217 Poetry Forms, 217 Ways to Express Yourself

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Here are 217 poetry forms.

From Abecedarian to Madrigal to Zéjel. Go down the poem types rabbit hole all the way here.

So if you want to uncover an extensive selection of poetry types, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s go!

210 Poetry Forms, 210 Ways to Express Yourself (+ Examples!)
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Poet’s Note on Exploring the Depths of Poetry Forms

While the sheer variety of structures, rhyme schemes, meters, and traditional forms associated with poetry may intimidate you, I have some good news that might help you stay motivated. 

Every form, at its core, is just a superficial thing that someone at one point or another made up to challenge themselves.

You also do not need to memorize every single one of them to be a poet. 

The main reason to learn about all the forms out there isn’t so that you’ll remember every single one of them because you most likely won’t.

It’s because researching different forms may give you an idea for a poem that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Also, if you’re the pragmatic type, then there are some bragging rights associated with mastering a few different forms. 

Telling someone that you wrote a best-selling villanelle should fill you with a sense of pride because it’s brutally difficult to write a villanelle, much less a good one.

So with a quiet understanding that you’re probably not going to remember all of these (feel free to favorite the page), let’s discuss some of the many, many different types of poems.


Abecedarian poems consist of verses wherein the first letter of each line is a letter of the alphabet in succession.

Abecedarians are a form of acrostic poetry. They are also called “abecedarius” or an “abecedary.”

As the seasons change, the wind
Blows soft over shifting ocean
Currents, flowing freely
Down old and vacant streets

Early signs of tomorrow
Flowers and leaves, vibrant
Green, gorgeous, and glimmering
Havens of the new dawn

If ever the seasons did stall
Just imagine the chaos, the mourning
Kings and queens grieving
Lost in some eternal stagnation

Most fortunate, then, that such misfortune
Never could be so tightly wound
Obstinate seasons do eventually end
Pushed aside by time’s wheels

Quirky bugs come out of hiding
Released from wherever they were
Slithering snakes reappear from their dens
Tethered to their time

Unbind for me the next season
Virtuous in its brevity
Wise in its mysteries

Xenophobia may love winter
Yet it is spring for whom I pine
Zealous to explore anew


Abstract poetry relies entirely on the sound the poem makes, rather than on the meanings of the individual words.

This is often referred to as the poem’s “aural quality.” For this reason, the genre is sometimes also referred to as sound poetry.

Here’s an excerpt from Blood And The Moon, which was written by the classic poet William Butler Yeats.

It’s an excellent example of abstract poetry.

Excerpt from the Blood and The Moon

Blessed be this place,
More blessed still this tower;
A bloody, arrogant power
Rose out of the race
Uttering, mastering it,
Rose like these walls from these
Storm-beaten cottages –
In mockery I have set
A powerful emblem up,
And sing it rhyme upon rhyme
In mockery of a time
Half dead at the top.

William Butler Yeats


Acrostic poems use the first letter of every line to spell out a word or phrase. 

The word used is often the subject being described by the remainder of the poem. Below is an example that utilizes “Cat” as the word spelled out.

Clawed and sassy
Awesome but nasty
Trying to be flashy

Ae Fraeslighe

The ae fraeslighe is an Irish form of poetry consisting entirely of rhymed quatrains.

It was originally designed for oral traditions and features many of the hallmarks of early poetic design, such as an emphasis on rhyme and rhythm.

In Irish poetry this technique is called dunadh.

Here’s an example, where the intended dunadh is emboldened.

As I walk on hilltops grand,
the sky breathes a good deep blue.
Nearby this place, still cropped land
whispers softly this neat view.

I pause, here on the hill’s peak,
transfixed even as I talk.
If only to hear hills speak,
blessing my ears as I walk.


Alexandrines, in English, are lines of iambic hexameter, but the term actually has a rich and storied history across multiple countries and cultures.

Most alexandrines trace their origins back to the French alexandrine, a 12-syllable line form with two hemistiches (half-lines) that are divided by a caesura (pause).

Below is an example of a poem written in this poem form:

Wherefore my love might be, you’ll surely find me there,
to chase away her fears, to show her that I care,
to blind myself with her; the beauty, grace, and sparks.
O love, my love, for true: You own my soul and heart.


Allegorical poetry refers to any poem in which allegory is a major element, but when calling an entire poem an “allegorical poem” we would usually understand it to mean that the entire poem is an allegory.

Specifically, this means it is a poem with a specific moral, political, or spiritual message as its main purpose.

Here is an example of what that might look like in practice:

Love is simply the water of life,
for in our erstwhile pain and strife
we seek to quench our constant thirst
and, with love, revive from our worst.
And sure, my cup may someday run empty.
It may then need to be refilled.
But then I need only choose to love again,
and gladly, friend, I will.
The same faucet that moves our blood
is just as capable of more.
My heart, my soul, my being is love.
We are love to the very core.


Anagrammatic poetry is a very rare form of poetry in which every line of every stanza is an anagram of all other lines or stanzas in the poem.

An example of an anagram would be “seal” and “sale.” These two words are anagrams of each other because they contain the same four letters.

Below is David Shulman’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, a sonnet that is also written in anagrammatic style.

Washington Crossing the Delaware

A hard, howling, tossing water scene.
Strong tide was washing hero clean.
“How cold!” Weather stings as in anger.
O Silent night shows war ace danger!
The cold waters swashing on in rage.
Redcoats warn slow his hint engage.
When star general’s action wish’d “Go!”
He saw his ragged continentals row.
Ah, he stands – sailor crew went going.
And so this general watches rowing.
He hastens – winter again grows cold.
A wet crew gain Hessian stronghold.
George can’t lose war with’s hands in;
He’s astern – so go alight, crew, and win!

David Shulman

Ars Poetica

Ars Poetica poems represent a declaration of the writer’s beliefs about poetry.

Ars Poetica remains one of the most influential poems in literary history, having been used as a metric by which to measure other poems since the Renaissance.

“Where Is the Poet” is a beautiful example of an ars poetica poem written by Yone Noguchi, the first Japanese poet to ever publish English poetry.

Where Is the Poet

The inky-garmented, truth-dead Cloud—woven by dumb ghost alone in the darkness of
phantasmal mountain-mouth—kidnapped the maiden Moon, silence-faced,
love-mannered, mirroring her golden breast in silvery rivulets:
The Wind, her lover, grey-haired in one moment, crazes around the Universe, hunting
her dewy love-letters, strewn secretly upon the oat-carpets of the open field.
O, drama! never performed, never gossiped, never rhymed!
Behold—to the blind beast, ever tearless, iron-hearted, the Heaven has no mouth to interpret these tidings!
Ah, where is the man who lives out of himself?—the poet inspired often to chronicle these

Yone Noguchi

Arte Mayor

Arte Mayor is a style of poetry that dates back to medieval Spain, specifically around the 14th century.

