Poetic Styles

Thanks to atthedrivein for the photograph.
Sources: ShadowPoetry.com, jrosenberry1

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

BalladA short narrative poem with stanzas of two or four lines and usually a refrain. The story of a ballad can originate from a wide range of subject matter but most frequently deals with folk-lore or popular legends. They are written in straight-forward verse, seldom with detail, but always with graphic simplicity and force. Most ballads are suitable for singing and, while sometimes varied in practice, are generally written in ballad meter, i.e., alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, with the last words of the second and fourth lines rhyming.

Cinquain is a short, usually unrhymed poem consisting of twenty-two syllables distributed as 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, in five lines. It was developed by the Imagist poet, Adelaide Crapsey.

A Clerihew is a comic verse consisting of two couplets and a specific rhyming scheme, aabb invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) at the age of 16. The poem is about/deals with a person/character within the first rhyme. In most cases, the first line names a person, and the second line ends with something that rhymes with the name of the person.

A Diamante is a seven-lined contrast poem set up in a diamond shape. The first line begins with a noun/subject, and second line contains two adjectives that describe the beginning noun. The third line contains three words ending in -ing relating to the noun/subject. The forth line contains two words that describe the noun/subject and two that describe the closing synonym/antonym. If using an antonym for the ending, this is where the shift should occur. In the fifth line are three more -ing words describing the ending antonym/synonym, and the sixth are two more adjectives describing the ending antonym/synonym. The last line ends with the first noun’s antonym or synonym.

Didactic Poetry is a form of poetry intended for instruction such as for knowledge or to teach.

An Epic is a long narrative poem celebrating the adventures and achievements of a hero…epics deal with the traditions, mythical or historical, of a nation.

Epigrams are short satirical poems ending with either a humorous retort or a stinging punchline.  Used mainly as expressions of social criticism or political satire, the most common forms are written as a couplet: a pair of rhymed lines in the same meter.

An epitaph is a brief poem inscribed on a tombstone praising a deceased person, usually with rhyming lines.

The poetry form, Etheree, consists of 10 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables. Etheree can also be reversed and written 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

A fable is a poetic story composed in verse or prose with a moral summed up at the end. Usually using animals as characters to teach a valuable lesson.

Free Verse
Free Verse is an irregular form of poetry in which the content free of traditional rules of versification, (freedom from fixed meter or rhyme). In moving from line to line, the poet’s main consideration is where to insert line breaks. Some ways of doing this include breaking the line where there is a natural pause or at a point of suspense for the reader.

A Ghazal is a poem that is made up like an odd numbered chain of couplets, where each couplet is an independent poem. It should be natural to put a comma at the end of the first line. The Ghazal has a refrain of one to three words that repeat, and an inline rhyme that preceedes the refrain. Lines 1 and 2, then every second line, has this refrain and inline rhyme, and the last couplet should refer to the authors pen-name… The rhyming scheme is AA bA cA dA eA etc.

Haiku (also called nature or seasonal haiku) is an unrhymed Japanese verse consisting of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables (5, 7, 5) or 17 syllables in all. Haiku is usually written in the present tense and focuses on nature (seasons).

The Katauta is an unrhymed japanese form consisting of 17 or 19 syllables. The poem is a three-lined poem the following syllable counts: 5/7/5 or 5/7/7. The Katauta form was used for poems addressed to a lover. A single katauta is considered incomplete or a half-poem, however, a pair of katautas using the syllable count of 5,7,7 is called a sedoka.

A Kyrielle is a French form of rhyming poetry written in quatrains (a stanza consisting of 4 lines), and each quatrain contains a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the poem consists of only eight syllables. There is no limit to the amount of stanzas a Kyrielle may have, but three is considered the accepted minimum. Some popular rhyming schemes for a Kyrielle are: aabB, ccbB, ddbB, with B being the repeated line, or abaB, cbcB, dbdB. Mixing up the rhyme scheme is possible for an unusual pattern of: axaZ, bxbZ, cxcZ, dxdZ, etc. with Z being the repeated line. The rhyme pattern is completely up to the poet.

