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Old January 12th, 2011 (4:45 AM). Edited January 21st, 2011 by bobandbill.
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Poetry Guides

Reposted with edits so nobody has to wade through multiple multi-year-old posts with errors and annoying formatting in it and all!
If you see any mistakes or wish to suggest or contribute changes or additions, PM myself and/or Astinus!

Types of Poetry: This post!
Poetry FAQ: 2nd post
Poetry Reviewing Guide: 3rd post
Advice for Writing Poetry: 4th post

Types of Poetry

Written by Kyosuke and Scytheteen
Sonnet additions by JX Valentine

I have decided to post a little summary of the different types of poetry. There are plenty of others, but these are the most common ones. Each comes with a link to wikipedia for further examples and explanation - do check them out!

Haiku: A short, Japanese type of poetry that is usually associated with nature or has a seasonal reference. No rhyming occurs in it, and is only three lines long, with five syllables making up the first and last line, and three in the middle, totalling seventeen syllables.

eg. The dying plant bends (5 syllables)
And drips its dew to the ground (7 syllables)
It falls like a tear (5 syllables)

Tanka: Another Japanese form that relies on the number of syllables, and lines with no rhyming except the forth and fifth line. Part of a genre of Japanese Poetry called 'Waka', and is the most popular of it.

eg. I have my own place (5 syllables)
Where I can go for hours (7 syllables)
I go there to write (5 syllables)
It is not difficult to find (7 syllables) (rhyming)
Search within your heart and mind. (7 syllables) (rhyming)

Acrostic: A type of poetry that spells out a word with the first letters vertically, with that word typically serving as the theme or an important aspect of the poem. It could be about anything, just as long as the first letter of the word spells something out.


Catching up on homework I forgot to finish
Hurry on to school before I'm late!
Observing the class as the teacher speaks about the day
Opening my backpack to get my pen and pencils
Lingering home after a grueling day of learning

Cinquain: Another type that has a total of five lines, that relates to a topic. There are five things that must go in a cinquain, one for each line in this order: the title, a description of your topic, a action relating to it, your feeling towards it, and another title that relates to the first one. A certain number of syllables per line is also a feature of the cinquain, which varies from form to form. For instance, the usual 'Crapsey' form is as so:

eg. Newbies (Title) (2 syllables)
active, friendly (Description) (4 syllables)
posting, viewing, spamming (action) (6 syllables)
Wonders what will become of them (feeling) (8 syllables)
Members (Title) (2 syllables)

Free Verse: A poem that simple does not have any sort of "rules" applied to it. They do not need a specific number of syllables per line, nor do they need to rhyme, and so forth.

eg. What do the oceans do at night?
Do they tease and tickle the bottom of boats?
Do they ripple away in fright?
Or are the beaches like coats
That keep them still and quiet
And once the day breaks and it's breakfast time
Do the oceans wish for some other diet than fish?

Sonnets: A poem that consists of 14 lines and has a strict rhyming schme and structure, which varies from sonnet type to sonnet type - for instance a Shakespearean, or English, sonnet consists of 14 lines, each line containing ten syllables. Iambic pentameter is often employed for sonnets.

eg. Why do we continue to kill in various ways?
Why do we waste time with jealousy and hate?
Why not take advantage of the current date?
Stop the violence now, don't let it grow.
Love is important, a fact that we all know.
As the fires of hate continue to burn
The hands of clock continue to turn.
No one can find reason to our madness today.
The gift of life is extremely short
Demand no more violence of any sort!
With kindness, life's quality we can improve!
As those hands on the clock continue to move.
Day becomes night and night becomes day
The hands of the clock keep ticking away.

More on sonnets by JX Valentine!

Technically speaking, there's three types of sonnets. All of them follow iambic pentameter (five iambs -- or sets of one stressed and one unstressed syllable -- to each line) and have a particular rhyme scheme. However, it's how those lines are arranged that makes all the difference.

Petrarchan sonnets (also called Italian sonnets) consist of one octave (or two quatrains) and one sestet. Thus, the sonnet usually follows the rhyme scheme ABBAABBA CDECDE (or CDCDCD), where all of the A lines rhyme with each other, all of the B lines rhyme, and so forth. It usually tells gives some sort of philosophical statement about an ideal. You can see an example here.