The form started out with lines that ranged from 8-16 syllables, but gradually got condensed down to 12-syllable lines, usually in octaves.

Sadly the form’s popularity did not persist long, relatively speaking.

Here is an example of Arte Mayor:

From Labrinto de Fortuna

Al muy prepotente don Juan el segundo,
aquel con quien Júpiter tuvo tal zelo
que tanta de parte le fizo del mundo
quanta a sí mesmo se fizo del çielo,
al gran rey de España, al César novelo;
al que con Fortuna es bien fortunado,
aquel en quien caben virtud e reinado;
a él, la rodilla fincado por suelo.

Awdl Gywydd

Awdl gywydd is a style of Irish verse consisting of rhymed quatrains that utilize interlaced couplets.

As with many Irish forms, the style relies heavily on sounds and syllable counts, despite not being a metric poem form.

Irish poetry predates the spread of written language and was a mostly oral tradition for a long span of the region’s history.

The following is a beautiful example of this poem form.

Tonight I tempt fickle fate
coming home late with strangers.
You may think me a dense heel
but I won’t yield to danger.

Many a good night begins
with merry whims such as this.
What sort of man would reject
a chance to accept a kiss?


Ballads are narrative-driven poems, often written to be sung, usually but not always based on folklore. 

Not to be confused with a “ballade” because the English language needs to be confusing and inconvenient, as per usual.

Ballads often feature simple bouncy rhyme schemes.

He stepped upon the ship’s bow,
a feather in his weathered cap,
then danced for seven nights,
to the tune of ’80’s rap.
The kraken found it soothing
and laid down for a nap.


A ballade is a French verse form usually consisting of three main stanzas with eight lines, and an envoi that consists of four lines.

This poem type has several variations including the double ballade, double-refrain, ballade supreme, and chant royal or grand ballade.

To Rosemounde by Geoffrey Chaucer is an excellent example of ballade poetry.

To Rosemounde

A Balade.

Ma dame, ye ben of al beaute shryne
As fer as cercled is the mapamonde;
For as the cristall glorious ye shyne,
And lyke ruby ben your chekys rounde.
Therwyth ye ben so mery and so iocunde
That at a reuell whan that I se you dance,
It is an oynement vnto my wounde,
Thoght ye to me ne do no daliance.

For thogh I wepe of teres ful a tyne,
Yet may that wo myn herte nat confounde;
Your semy voys that ye so small out twyne
Makyth my thoght in ioy and blys habounde.
So curtaysly I go, wyth loue bounde,
That to my self I sey, in my penaunce,
Suffyseth me to loue you, Rosemounde,
Thogh ye to me ne do no daliaunce.

Nas neuer pyk walwed in galauntyne
As I in loue am walwed and iwounde;
For whych ful ofte I of my self deuyne
That I am trew Tristam the secunde.
My loue may not refreyde nor affounde;
I brenne ay in an amorouse plesaunce.
Do what you lyst, I wyl your thral be founde,
Thogh ye to me ne do no daliance.

Geoffrey Chaucer


The Barzelletta was a prominent verse form used by Italian frottola composers (with a frottola being a genre of song that was popular in the late 15th and early 16th centuries).

It should be noted that a barzelletta is more closely related to music than to poetry since it was a form explicitly meant to be used for song lyrics.

Lass at the Bar

She rounds the corner four times more,
her heart to store a man within.
She finds each one to be a bore
and pours another round of gin.
What lucky gent can sway her core?
She goes through four and tries again.


Blackout poetry, also called redacted poetry, is a subgenre of found poetry that relies on the concept of “poetry by subtraction”.

The basic premise behind blackout poetry is taking a preexisting article or excerpt and literally blacking out words.

This is usually done with a marker or similar instrument in order to only leave a poem behind.

Let’s use a paragraph from an article to demonstrate how blackout poems are structured, as an example.

A Blackout Poem

In this case, the rather flowery original text is cut down to a much more concise message that simply tells us to explore blackout poetry, with some words and phrases meant to comment on the strong points of the genre. Longer works offer much more potential for range and for distancing a poem from the original text, so be sure to experiment with different pages and get a feel for what works you like to pull from.

Original Text

In this case, the rather flowery original text is cut down to a much more concise message that simply tells us to explore blackout poetry, with some words and phrases meant to comment on the strong points of the genre. Longer works offer much more potential for range and for distancing a poem from the original text, so be sure to experiment with different pages and get a feel for what works you like to pull from.

Blank Verse

When a poem has a strong meter but no rhyme scheme, it’s considered a “blank verse.”

This title especially applies to poems written in Iambic pentameter. 

William Shakespeare was accredited with waves upon waves of blank verse.

Many of the best examples of blank verse come from Shakespeare’s works, especially Hamlet.

from Hamlet

But, woe is me, you are so sick of late,
So far from cheer and from your former state,
That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.

William Shakespeare


The blitz is a poem form created by Robert Keim.

It consists of a series of fifty very short lines that assault the reader’s senses with abrupt images and thoughts, properly earning the name “blitz.”

Droves and Mayhem is an example of a blitz poem.

Droves and Mayhem

Crowds everywhere
Crowds screaming
Screaming in voices
Screaming in droves
Droves of people
Droves of sheep
Sheep that follow orders
Sheep that march along
Along to nowhere
Along to everywhere
Everywhere but here
Everywhere they can go
Go somewhere else
Go far away
Away to a pasture
Away to the country
Country air and farms
Country people and manners
Manners that delight
Manners that entice
Entice me away from crowds
Entice me to nowhere
Nowhere like home
Nowhere to escape
Escape from the noise
Escape from the chaos
Chaos of the city
Chaos of the sidewalk
Sidewalk full of nonsense
Sidewalk full of ads
Ads that want attention
Ads that steal money
Money we don’t have
Money we need
Need to get away
Need to relax
Relax in a bed
Relax for hours
Hours uninterrupted
Hours of peace
Peace and tea
Peace and hobbies
Hobbies like painting
Hobbies like people watching
Watching the crowds
Watching the mayhem
Mayhem of the streets
Mayhem in the city

Bob and Wheel

The bob and wheel is a very distinctive technique of meter that’s hard to miss, even when reading casually because it forcefully disrupts the flow of the poem at regular intervals.