Kyrielle Sonnet
A Kyrielle Sonnet consists of 14 lines (three rhyming quatrain stanzas and a non-rhyming couplet). Just like the traditional Kyrielle poem, the Kyrielle Sonnet also has a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the Kyrielle Sonnet consists of only eight syllables. French poetry forms have a tendency to link back to the beginning of the poem, so common practice is to use the first and last line of the first quatrain as the ending couplet. This would also re-enforce the refrain within the poem. Therefore, a good rhyming scheme for a Kyrielle Sonnet would be: AabB, ccbB, ddbB, AB -or- AbaB, cbcB, dbdB, AB.

The Lanturne is a five-line verse shaped like a Japanese lantern with a syllabic pattern of one, two, three, four, one.

A Limerick is a rhymed humorous or nonsense poem of five lines which originated in Limerick, Ireland. The Limerick has a set rhyme scheme of : a-a-b-b-a with a syllable structure of: 9-9-6-6-9. The rhythm of the poem should go as follows: Lines 1, 2, 5: weak, weak, STRONG, weak, weak, STRONG, weak, weak, STRONG, weak, weak Lines 3, 4: weak, weak, STRONG, weak, weak, STRONG, weak, weak

Minute Poetry
The Minute Poem is rhyming verse form consisting of 12 lines of 60 syllables written in strict iambic meter. The poem is formatted into 3 stanzas of 8,4,4,4; 8,4,4,4; 8,4,4,4 syllables. The rhyme scheme is as follows: aabb, ccdd, eeff

A monody is a poem in which one person laments another’s death.

A Monorhyme is a poem in which all the lines have the same end rhyme.

Naani is one of Indian’s most popular Telugu poems. Naani means an expression of one and all. It consists of 4 lines, the total lines consists of 20 to 25 syllables. The poem is not bounded to a particular subject. Generally it depends upon human relations and current statements. This poetry was introduced by one of the renowned Telugu poets Dr. N.Gopi.

A nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second line eight syllables, the third line seven syllables, etc… until line nine finishes with one syllable. It can be on any subject and rhyming is optional.

An Ode is a poem praising and glorifying a person, place or thing.

Ottava Rima
A Ottava Rima is a poem written in 8-line octives. Each line is of a 10 or 11 syllable count in the following rhyme: one octive poem. abababcc, two octive poem. abababcc, dededeff, three octive poem. abababcc, dededeff, ghghghii, …so on and so on

Also Known as Mirrored Poetry. A palindrome, by definition, is a word, phrase, verse, sentence, or even poem that reads the same forward or backward. It stems from the Greek word palindromos: palin, meaning again, and dromos, meaning a running. Combining the two together, the Greek meaning gives us, running back again… The carefully placed words form 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 in which the second and fourth lines of a quatrain recur as the first and third lines in the succeeding quatrain; each quatrain introduces a new second rhyme as BCBC, CDCD. The first line of the series recurs as the last line of the closing quatrain, and third line of the poem recurs as the second line of the closing quatrain, rhyming ZAZA. The design is simple: Line 1, Line 2, Line 3, Line 4, Line 5 (repeat of line 2), Line 6, Line 7 (repeat of line 4), Line 8. Continue with as many stanzas as you wish, but the ending stanzathen repeats the second and fourth lines of the previous stanza (as its first and third lines), and also repeats the third line of the first stanza, as its second line, and the first line of the first stanza as its fourth. So the first line of the poem is also the last. Last stanza: Line 2 of previous stanza, Line 3 of first stanza, Line 4 of previous stanza, Line 1 of first stanza.

A Quatern is a sixteen line French form composed of four quatrains. It is similar to the Kyrielle and the Retourne. It has a refrain that is in a different place in each quatrain. The first line of stanza one is the second line of stanza two, third line of stanza three, and fourth line of stanza four. A quatern has eight syllables per line. It does not have to be iambic or follow a set rhyme scheme.

