 3 uses the words from 1 and 6
This Korean style was originally called tanga. This form, like the haiku, is founded in natural themes and a short structure. However, metaphysical and astronomical themes are also investigated. The lines average fourteen to sixteen syllables, for a total of anywhere from forty-four to forty-six. When spoken, there is a pause in the middle of the line. In English, they are often printed as six lines rather than three. The first line is used to introduce a situation. The second line develops it and the third line provides a conclusion with a twist to resolve the tension and provides an enduring ending.
A simile is a figure of speech used to compare one subject to another. Frequently, similes are denoted by use of the words "like," "as," or "so." For example, "my smile is like an umbrella" is a simile.
The sonnet usually focuses on the subject of real or imagined courtly love. It is a form of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter in a variation of rhyme schemes: abba abba cd ee dd or abba abba cde cde.
Sonnet, Petrarchan (Italian)
The Petrarchan sonnet is made of two parts the octave and the sestet. The octave (abba abba) introduces a problem from a viewpoint. The sestet (cde cde) changes the viewpoint and the poem concludes with a personal resolution. While the octave must be rhymed abba, there are many variations for the sestet’s rhyme scheme. It may be cce dde or cdd cee, etc.
Sonnet, Shakespearean (English)
The Shakespearean sonnet is another variation of the fourteen-line poem consisting of three quatrains and a final couplet written in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. The third quatrain is marked by a change in the poem’s tone or the introduction of a revelation or epiphany.
A spondee is a metrical foot used in types of poetry. It consists of two stressed syllables (//).
The stanza is the second largest unit of a poem. It is also referred to as a "verse." In traditional poetry, stanzas are often identified by a shared rhyme scheme, form, or fixed number of lines (sestet and quatrain, for example). In modern poetry, stanzas may also be created for visual appearance when printed.
The stanza break is the blank line that separates stanzas.
A syllable is a unit of spoken language consisting of a single uninterrupted sound. Syllables are important for a number of forms such as the haiku.
A synecdoche is a type of metaphor where a part of an item represents the whole. For example, "Four tongues wagged in unison" is a synecdoche. The tongues represent the people speaking.
Synesthesia combines two senses together. For example, "velvet silence" lets one feel the sound.
A synonym is a word that has a similar definition to another word, making them interchangeable in context. For example, a synonym of "laugh" is "chortle."
The Tanaga is a short type of Filipino poem, consisting of four seven-syllable lines each with the same rhyme at the end of each line. It would be 7-7-7-7 syllabic verse, with an aaaa rhyme scheme. Like the haiku, traditional tanagas do not have titles. They have been handed down from oral history or are used to share proverbs and moral ethics. Tanagas were designed for their original language, Tagalog. However, the form is dying. The modern tanagas can be written in English and other languages. In the modern movement, lines are still restricted to seven syllables, but the rhyme scheme can vary to aabb, abab, abba or even aaab, baaa, or abcd.
The tanka originated in Japan. This five-line poem consists of thirty-one syllables broken up as five-seven-five-seven-seven. It is unrhymed and traditionally it reflects nature in a simple and succinct style. The haiku was originally the opening three lines of a tanka.
The tercet is three lines of Poetry forming a stanza or a poem. An enclosed tercet rhymes aba. Both the villanelle and the Italian sonnet use a tercet.
The terzanelle combines the villanelle and the terza rima. It is nineteen lines total with five triplets and a concluding quatrain. The rhyme scheme for the five triplets is aba bcb cdc ded efe. It ends with either fafa or ffaa.
One of the French forms of poetry, a triolet consists of a pair of quatrains with two rhyming sounds. The first, fourth, and seventh line are exactly the same, and the second line repeats as the last (eighth) line. It uses a rhyme scheme of ABaAabAB. The capitals represent the repeated lines.
A trochee is a metrical foot consisting of a stressed and unstressed syllable, such as Pe-ter. This type of foot often appears in nursery rhymes.
A villanelle is a French style nineteen-line poem consisting of a very specific rhyming scheme: aba aba aba aba aba abaa. The first and the third lines in the first stanza are repeated in alternating order throughout the poem, and appear together in the last two lines.
The virelai ancien originated in Middle Ages France. It consists of a tercet of two long lines and one short line rhyming aab to create the foundation for the stanza. Each stanza can have as many tercets as the poet wishes. The non-rhymed lines become the rhyming lines of the following stanza. A sample rhyme scheme would be aabaab bbcbbc ccdccd ddadda.
The virelai nouveau is a rare and difficult form to use that’s main characteristic uses a double refrain on only two rhymes. The poem begins with a couplet and these two lines become the repeating refrain through the alternating stanzas. The poem ends with an envoi and the last two lines are the opening couplet in reversed order. There is no standard of lines per stanza or pattern of rhymes.