A wheel is a technique in which the end of each stanza returns to a specific meter, while a bob is a very short line that marks the beginning of the wheel.

Here’s an excerpt of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which features the bob and wheel technique.

from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Ticius to Tuskan and teldes bigynnes,
Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes up homes,
And fer over the French flod Felix Brutus
On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settes
with wynne,
Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi sythes has wont therinne,
And oft bothe blysse and blunder
Ful skete has skyfted synne.

the Pearl Poet


The blues poem is one of the most popular American forms of poetry, with African-American blues tradition roots.

Blues poetry usually takes on darker themes such as despair, struggles, and sex.

While those are seemingly “negative” topics, blues in fact talks about how to overcome struggles with a strong mind and spirit.

Langston Hughes is a big name when it comes to blues poetry, The Weary Blues being one of his notable works.

The Weary Blues

Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
He did a lazy sway . . .
He did a lazy sway . . .
To the tune o’ those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man’s soul.
O Blues!
In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone
I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan—
“Ain’t got nobody in all this world,
Ain’t got nobody but ma self.
I’s gwine to quit ma frownin’
And put ma troubles on the shelf.”

Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more—
“I got the Weary Blues
And I can’t be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And can’t be satisfied—
I ain’t happy no mo’
And I wish that I had died.”
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
He slept like a rock or a man that’s dead.

Langston Hughes


A bop is a 23-line simple poem form featuring refrains written to present a problem, expand on the problem, then offer a solution or failed solution to the problem.

The bop is a poem form that was developed by Afaa Michael Weaver during a poetry summer retreat at Cave Canem.

Below is a bop poem that shows an example of the expected problem, expansion, and solution structure, with this particular poem showcasing a failed solution.

The Grind Kills Me

The sun comes out like he always does
and I shudder in my bed like I always do
because I didn’t volunteer for this
didn’t sign up for waking up
but it never seems like it’s enough.
People always want more every day

and the grind kills me inside.

Get up, go to work, pay bills,
do what you’ve always done
with that plastic smile on your face
that you learned from mom and pop
and the hours roll by, over me,
while the coffee wears off again
but tomorrow’s already on the way
so I work, afraid of tomorrow

and the grind kills me inside.

Say it’s enough, quit your day job,
follow a dream because you can
and ride that rainbow for a while
but it always cycles back again
never makes enough money
because it’s all about the banks

and the grind kills me inside.


The breccbairdne is an Irish verse form consisting of rhymed quatrains.

As with many Irish forms, the breccbairdne is heavily focused on rhyme and rhythm, as Ireland had an extensive history of oral poetry long before written poetry became the norm.

This example below showcases the basic properties of a breccbairdne poem.

Pacing in circles
as the silky lacing
inside her soft stockings
falls behind her pacing.

Bref Double

The bref double is a poem form of French origin, although documentation of this poem type seems sparse.

The rhyme scheme always consists of three end sounds and around five unrhymed lines, but there have been different interpretations of the rhyme scheme aside from these conventions.

The example below follows the definition offered by Writer’s Digest (Brewer’s model).

she hated her old shoes
of such low quality
with small holes in the soles
torturing her soft feet

they were bad for the roads
barely fit for their role
as protectors for toes
woefully incomplete

and she hated them so
they left such a dark bruise
as if to get even
on the uneven street

she would happily use
them in a grill as coal

Breton Lai (Breton Lay)

Breton Lai is just another term used for Lai (Lay).


Bucolic poetry is an uncommon term that can be seen as either a synonym for pastoral poetry or a particular subgenre of pastoral poems.

Bucolic verse, in an old sense of the term, refers specifically to a type of pastoral poem that idealizes rural life not for its humility but as a pastime for the upper class, specifically.

Here’s an example of this poem from:

My tea tastes sweetest on the slopes
of the mountain’s lovely basin,
where my sheep and cows can roam
with nary a moment wasting.

Watch the farmhands do their work,
glistening in the light of achievement.
Look with envy on my ivory porch,
free of any and all bereavements.

This, to me, is grandest luxury,
my life here on grasses green.
Retire with me to the countryside
and you’ll know just what I mean.

Byr a Thoddaid

Byr a Thoddaid is one of the many traditional Welsh poem forms that feature quatrains and rhyme.

As with many Welsh forms, Byr a Thoddaid consists entirely of quatrains and can be as long as the poet wills it to be, simply by expanding the number of quatrains in the poem.

The following example features the 8/8 couplet, with the expected AA rhyme scheme.

Where there grows greenest grass I live,
enamored by all nature gives.
These are places to help survive the toil,
the toll we pay to thrive.

I do not begrudge hardened days,
for I can smile again, always,
as long as green grass will await my feet,
to treat a cozy fate.


Casbairdne, like many Irish poem forms, refers to a verse comprised of rhymed quatrains.

Casbairdne was conceptualized at a time when oral traditions were still the norm and as such focuses heavily on sound and rhyme, which were used to make poems easier for reciters to remember.

This example below is an attempt at casbairdne, focused intently on the sounds rather than the meaning.

Lamented for days untainted
a faint loving so cemented
in the mind more dear enchanted
gladly said or laid lamented


The cascade poem is a new type of poetry invented in 2007 by Udit Bhatia.

It gets its name from the way the poem is meant to ‘cascade’ down the page, using each line of the first stanza as refrains, therefore, creating a waterfall cascade effect.

While cascade poems have a relatively simple structure that only relies on refrains, the form has already been imitated many times over.

Rain Falls in the Forest is a beautiful example of a cascade poem.

Rain Falls in the Forest

The rain falls in the forest tonight
silencing all beasts within
like the whisper of a goddess.

Not a single creature dares to stir
nor hunt nor play nor fight for
the rain falls in the forest tonight.

There is a hush that comes along
the patience of the rising mist
silencing all the beasts within.

Peace has been gently breathed
over every hill and leaf
like the whisper of a goddess.

Catena Rondo

The catena rondo is a stanzaic form invented in the 20th century by Robin Skelton, of Canada.

It consists entirely of quatrains and makes liberal use of repeated lines, similar in nature to the pantoum, though with a different execution.

The most impressive element of the catena rondo is its obsessive use of refrains and rhyme.

Here’s an example of a catena rondo.

Where the sky does drink of stars
there exists a certain peace,
as if to give a life new lease,
where the sky does drink of stars.

There exists a certain peace
beneath a vast speckled sky
underneath stars so high.
There exists a certain peace.

Beneath a vast speckled sky
I look for some time to rest,
some reward for doing my best
beneath a vast speckled sky.

I look for some time to rest
where the sky does drink of stars
as I wonder where you are,
I look for some time to rest.