A Quatrain is a poem consisting of four lines of verse with a specific rhyming scheme. Few examples: abab, abba (envelope rhyme), aabb, aaba, bbcb, ccdc, dddd (chain rhyme)

The English word quinzaine come from the French word qunize, meaning fifteen. A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables. These syllables are distributed among three lines so that there are seven syllables in the first line, five in the second line and three in the third line (7/5/3). The first line makes a statement. The next two lines ask a question relating to that statement.

A Rispetto, an Italian form of poetry, is a complete poem of two rhyme quatrains with strict meter. The meter is usually iambic tetrameter with a rhyme scheme of abab ccdd. A Heroic Rispetto is written in Iambic pentameter, usually featuring the same rhyme scheme.

A Rondeau is a French form, 15 lines long, consisting of three stanzas: a quintet, a quatrain, and a sestet with a rhyme scheme as follows: aabba aabR aabbaR. Lines 9 and 15 are short – a refrain (R) consisting of a phrase taken from line one. The other lines are longer (but all of the same metrical length).

A French form consisting of 13 lines: two quatrains and a quintet, rhyming as follows: ABba abAB abbaA. The capital letters are the refrains, or repeats.

The Rondelet is a French form consisting of a single septet with two rhymes and one refrain: AbAabbA. The capital letters are the refrains, or repeats. The refrain is written in tetra-syllabic or dimeter and the other lines are twice as long – octasyllabic or tetrameter.

The Sedoka is an unrhymed poem made up of two three-line katauta with the following syllable counts: 5/7/7, 5/7/7. A Sedoka, pair of katauta as a single poem, may address the same subject from differing perspectives.

Senryu (also called human haiku) is an unrhymed Japanese verse consisting of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables (5, 7, 5) or 17 syllables in all. Senryu is usually written in the present tense and only references to some aspect of human nature or emotions. They possess no references to the natural world and thus stand out from nature/seasonal haiku.

The Septolet is a poem consisting of seven lines containing fourteen words with a break in between the two parts. Both parts deal with the same thought and create a picture.

The sestina is a strict ordered form of poetry, dating back to twelfth century French troubadours. It consists of six six-line (sestets) stanzas followed by a three-line envoy. Rather than use a rhyme scheme, the six ending words of the first stanza are repeated as the ending words of the other five stanzas in a set pattern. The envoy uses two of the ending words per line, again in a set pattern.

First stanza, ..1 ..2 ..3 ..4 ..5 ..6
Second stanza, ..6 ..1 ..5 .. 2 ..4 ..3
Third stanza, ..3 ..6 ..4 ..1 ..2 ..5
Fourth stanza, ..5 ..3 ..2 ..6 ..1 ..4
Fifth stanza, ..4 ..5 ..1 ..3 ..6 ..2
Sixth stanza, ..2 ..4 ..6 ..5 ..3 ..1

Concluding tercet:
middle of first line ..2, end of first line ..5
middle of second line ..4, end of second line..3
middle if third line ..6, end of third line ..1

Shape Poetry
Shape Poetry is also associated with Concrete Poetry. Shape is one of the main things that separate prose and poetry. Poetry can take on many formats, but one of the most inventive forms is for the poem to take on the shape of its subject. Therefore, if the subject of your poem were of a flower, then the poem would be shaped like a flower. If it were of a fish, then the poem would take on the shape of a fish. Shape and Concrete Poetry go hand-in-hand; however, Concrete or Visual Poetry don’t have to take on the particular shape of the poem’s subject, but rather the wording in the poem can enhance the effect of the words such as in this line:

an angel tumbling
         to earth . . .

Designing your own shape poem can be simple and fun, but try not to pick anything that would be too difficult. We suggest mapping out or drawing your shape first, and then importing the text of your poem into your shape.