Originally Posted by From the link
"On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-three"

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arrived so near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits indu'th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven.
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-master's eye.

-John Milton
There's two types of English sonnets, but the most common is the Shakespearean sonnet (or Elizabethan sonnet). Both types of English sonnets follow similar formats, which contain three quatrains and one couplet. Thus, its rhyme scheme is usually ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

You most often see Shakespearean sonnets dealing out the same sort of philosophical statement as a Petrarchan, but Shakespeareans usually like to connect it to some sort of object, such as a toaster. The quatrains are spent describing the toaster and what it does, whereas the couplet connects the toaster's function to life.

If you want an example of a Shakespearean sonnet, your best bet is actually looking at one of Shakespeare's sonnets.

Originally Posted by From the link
Shakespeare's Sonnet CXXX

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 hair 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 fair
As any she belied with false compare.
Lastly, you've got Spenserian sonnets, which are basically Shakespearean sonnets following a different rhyme scheme. Instead of the same ABAB CDCD scheme, it follows this: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE, a scheme where the last line of the quatrain before rhymes with the first line of the quatrain after. A good example is here.

Originally Posted by From the link
"London, 1802"

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

Rap: Yes - even rap is a type of poetry. It started in the 1970's and it mainly told what life was like for those while growing up.

eg. Don't wait to beat the street
Stay in school and keep your seat
The entire eight parts of speech
Will your reading, writing, and speaking teach!

Narrative poems: Narrative poems are essentially poms with a plot - they tell a story. They may be short or long, complex or simple. Examples of narrative poems include epics or ballads - famous examples include The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Raven and epics like Iliad, and Odyssey


eg. There once was a man named Bob
Who was out looking for a great job
He really needed money to feed pets
His cat's name was Tiger
His dog's name was Ted.
His pets were hungry most of the day
The animals were hungry - they couldn't play
Bob had been laid off for a month or two
There was plenty of work that Bob wouldn't do.
Bob was really hungry.
His stomach was an empty tank
He decided to go rob a local bank.
He walked through the door and looked around
He pointed his gun and yelled "Get down"
Bob took the money and headed for the door.
If only he had seen the officer in the store.
The policeman came out with a shout
Bob thought for a second and then pulled his gun out
One shot, two shots and with a deafening sound
Poor old Bob's body hit the ground.
With his last breath
He thought back to his pets
He sure hoped Tiger and Ted
Would have a great life after he was dead!

Diamonte poems: Diamonte is just what it sounds like, diamond shaped poems, that are written (or typed) in seven lines. They resemble cinquain type poetry, but with no rhyming. Each line consists of seven parts - for instance:

Home (Subject)

Safe, caring (2 descriptions)

Loving, sharing, talking (Three "ing" words)

Friendship, food, car, travels (Four words about the topic)
Living, loving, enjoying (Three "ing" words)

Joyous, adventurous (2 descriptions)

Family (Another word that relates to the subject)

Limerick - A limerick is humorous nonsense verse consisting of a triplet and couplet, making it a five line poem. Lines one, two, and five are the triplet and rhyme. Lines three and four form a rhyming couplet.

There was an old man of Nantucket,
who kept all his cash in a bucket;
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket- Nantucket

Ballad- a ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. It is usually very structured and typically has the second and fourth lines rhyming with each other.

The Ballad of Marian Blacktree

Oh, do you know the mountain road
That leads to yonder peak?
A few will walk that trail alone,
Their dreams they go to seek.

One such was Marian Blacktree,
A lowly sheperdess,
And courting her was Tom, the swain,
Who loved her nonetheless.

A thought occurred to Marian
While watching o'er her sheep,
And gazing at the mountain thus
She nodded off to sleep.


That night she came to Tom and said
She longed to know the sky.
"I'm weary of this valley, love,
I want to learn to fly!"

Poor Thomas did not want to leave,
This valley was all he knew.
So when she turned and left him there
Her heart, it broke in two.


Her faithful swain did track her,
All night the trail led on,
And finally at the mountain top
He looked, but she was gone.

As morning broke and lit the sky
An eagle he did see:
It circled 'round him thrice and cried.
He knew now she was free.