Where the sky does drink of stars
there exists a certain peace.
I hope the moment will not cease
where the sky does drink of stars.


The cento, also known as patchwork poem, is one of the oldest forms of found poetry, tracing its origins all the way back to ancient Rome.

As a matter of fact, cento is from a Latin term that means “patchwork garment“.

Below is a cento sourced from Fire and Ice by Robert Frost, Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe, Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas, and They are all Gone into the World of Light by Henry Vaughan.

Some say the world will end in fire,
in a kingdom by the sea.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
Their very memory is fair and bright.

Cethramtu Rannaigechta Moire

The cethramtu rannaigechta moire is an Irish verse form consisting of quatrains.

Like many Celtic quatrain-based forms, the actual poem can be as long or as short as the poet desires.

The important thing is that it consists entirely of quatrains, with no definitive limit to how many quatrains are allowed.

Deepest Seas is an example of this Irish poem form.

Deepest Seas

Deepest seas
roll and roil
likely caught
on old soil.

Ship sails south
across waves
oft hoping
they’ll behave.

I’m waiting
with the breeze
up above
deepest seas.

Chance Operations

Chance operations describe any method of creating poetry that is not dependent on the author’s own choices.

They generate poetry that is quite literally “left to chance” using methods like rolling dice or tossing a coin.

Chance operations poems use texts sourced from famous literary sources such as magazines and articles.

Here’s an example of a poem created using the chance operations technique, via a word generator.

An absurd haiku

wood edge crayon lick
eat fuzzy judge sisters ring
rough pleasure vex last


Chansos, also known as canso, canzo, or canson, are an interesting twist on what we normally expect from formal poetry in that they afford some flexibility to the writer.

It should be noted that the chanso has some significant overlap with other forms, due to its natural flexibility.

The rhyme schemes, in particular, tend to be similar to ballads.

Below is a chanso titled Can vei la lauzeta mover, which is written by Bernart de Ventadorn.

From Can vei la lauzeta mover

Pus ab midons no.m pot valer
Precs ni merces ni.l dreihz qu’eu ai,
Ni a leis no ven a plazer
Qu’eu l’am, ja mais no.lh o dirai.
Aissi.m part de leis e.m recre!
Mort m’a, e per mort li respon ,
E vau m’en, pus ilh no.m rete,
Chaitius, en issilh, no sai on.

Tristans, ges no.n auretz de me,
Qu’eu m’en vau, chaitius, no sai on.
De chantar me gic e.m recre,
E de joi e d’amor m’escon.

Bernart de Ventadorn


The chant is a poem form that uses repetition as the only technique used.

By juxtaposing repetition with sections that aren’t repeated, a chant becomes rhythmic even without extensive use of rhyme or meter, just by virtue of the repeated words and phrases.

Here’s an example of a chant:

We look to the stars.
We look to the seas.
We look to the earth.
We long to be free.

We walk past shores.
We walk past trees.
We walk past mountains.
We long to be free.

Chant Royal

Chant royal is a fixed verse form that was developed in Medieval France.

The Chant Royal is one of many complex French fixed forms of poetry, consisting of a strict rhyme scheme and a refrain repeated at the end of every verse.

The following example showcases only the first verse of a Chant Royal. All verses aside from the envoi will follow the same rhyme scheme and structure.

First Verse of a Chant Royal

Beneath the skies
I wait, sleeping,
my weary eyes
only keeping
glimpses of gold,
glittering, cold,
addicting me
to what I see,
for somewhere here,
treasures may be.
I sense them near.


The chastushka is a type of humorous short poem that was especially popular during the late 19th century and early 20th century in Russia.

Similar in nature to the limerick, they’re rhymed quatrains containing humorous and often vulgar or lewd subject matter.

Political chastushki have been surprisingly common.

Here is an example of a Chastushka poem:

Even gleeful mockingbirds in
trees and boughs laugh harshly at him,
leashed, collared, by lady Mary,
oh, how proper, bold, and scary!


The Japanese choka (literally “long poem”) is a form of poetry that utilizes an alternating syllable structure (5-7-5-7, etc.).

The length of the poem is indefinite, with each couplet usually being designed to be self-contained.

They tend to end with a final isosyllabic couplet that has a 7-7 syllable structure.

Below is an example of what a choka poem looks like:

seashells on the sand
command attention from kids
gathering them fast
to show them off to parents
splashing through water
snatch, snatch, turn around, and look
one big and one small
and several too broken
and still we chase them
sand dollars, conches, clamshells
all trying to find
the best and biggest trophy
to prove that we tried
and that we were here today
jar of seashells on the shelf
memories of where we’ve been


A cinquain is a five-line poem, though it can also refer to a five-line stanza.

There are many varieties of cinquain (crown cinquain, didactic cinquain, American cinquain). 

Still, the bottom line is that they’re all variations of a five-line poem. The form was initially inspired by Japanese haikus.

Crapsey’s November Night is a classic example of an American cinquain.

November Night

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

Adelaide Crapsey


The clerihew is a four-line autobiographical poem invented by English poet Edmund Clerihew Bentley right at the beginning of the 20th century.

They utilize a simple AABB rhyme scheme to present famous or historical figures in mundane, anachronistic, or absurd situations.

Below is an example of a clerihew poem.

Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.


The clogyrnach is a Welsh poem form that combines different syllable counts with a two-sound rhyme scheme for a uniquely structured poem.

Clogyrnachs are one of the 24 codified Welsh meters, being a member of the Awdl family of poems.

Like other Welsh forms, clogyrnachs were originally intended for oral recitation.

For a Guardsman is a nice example of a clogyrnachs.

For a Guardsman

I know you love to receive cards
and hope your work with the town guards
will not this day end,
my beloved friend,
so I send my regards.


Concrete poetry is an experimental type of poetry in which the words are arranged on the page so that they form a simple shape or image.

This may even involve tilting or resizing the words occasionally.

A square is perhaps,
I think, the most dull
example I could use,
yet here it is for you
to so quietly peruse,
if you do so choose.
A square is perhaps,
I think, the most dull
example I could use,
yet here it is for you
to so quietly peruse,
if you do so choose.


Confessional poetry, hailing from 20th century America, is a style of poetry in which the personal traumas of the writer (or other deeply personal experiences) are front and center.

The form can vary wildly, but they are ultimately an exercise in revealing one’s personal narrative through poetry.

Here is an example of a Confessional poem:

from The Operation by Anne Sexton

After the sweet promise,
the summer’s mild retreat
from mother’s cancer, the winter months of her death,
I come to this white office, its sterile sheet,
its hard tablet, its stirrups, to hold my breath
while I, who must, allow the glove its oily rape,
to hear the almost mighty doctor over me equate
my ills with hers
and decide to operate.