A Song is an expression of a poet’s personal emotions, meant to be sung. Lyrics in a song contain verses (lines that make up a song; sung poem) and a chorus (a repeating verse in a song (refrain).

A Sonnet is a poem consisting of 14 lines (iambic pentameter) with a particular rhyming scheme: #1) abab cdcd efef gg, #2) abba cddc effe gg, #3) abba abba cdcd cd. A Shakespearean (English) sonnet has three quatrains and a couplet, and rhymes abab cdcd efef gg. An Italian sonnet is composed of an octave, rhyming abbaabba, and a sestet, rhyming cdecde or cdcdcd, or in some variant pattern, but with no closing couplet. Usually, English and Italian Sonnets have 10 syllables per line, but Italian Sonnets can also have 11 syllables per line. French sonnets follow in this same pattern, but normally have 12 syllables per line.

Tanka is a classic form of Japanese poetry related to the haiku with five unrhymed lines of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables. (5, 7, 5, 7, 7)

Terza Rima
A Terza Rima is a poem with an eleven syllable count in each line and a rhyming scheme of aba, bcb, cdc, dd. For even more of a challenge, try the Terza Rima Sonnet. This form of poem has an eleven syllable count in each line and a rhyming scheme of aba, bcb, cdc, ded, ee.

The Terzanelle is a poetry type which is a combination of the villanelle and the terza rima forms. It is a 19-line poem consisting of five interlocking triplets/tercets plus a concluding quatrain in which the first and third lines of the first triplet appear as refrains. The middle line of each triplet is repeated, reappearing as the last line of the succeeding triplet with the exception of the center line of the next-to-the-last stanza which appears in the quatrain. The rhyme and refrain scheme for the triplets is as follows:

1. A
2. B
3. A

4. b
5. C
6. B

7. c
8. D
9. C

10. d
11. E
12. D

13. e
14. F
15. E

Ending Type 1:

16. f
17. A
18. F
19. A

Ending Type 2:

16. f
17. F
18. A
19. A

Each line of the poem should be the same metrical length.

Tetractys, a poetic form invented by Ray Stebbing, consists of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20). Tetractys can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count. Tetractys can also be reversed and written 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, Double Tetractys: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, Triple Tetractys: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, and so on.

Tongue Twister
A Tongue Twister poem is made up of lines/verses that are hard to say when read aloud by using similar consonant sounds in succession (use of alliteration). In other words, the poem ties your tongue into knots. This form does not require end or internal rhyme.

A Triolet is a poetic form consisting of only 8 lines. Within a Triolet, the 1st, 4th, and 7th lines repeat, and the 2nd and 8th lines do as well. The rhyme scheme is simple: ABaAabAB, capital letters representing the repeated lines. Make writing a Triolet more challenging! Make each line 8 syllables in length (4 metrical feet), written in iambic tetrameter (the more common way), or try it in pentameter (English version) where each line only has 10 syllables (5 metrical feet).

A six line poem consisting of 2, 2, 2, 2, 9, 9 syllables. The first four lines rhyme and are all descriptive words. The last two lines rhyme and incorporate the first, second, third, and fourth lines as the 5th through 8th syllables.

A Villanelle is a 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 couplet (last two lines).

The zejel’s opening stanza presents the theme of the poem and is called the cabeza.  It is either a rhymed couplet (AA) or a rhymed tercet (AAA). Successive stanzas are quatrains built with a tercet (“mudanza”) and a single line (“vuelta”) that rhymes with the cabeza.

So… the rhyme scheme is either:

AA / BBBA / CCCA / DDDA / etc.


AAA / BBBA / CCCA / DDDA / etc.

Lines are usually 8 syllables long (but, if I understand correctly, to be done properly in Spanish, the 7th syllable is stressed).
Language is informal, and topics may include love, drink, & friendship.

One thought on “Poetic Styles

  1. Pingback: The Night Cafe (Minute Poetry – Gauguin Poems) | Blog It or Lose It!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s