(following by Scytheteen)

List Poetry

A list poem is exactly what it sounds like: a poem composed of a list. What makes a list poem different than an ordinary list is the element of emotions. Often the emotional "punch" of a list poem is contained in the last line.

Still Life With Buddy
Mahogany table top
handmade doily
fluted crystal vase
sprig of forget-me-nots
photo of Buddy dressed to kill
leaning against his ashes

See how the last has that "punch"? That's what your goal is when writing in list form.

Alphabet Poetry

An alphabet poem is similar to an acrostic, but instead of writing a wrord down the left-had side of your page, write the alphabet and then use each letter as the first letter of the first word of each line.

Buddy Never
Accepted the fact he was going to die
Blamed himself for being sick
Considered suicide for more than a minute
Dreamed he'd die at thirty-two
Entered a room without turning heads
Forgave himself for being sick
Gave up hope they'd find a cure
Hid his lesions with band-aids or makeup
Injected his meds without making a face
Joked around about losing his hair
Knew how much I really loved him
Lied to anyone about how he got sick
Made up his mind about reincarnation
Named his last T cell Bert or Ernie
Obeyed his doctors when he knew better
Pretended he wasn't extremely afraid
Quit trying to write even when he went blind
Regretted the way he had lived out his life
Shook hands with the priest who wanted to save him
Told anyone he was ready to die
Understood why they hate us so much
Vowed to be good in exchange for more time
Wondered why him and note somebody else
X-ed out the names of his friends who had died
Yelled out loud when the pain got too great
Zoomed out of this world without changing my life

Found Poetry

A found poem is simply a poem that you find when you lest expect it. The example given below is a poem that the writer "found" while driving along a highway. Keep your eyes open: poetry can be found anywhere and everywhere! You just have to look for it.

Vital Signs
Rest Area
Quiet Zone
No Standing
Blind Drive
Departures Only
Rough Road Ahead
One Way
Ticketed Passengers Only
No Baggage Beyond This Point
Road Narrows
Stay In Lane
Last Exit
No U-Turn
Wooded Area
Light Ahead
Densely Populated
Children At Play
Shoulder Disappears
Dead End

Two-Voice Poetry

Two-voice poetry is written for two people to preform, if read out loud. The poetry usually has two columns-one for each person who is reading the poem. Each person reading the poem reads the text in one of the columns. Sometimes, the poet wants the readers to say something at the same time; so the poet writes the words on the same line in each column. These poems often sound like a dialogue for each poem.
Just like all poetry, poems for two voices need an idea. Nature makes great subject matter for poetry for two voices, but two voices can also be written about school, current events, or events in literature.

We were hurt We were hurt
our families were killed our families were killed
because of our beliefs because of our beliefs
We are We are
The year was around The year was around
London Boggs, governor of
Adolf Hitler, leader of the
thought he knew it all thought he knew it all
He wanted the perfect He wanted the perfect
We long to live in a place
that is free
We live in America land of
the free
but how is this free?
They knocked on our doors They knocked on our doors
We were We were
deported to camps
asked if we believed-
if we denied the church
we were set free-
no one did
My husband was taken to My husband was taken to
work in the fields
the road
set on fire
shot to death
My baby My baby
was taken to the gas chambers
was beaten to death, but
before he died they would
smash his head in
My child My child
sent to the gas chambers
she was too weak
beaten but not killed
so he could remember
I lived through it all I lived through it all
my only question is my only question is

The Ode

The ode is a type of poetry where you are giving praise to a person, object, feeling, place, or anything else you can think of! Usually in an ode, you are directing the poem towards the object, as if talking to it and thanking it.

An example of an ode can be found

The Five W's Poem

Each line of this poem answers on of the W questions (who, what, where, when and why). Each line may be a word, phrase, or clause, but be consistent in choice throughout the five lines. The order of the questions may changed to suit a purpose, to give a more succinct meaning, or in order to impart a more exciting climax.

An example of this poem can be found

The Villanelle

The villanelle is a very difficult form of poetry. It is a highly specialized form and is difficult to write without seeming trite or repetitive. it is a French Verse form with 19 lines divided into 5 tercets and one quatrain. Two rhymes or repeated lines predominate. This often gives the poem a cyclical feeling.


Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying the of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

A very difficult type of poetry indeed, but it can be done!

Hopefully this will help you in writing poetry!