Contrapuntal poetry explores the idea of combining two poems in some way to create a third poem out of their shared concepts or pieces.

While they are made up of two or more distinct poems, contrapuntal poetry is done by clever formatting so that they are in conversation with each other.

The word “contrapuntal” simply means counterpoint, speaking to the interactive nature of contrapuntal music and poetry.

Below is a contrapuntal that generates a “poetic duet” so that it creates a conversation between the two poems.

There was once a sort of logic to our lives
Logic never factored in for me
Everything was simple and we thrived
I was distracted by love, you see
Now a muddled chaos keeps us apart
At long last my voice is free
All because you voiced your heart
I shouted, hoping you’d find me
And now the logic is no longer alive
I await the answer that needs to be

Cro Cumaisc Etir Casbairdni Ocus Lethrannaigecht

Cro cumaisc etir casbairdni ocus lethrannaigecht is an Irish verse form based on rhymed quatrains.

Despite the intimidating name, this is actually not an incredibly complex poem form.

The CCECOL is unique in its execution to the extent that the syllable counts complicate the form a bit, but I would otherwise argue that this is one of the easiest of all Irish verse forms.

Here’s a beautiful CCECOL poem example:

Beneath the Rainbow

Beneath the rainbow’s shimmering
I thought I did see
just the faintest glimmering
of gold coins for me.

A snake closely slithering
to where it would be
left me poor and simmering.
Those coins remain free.


The crystalline is a different take on the haiku, redesigned with a western audience in mind.

This poem form consists of a grammatically correct couplet restricted to 17 syllables, which ‘cuts’ from one train of thought or perspective to another one to simulate the Japanese concept of the kireji (literally “cutting word.”)

Here is an example of a poem written in the Crystalline form:

In darkest days I dare to dream
that light lives on; fighting blight with right.

Curtal Sonnet

The curtal sonnet is an eleven-line poem, essentially designed as a condensed form of the Petrarchan sonnet.

The form was invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 19th-century English poet, though he only used it for three of his poems.

Pied Beauty is a beautiful example of a curtal sonnet, which is written by Gerard Manley Williams.

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Gerard Manley Williams


Cut-up poetry, also called découpé poems, is a poetic form that is literally constructed out of clippings that have been cut up and reassembled into a poem.

Cut-up poems are not especially common and rarely find mainstream success, but they can be a fun exercise for both new and experienced poets.

As an example, let’s assemble words pulled out from this description to create a poem.

constructed out of clippings
into a poem
rarely find
but they can be a fun exercise
experienced poets

Cyhydedd Fer

A cyhydedd fer is a special type of couplet used commonly in the codified Welsh forms.

Specifically, it consists of eight syllables in each line and has an AA rhyme scheme.

This example below uses the cyhydedd fer as the format, with a very slight twist.

With just eight sounds per line to use
you must carefully, calmly choose
so as to never miss a beat.
Make sure that two rhymes always meet
within the couplets you prepare.
This is how poets prove they care.

Cyhydedd Hir

Cyhydedd hir is a Welsh verse form that consists of 19 syllables per verse divided up into four rhyming units.

The last unit of a cyhydedd hir verse will set up a rhyme for the next verse, meaning that this is a form that cannot be achieved in a single-verse poem.

A Lost Tourist is a simple cyhydedd hir using only two verses, effectively the minimum that the poem can consist of.

A Lost Tourist

The ship has set sail
and though I may wail
‘tis to no avail.
I slept past dawn.

On some far off shore
when they start the tour,
they’ll see me no more,
for I am gone.

Cyhydedd Naw Ban

Cyhydedd naw ban is one of the easiest of the codified Welsh forms to work with, being simply comprised of nine-syllable rhyming couplets.

Like the rest of the codified Welsh forms, cyhydedd naw ban is focused mostly on making the poem pleasing to the ear, though in this case it only employs rhyme and syllable counts to do so.

Here is an example of a six-line cyhydedd naw ban poem:

Deep in an old forest somewhere near,
I wonder if you’ve ever been here,
but as I travel the path through green,
I think that surely you’ve never seen
half as lovely a calm place as this
in which to share a clandestine kiss.

Cyrch a Chwta

The cyrch a chwta is one of the 24 codified Welsh meters, and one of the longest of the 24 since its most basic unit is the octave (an eight-line stanza).

It is a combination of an isosyllabic sixain and an awdl gywydd couplet, totaling 56 syllables divided up across eight lines.

The form relies exclusively on syllable counts and rhyme, including a single cross-rhyme near the end, to create rhythm.

Here’s a beautiful example of this Welsh poetic form.

Somewhere in the lofty sky,
beyond where even birds fly
there’s an unfound place that I
will someday surely make my
home. No fall shall make me cry
for so long as I can try,
I will one day find my wings.
This truth rings down from on high.

Cywydd Deuair Hirion

The cywydd deuair hirion or the “long-lined couplet” is a Welsh verse form comprised entirely of couplets.

Be careful not to confuse this form with the similarly named cywydd deuair fyrion, another Welsh couplet form with an even simpler structure. This is by far the most common cywydd.

This poem below, while a six-line stanza, is written in cywydd deuair hirion form.

Let Her Be

She may never be with me
but I shall not be petty.
It is best to let her be
if my lover won’t marry.
Perhaps later we might see
a future where we’re happy.

Cywydd Heuair Fyrion

The cywydd heuair fyrion is a Welsh verse form consisting entirely of couplets that contain rhymed four-syllable lines.

It is not to be confused with the cywydd heuair hirion, another couplet form consisting of seven-syllable lines.

Below is a poem titled Tomorrow, is a poetic verse that follows the standards set out for a cywydd heuair fyrion.


A soft light blinks
as we all think
about the day
that passed away.

Today is gone
but a new dawn
shall rise anew
for me and you.

I hope to grin
with you again
as we welcome
another sun.

Cywydd Llosgyrnog

The cywydd llosgyrnog is one of the 24 codified Welsh meters.

It’s based on sixains (six-line stanzas) utilizing end rhymes and cross-rhymes as the most notable techniques.

A poem written in cywydd llosgyrnog can be longer than six lines as long as each verse is a sixain following the expected rules of the form.

Watching the Mushrooms is an example written in this form:

Watching the Mushrooms

Humble mushrooms grow great and small,
sometimes supple and sometimes tall.
From my wall, I watch them go,
wondering how they taste sometimes.
I bet they’re secretly sublime.
I can’t climb, so I don’t know.


