7 types of poetry you must know about

Poetry is used by people to express themselves artistically. Some call it wordplay, some simply get lost in it. Many types of poetry exist today and in different languages.

As more and more people are reading and writing poetry, poetry types that are becoming popular include many of the following: haiku, free verse, Cinquains, Narrative poetry, Ode, Elegy, Limerick, and others.

Before we dive into different types of poetry, we would like to share a little bit history of poetry. How poetry came into existence?

In one form or the other, it is believed that poetry has been in existence for thousands of years. The earliest poetry existed in the form of hymns and other types of songs such as chants.

Poetry can have a rhyming effect or can be free from rhyming. It’s up to the poet as to how he/she wants to portray the expressions through the words.

The challenge while trying different types of poetry is can sometimes become tiresome. Ideally, it is like writer’s block that stops the poet from writing the poem that is stuck in his mind.

Often confused, we will try to explain the different types of poetry in the best possible way.

1. Free Verse     

Often used in writing contemporary poetry, free verse is used by poets to express themselves, as the name suggests, freely. There are no rules to be followed The poet can choose to rhyme or not to rhyme, or create a rhythm.

If you are a beginner poet and would not want to limit yourself with rules and boundaries, then free verse is the type of poetry for you.

Below is an example of Free Verse Poetry –

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom. 

2.  Haiku

The Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry. It became insanely popular across the world. Unlike other types of poetry, Haiku has some rules. It is a short form of poetry consisting of three lines. The lines or stanzas follow the 5/7/5 syllable rule.

The poetry came into existence to express the beauty of nature but as the popularity grew across the world, rules were often broken. But still, the focus of writing a Haiku is expressing the simple moments in life.

If you are a poet and want to challenge yourself with a set of rules to carefully choose the words, Haiku is for you.  

Below is an example of Haiku –

 “Lighting One Candle” by Yosa Buson
 The light of a candle
 Is transferred to another candle—
 Spring twilight 

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3. Sonnet

Made popular by none other than William Shakespeare, Sonnet is a very old type of poetry. Originated in Italy in the 13th Century it was later perfected by Petrarch.

The word “sonetto’ is actually an Italian word for “a little sound or song”. Sonnet is a 14 line poetry written in iambic pentameter.

It’s a must-try for the poets who love to challenge themselves with different forms of poetry or simply want to try out new poetry types.

Here is an example of Sonnet to soothe your writing nerves –

My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun, by William Shakespeare (Shakespearean Sonnet)
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare. 

4. Limerick

Made popular by Edward Lear in the 19th Century, Limerick is a type of poetry that is funny and sometimes rude! Following a set rhyme scheme of AABBA, lines one, two, and five are longer in length than the third and the fourth line.

Below is an example of a Limerick. Would you like to try writing one?

There was a young lady of Norway
Who hung by her toes in a doorway.
She said to her beau
‘Just look at me Joe,
I think I’ve discovered one more way.’

5. Ode

Coming from ancient Greece, this is also one of the oldest types of poetry. An ode is written to praise a person, place, or thing. It’s like a tribute to its subject.

You can write an ode to your pet, your favorite place, or any relative. The subject can be dead or alive.

An example of an ode is given below. For whom you would like to write an ode?

 Turn wheresoe’er I may,
 By night or day,
 The things which I have seen I now can see no more. 

6. Ballad

Want to tell a dramatic or an emotional story through poetry? If you answer YES to this question, then Ballad is your best choice. Ballad is also among one of the oldest types of poetry.

There are some rules when it comes to writing a Ballad. They usually consist of four lines and have a rhyme scheme of ABAB or ABCB but it can be modified to suit the writers’ needs.

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Wondering if you have heard a Ballad? Most of the modern pop songs can be referred to as Ballads!

Below is an example of Ballad taken from an early Ballad named “Ballata 5” by Guido Cavalcanti –  

 "That which befalls me in my Lady's presence
 Bars explanation intellectual.
 I seem to see a lady wonderful
 Spring forth between her lips, one whom no sense
 Can fully tell the mind of,and one whence
 Another, in beauty, springeth marvelous,
 From whom a star goes forth and speaketh thus:
 'Now my salvation is gone forth from thee.'" 

7. Cinquains

Inspired by Japanese Haiku, Cinquain is also a five line poem. Different types of Cinquains exist such as American cinquains, didactic cinquains, reverse cinquains, butterfly cinquains and crown cinquains.

Below is a sample Cinquain –

Trapped by Adelaide Crapsey
Well and
If day on day
Follows, and weary year
On year…and ever days and years…

Have you tried any of these forms Which ones are your favorites? We would love to see your poems! Write your poems in the comments section below.

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