Facts About the Types and Styles of Poetry
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Facts About the Types and Styles of Poetry

This article is written in response to a question posted recently asking for information on the types of poetry and how many styles of this form of creative writing there are. Poetry can simply be defined as an expression of a writer’s feelings, experiences or emotions written in a metrical form, although there are many types of poem in which a writer can express themselves, here are some of the most popular styles of poetry you may find.

An Acrostic poem is a verse of usually single word lines with the initial letter of each word spelling another word linking itself to that verse or message.

A Ballad is a type of poem that tells a story throughout its narrative and is one of the most popular forms of poetry. Many ballads (at least the name has,) have been adopted into the use of love songs.

Blank Verse is a non-rhyming form of poetry that contains or is written within a specific meter such as iambic pentameter. The majority of William Shakespeare’s plays were written using this style.

Burlesque conveys a serious subject but expresses its message through the use of humour or exaggeration usually within a theatrical environment.

Canzone or song in the Italian language is a type of poem originating in Italy containing five or six stanzas, with the final one bringing about the conclusion.

The form of poetry known as a Cinquain is one of five lines with the first line being of a single word, the next comprising just two words, up to five words in the fifth and final line.

A Couplet is a poem of just two lines with the final words in each line rhyming with each other while conveying a message.

A Diamante poem is one of seven lines in a diamond shape in that the first and final lines each have just a single word; the second and sixth lines are two words long. The third and fifth lines have three words each while the central fourth line has four words.

An Elegy is usually a way of expressing ones sadness at the loss of an individual at their funeral or memorial service.

An Epic poem is a very old form of poetry; this style of poem is usually very long and used to convey the life story of a heroic person or individual or of a character from mythology or legend.

Free Verse is a form of poetry that is free to use whatever style the writer wishes to follow, free of any forms or styles ruling on rhyme, stanzas or meter.

Ghazal is a common form of poetic literature used in Arabic, Persian or Urdu writing. Each Ghazal comprises of between five and fifteen couplets that each rhyme and are based on a theme of love or on divinity. The poet will usually contain his signature within the closing couplet.

The Haiku originates from the Japanese language and is a poem of just three lines with the first and third lines containing any combination of words totalling five syllables, while the central line uses a combination of words with a total of seven syllables to convey its message.

An Idyll is a poem that describes the life of those living a pastoral lifestyle in a short poem with idyllic terms; it can also be used to narrate the story of heroes of ancient times.

Jintishi is a Chinese form of poetry using four traditional tones of eight lines and formed into four separate couplets. The poems in this style can be based on a variety of themes and subjects. Du Fu (712 to 770 AD) was famous for writing this style of poetry.

A Limerick is a witty and humorous style of poetry that should adhere to a strict code of rhyme.

A Lyrical poem resembles a song and the poet will express his or her feelings and emotions directly to the reader or listener.

A Minnesang is a form of poetry that originates from Germany in the 12th century with the theme or subject primarily being love.

Narrative poems are long and can be complex, containing a plot or story with a regular pattern of rhyme. A number of previously mentioned styles of poetry can be included into this category including Ballad, Idyll and Epic poems.

An Ode is similar to a Lyrical poem in style although its message is serious; it is one full of thought and always delivered in verse.

A Pantoum follows a specific pattern in that the second and fourth line of each stanza becomes the first and third line of the following stanza.

A Pastourelle is a form of French poetry that depicts the romance and life of shepherds. This old style of poetry can also be used for pastoral poetry.

A Ruba’i is a popular form of poetry for Arabian and Persian poets consisting of a four line quatrain.

A Sestina is a poem of six separate six line stanzas that do not rhyme but the final word of each line of the original stanza is repeated throughout those that follow in a pattern that each fills lines one to six across the course of the poem. The three lines of the 7th stanza contain each of the six key words with two appearing along each line.

A Sijo is a Korean poem consisting of three lines with a pause between each line.

A Sonnet is usually a poem of 14 lines; they can also be classed as Shakespearean sonnets that comprise of three quatrains (three times four lines) and a single couplet, or an Italian sonnet which is two quatrains and one sestet (six line stanza).

A Tanka is another form of poetry that originates from Japan and is similar to the haiku. This longer version has five lines, the first and third lines use five syllables and the three remaining lines use seven.

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Comments (6)

nice summaries!

A comprehensive list of poetic genres. Thanks!

Impressive summary. I use to write poems before, but informative writing has shifted my interest to non-fiction..

Great to know these types of poetry, thank you John.

Revisiting your so intereesting post. Thank you, John.

What I like about poetry is that there are styles that restrict your usage of words. This makes everything challenging and fun.