Dadaism was an artistic movement that cropped up around World War I as a rejection of the elitism, industrialism, and patriotism that Dadaists felt was responsible for the war.

Dada poetry is a poetic form that follows the traditions of the Dadaist movement, though modern Dadaist poetry has moved away from the original purpose of the movement as an anti-war statement.

These poems are usually made utilizing random chance, such as pulling words out of a sack, tossing a random assortment of newspaper clippings onto a table, etc.

Here’s an example of a dadaist poem.

hospitality burrito

gear shift, minister discreet
herd; aquarium complication reduction grass
sentiment pigeon smooth! bride


The dansa is an Occitan form (meaning it’s from a region right at the border of France and Spain).

It features no particular meter, though it does utilize refrains and rhyme scheme.

Here’s an example that showcases the features of a dansa:

My Shadow Chases Me

My shadow chases me everywhere.
I do not mind his presence though
as he’s the nearest friend I know.
I think he probably really cares.
My shadow chases me everywhere.

Wherever I may ever go
he’s right behind me, blow for blow.
He likes to linger on the stairs.
My shadow chases me everywhere.

I continue to change and grow,
dressed up nice from head to toe.
He is instead just dark and bare.
My shadow chases me everywhere.

His expressions will never ever show
and I wonder if he’s friend or foe.
He’s both brother and nightmare.
My shadow chases me everywhere.

Faceless, featureless, black as a crow.
Always, always following in tow.
I’ve started to fear his eyeless stare.
My shadow chases me everywhere.

Deachnadh Cummaisc

Deachnadh cummaisc is an Irish verse form employing rhymed quatrains.

It is similar to the similarly named deachnadh mor, but the two should not be confused as the syllable counts and underlying expectations for the forms are different.

As with most Celtic forms, the emphasis is on how the poems sounds rather than on how it looks.

Here below is a beautiful example of this poem form:

Fair fan blows like a soft tempest,
kissing the air,
billowing out in a torrent,
its breath spent fair.

Deachnadh Mor

The deachnadh mor is an Irish verse form utilizing quatrains with alternating rhyme schemes.

The poem heavily emphasizes phonetic techniques that were popular among the form’s contemporaries, such as alliteration and cross-rhymes.

Here’s our attempt at writing a deachnadh mor.

Let my paintbrush polish feelings
unsealing eyes clouded,
leaving laymen weeping, reeling,
gently, rudely routed.

Coat the canvas with my embers!
I clamber and relish
in my movements, deftly limber.
Let my paintbrush polish.

Deibide Baise Fri Toin

The deibide baise fri toin is a rather unusual Irish verse form that utilizes four-line units (quatrains) with an imbalanced set of syllable counts in the pattern of 3/7/7/1, organized into rhymed couplets (AABB rhyme scheme).

This makes for a poem that is visually unorthodox and asymmetrical in its structure, but that’s part of the charm of the form.

Here’s an example of this unique form.

I bury
my dreams except to marry
the humble, beautiful Ann.
for happy
times ahead with this sappy
fool following beside you,
My dearest.
I will bring out your clearest
smile, if any lover can,


A décima is a form that is strictly ten lines of poetry.

If the sonnet is largely known for the Elizabethan structure popularized by Shakespeare, then the counterpart for the décima would undoubtedly be the décima espinela, popularized by Vicente Espinel.

Below is a poem that showcases the basic rhyme scheme of the décima espinela:

Today Falls Away

Today falls away but I pray
tomorrow brings more to embrace
worthy of a permanent space
in my young heart where love can stay
as I mourn soft the fading day.
Let this moment that falls off fast
be proof that a second can last
if only you would have it live
for as long as a heart can give
decades after it joins the past.


The descort was a type of Old Occitan lyric poetry that was used by the troubadours, who are poets of the High Middle Ages.

One of the most unusual features of the poem is its unique theming.

Rather than being about a typical theme like courtly romance or heroism, descorts were specifically popular as a means to express disagreement.

In My Dreams is a simple but beautiful poem in descort style.

In My Dreams

In my dreams
where chaotic nightmares roam
bleeding; bruised; broken
I challenge fear alone,
but then when I once again awaken
I find myself
no longer so far taken.
For there are allies here, amidst the waking
who can keep me
from my lonely shaking.


The diamante (Spanish for “diamond”) is quite literal in that it’s just a diamond-shaped poem in which the first and last lines have the least words (one each) and the center line has the most (four).

There are rules regarding the contents of each line, with some mild variations on those rules.

Here is an example of this poem form:

vast, blue
ebbing, flowing, curling
shorelines, reflections, waves, salt
swimming, spreading, swirling
endless, deep

Diminishing Verse

The diminishing verse is a unique poem form in that it technically only has one stipulation.

The end word of each line will “shrink” by a letter or a sound with each line, depending on the poet’s interpretation of the form.

These poems are commonly written in tercets, stanzas with three lines each.

Here is an example of a poem written in the diminishing verse structure:

Trim and a Shear

A man can call himself rather smart
if he turns raw materials from the mart
into a meaningful work of art.

It may take a quick trim and a shear
but soon you will be sure to hear
news of his work as it reaches your ear.


Dizains, despite having similar features to many popular English forms, are fairly uncommon in terms of popular usage.

The word “dizain” comes from Old French and translates to “tenth part.”

As the name would imply, dizains are ten-line poems that usually consist of exactly ten syllables per line.

Upon those Seas, is a basic example of a dizain poem.

Upon those Seas

On seas that shake a ship from bow to stern,
a sailor worth his salt will not be tossed.
His pay upon those seas will be well-earned,
so long as ship and crew are not both lost.
So listen well ye sailors to your boss.
Good captains do not yield upon such seas,
so diligent and stubborn proud are we.
Fear not each wave that licks our weary heels.
Obey the orders as they fall to thee.
Be swift of foot and sturdy, strong as steel.


The dodoitsu is a form of Japanese poetry originating from around the end of the Edo Period (so roughly the 1800s).

It uses a moraic structure of 7-7-7-5 with no rhyme.

Morae are essentially spoken units, similar in principle to our conceptualization of syllables.

Here’s an English take on a dodoitsu.

Mists formed up from recent rain
swirl and twirl into thin air
floating away with dawn’s light
ascending like stars.


A doha is a specific type of rhyming couplet unique to Indian poetry and its local languages.

This self-contained couplet written in Mātrika meter is common to poetry written in Hindustani and Urdu, languages of the northern and southern regions of India, respectively.

Below is a poem titled The Bear, which is written in the doha format:

The Bear
written as a doha

Deep in forests I used to frequent lives a great bear,
bereft of reason or mercy or patience.

He awaits those bold fools who would trespass to his lair,
ready to rend them down for their invasion.

Double Dactyl

The double dactyl, as its name would imply, is a verse form consisting of two verses written mostly in dactylic meter.

The form was invented by Anthony Hecht, John Hollander, and Paul Rascal, first appearing in 1951.

Double dactyls utilize rarely used meters.

Below is an example of a double dactyl written by John Hollander.

Higgledy Piggledy

Higgledy piggledy,
Benjamin Harrison,
Twenty-third president
Was, and, as such,

Served between Clevelands and
Save for this trivial
Didn’t do much.

John Hollander

Dramatic Monologue

A dramatic monologue is a poetic type that is in the form of a speech. It tends to be “dramatic” because of its theatrical feature.

Dramatic monologues are used by poets to express a point of view through the words of a solitary character.

Below is an excerpt from Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess, which is a perfect example of a dramatic monologue.

My Last Duchess

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will ‘t please you sit and look at her? I said
‘Frà Pandolf’ by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ‘t was not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say, ‘Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,’ or ‘Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat:’ such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ‘t was all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool

Robert Browning


The droighneach is a Gaelic verse form that’s relatively unheard of in English.

It consists of quatrains in which each line is 9-13 syllables, with alternating rhyme and a scattering of techniques thrown in that are definitive of Irish poetry.

The form’s difficulty has earned it the informal nickname ‘the thorny.’

The Rioters is a poem that tries to bring together the elements of a droighneach.

The Rioters

Poisonous pillagers wander past,
last to lament the ill-fortuned dead.
They tread tired down roads so awful vast
all cast quiet against streets of red.

Survival is salvaged by the horns,
torn from women and men in mourning,
rioters wryly scorning those born

Echo Verse

The echo verse follows an incredibly simple concept in which the last syllable of each line is repeated as an echo.

This generally requires the poem to be performed out loud to achieve the full effect.

Echo verse was rather popular in the 16th and 17th centuries and saw experimentation within other genres that were popular at the time (such as pastoral poetry).

Here’s an example of an echo verse:

Find Me In

I cannot ever find
the better part of me
within the space within
each and every one of these
shapes and shades and lines


Ekphrastic poetry is a written expression of a visual form of art.

In ancient Greece, they use the ekphrasis technique to write about or verbalize momentous events, history, or a work of art.

Ekphrastic poems are quite vivid and imaginative, like “painting art with words”.

Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess is a perfect example of ekphrastic poetry.

It’s a poem that is based on historical events involving the Duke of Ferrara.

from My Last Duchess

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will ‘t please you sit and look at her? I said
‘Frà Pandolf’ by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ‘t was not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say, ‘Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,’ or ‘Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat:’ such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ‘t was all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool

Robert Browning


An elegy doesn’t have particular rules, typically. It is written following a person’s death to honor them or the subject of loss of life itself.

Elegies often have a melancholic tone lamenting a deceased person’s life, usually ending in consolation.

One of the more popular examples is Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam.

excerpt from In Memoriam

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made…

Alfred Lord Tennyson


An endecha is a type of Spanish dirge or song of lament originating from the 16th century.

The form relies on rhymed quatrains, usually with an uneven structure centered on lines with seven and eleven syllables, though a variant does exist that uses isosyllabic six-syllable lines instead.

Here is an example of an endecha:

The Barmaid’s Passing

Her eyes were the deepest blue
that any good man has seen,
yet now I lay here wailing
because they will never wink at me again.

Her voice stroked like a soft song
‘gainst the canyons of the ear.
But now we can but lament
for her music. It lingers no longer here.

She was the moon and the stars
and everything grand beyond.
We’ll remember her always,
but our night sky is already dead and gone.

Englyn Byr Crwca

Englyn Byr Crwca is an interesting take on the Englyn is essentially a shuffled Englyn Penfyr.

The same three line lengths and structures are here, but this time the seven-syllable line is first, the ten-syllable line is second, and the shortest line (five or six syllables) is last.

Also known as the “short crooked Englyn.”

Shuffle it up, make it new.
So much to go see and do on the way.
Hooray for me and you.

Englyn Cil-Dwrn

Englyn Cil-Dwrn is one isn’t well-documented in English but from what I can tell it appears to be an Englyn Penfyr with a much shorter third line.

Instead of the usual seven-syllable line at the end, we end up with a line of one, two, or three syllables.

As with the last few entries, this one didn’t make the cut for the 24 codified meters.

At long last we’re done, or for now at least,
and we’ll end this list now
with a bow.

Englyn Cyrch

With Englyn Cyrch we return to isosyllabic seven-syllable lines.

This particular form is almost identical to the Englyn Gwastad, but the third line rhymes with a middle syllable of the final line instead of being incorporated into a monorhyme.

Also known as the “two-rhyme Englyn.”

Interestingly, this form is included in the codified Welsh meters while the Englyn Gwastad, despite being very similar, is not.

Perhaps this one just got to the party first?

So much like all the others
but then again they’re brothers
so of course they step and hike
all just like one another.

Englyn Gwastad

If the Englyn Unodl Union is the evolved form of the Englyn Penfyr, then the Englyn Gwastad is the evolved form of the Englyn Milwr.

As before, we simply add one seven-syllable line that rhymes with the rest.

Thus we get a pleasantly symmetrical poem.

Also known as the “even Englyn.”

This particular Englyn is more common in the Middle Ages and fell out of favor afterward.

Make sure these rhymes here are loud.
Only true rhyme is allowed,
so stand up high, tall, and proud,
as you recite for the crowd.

Englyn Lleddfbroest

Englyn Lleddfbroest is functionally an Englyn Proest Dalgron, except that the rhymes must feature the ae, ei, oe, and wy diphthongs.

Also known as the “half-rhymed diphthong Englyn.”

In addition to being one of the funniest sounding words in any language, diphthong also means a combination of two back-to-back vowel sounds.

Englyn Milwr

Englyn Milwr is similar to its sibling form, the Englyn Penfyr, in terms of length and rhyme scheme but it values consistency.

Instead of having three lines of different lengths, this form has three isosyllabic lines (lines of the same length).

Each line is seven syllables and all three lines feature end-rhymes.

Also known as the “soldier’s Englyn.”

March and amass in the fields,
show the vast power we wield.
Do not despair. Do not yield.

Englyn Penfyr

Englyn Penfyr is a sub-form, along with the Englyn Milwyr, are among the oldest and can be traced back to some of the oldest surviving Welsh poems from the Y Cynfeirdd era around the end of the 11th century.

Also known as the “short-ended Englyn.”

This form is always three lines.

The first line is ten syllables, split into two five-syllable sections, while the second line is either five or six syllables.

The last line is consistently seven syllables.

An English version; like this if you please
may give a little bliss,
like a poet’s gentle kiss.

Englyn Proest Cadwynog

With Englyn Proest Cadwynog the second and fourth lines are half-rhymes while the first and third lines share a true rhyme with each other.

Also known as the “chain half-rhyme Englyn.”

Are you weary of these yet?
Do they echo in your head?
You’ll not quite recall, I bet,
since the scope leans toward heft.

Englyn Proest Cyfnewidiog

Englyn Proest Cyfnewidiog is yet another isosyllabic four-line poem with seven syllables each.

Like the Englyn Proest Dalgron, this one features half-rhymes on every line.

The only distinction I’ve been able to find is that this sub-form features “more instances of cynghanedd” supposedly, but that’s an incredibly vague measurement.

This sub-form didn’t make it into the codified Welsh meters, and frankly it’s easy to guess why.

Englyn Proest Dalgron

The Englyn Proest Dalgron is literally the same as the Englyn Gwastad, except that the rhymes are half-rhymes.

In Welsh examples this usually involves consonance, but I’ll be using an English understanding of slant rhyme for the example.

Also known as the “half-rhymed Englyn.”

Evenly spaced little lines.
Nothing simpler shall you find.
Short like all its other kinds,
but it’s still well worth the time.

Englyn Toddaid

The first half of Englyn Toddaid seems to come from the first two lines of the Englyn Penfyr (ten syllables followed by a five or six syllable line), while the latter half of the form is a Toddaid couplet.

While this one didn’t make it into the codified Welsh meters either, the reality is that this particular Englyn didn’t emerge until after those 24 meters had been decided upon, keeping in mind that the list hasn’t been updated in centuries.

Englyn Unodl Crwca

The Englyn Unodl Crwca is essentially an Englyn Byr Crwca with an extra seven-syllable line, though it’s added to the beginning of the form this time.

Also known as the “crooked one-line Englyn.”

Longer now than what came last
but we’ll go over it fast
and arrive again at the vast new ground
we found there as we passed.

Englyn Unodl Union

Despite the very different name, Englyn Unodl Union is just an Englyn Penfyr with an additional seven-syllable line at the end.

Just like the second and third lines, it rhymes with a sound near the end of the first line.

As a result, the poem just happens to end in an isosyllabic couplet.

Also known as the “straight one-rhymed Englyn.”

Give me a flower to know you by name,
else your love is nay true.
The pinkest petals will do,
and I’ll truly love you, too.


Epic poems are poems of monumental length and scope, often detailing lengthy narratives about ancient heroes as they fought against mythical creatures, enemy warriors, and impossible odds. 

Epic poems have a great many conventions unique to the form.

Still, the central theme of the “hero’s journey” is the most defining feature of any epic.

Examples include Gilgamesh and Homer’s Odyssey.

Epics were traditionally told orally and passed down from one poet to the next, rather than being penned out. 

While epic poetry is extremely important to the history of poetry as a form of public entertainment, it’s not nearly as popular in the modern era.

Copies of Homer’s works are still sold regularly, of course, but largely for academic purposes.

excerpt from Iliad

Ye kings and warriors! may your vows be crown’d, And Troy’s proud walls lie level with the ground. May Jove restore you when your toils are o’er Safe to the pleasures of your native shore. But, oh! relieve a wretched parent’s pain, And give Chryseis to these arms again; If mercy fail, yet let my presents move, And dread avenging Phoebus, son of Jove.



An epigram is a very short poem, usually no longer than a quatrain, that often contains a witty little instance of rhyme.

They can even be as short as one line, such as “Let desire stoke your fire” or “I gladly invite all of your spite.”

Yes, a poem can be a single line. Have I mentioned yet that poetry largely doesn’t really have clearly defined rules?

Oscar Wilde, for example, definitely made a brief yet memorable statement when he said:

I can resist everything but temptation.

Oscar Wilde


Epistolary poetry is a letter in either poem or prose form.

These literary letters are addressed to a particular person or group.

Epistles date back to the Roman Empire and later on popularized by Horace and Ovid.

The Letter from Town: The Almond Tree by D. H. Lawrence is a beautiful epistolary poem.

Letter from Town: The Almond Tree

You promised to send me some violets. Did you forget?
White ones and blue ones from under the orchard hedge?
Sweet dark purple, and white ones mixed for a pledge
Of our early love that hardly has opened yet.

Here there’s an almond tree—you have never seen
Such a one in the north—it flowers on the street, and I stand
Every day by the fence to look up for the flowers that expand
At rest in the blue, and wonder at what they mean.

Under the almond tree, the happy lands
Provence, Japan, and Italy repose,
And passing feet are chatter and clapping of those
Who play around us, country girls clapping their hands.

You, my love, the foremost, in a flowered gown,
All your unbearable tenderness, you with the laughter
Startled upon your eyes now so wide with hereafter,
You with loose hands of abandonment hanging down.

D. H. Lawrence


An epitaph is a short poem specifically written to be placed on a gravestone.

They can be respectful, like an elegy, or even humorous if it’s believed that that’s what the deceased would’ve wanted. 

Whether you believe humorous epitaphs to be uncalled for or not is naturally up to personal taste.

Walter de la Mare in “An Epitaph” speaks about life as a passing beauty that vanishes no matter how rare it may be.

An Epitaph

Here lies a most beautiful lady:
Light of step and heart was she;
I think she was the most beautiful lady
That ever was in the West Country.
But beauty vanishes; beauty passes;
However rare—rare it be;
And when I crumble, who will remember
This lady of the West Country?

Walter de la Mare


The word “epithalamion” is commonly understood to reference a poem honoring a wedding day, wedding ceremony, or bride-to-be (or some combination of the three).

While the modern term is a little ambiguous, the term traces its roots to a Greek poem form meant for the bride on the way to her marital chamber.

Below is an example of an epithalamion:

from Epithalamion
by Edmund Spenser

Wake, now my love, awake; for it is time,
The Rosy Morne long since left Tithones bed,
All ready to her silver coche to clyme,
And Phoebus gins to shew his glorious hed.
Hark how the cheerefull birds do chaunt theyr laies
And carroll of loves praise.


Erasure poetry is a subgenre of found poetry in which the words from a text or article are erased, with a whiteout or something similar, in order to only leave behind the words meant to be part of a poem.

This is one method for creating poetry through subtraction.

It can be argued that erasure poetry and blackout poetry are ultimately the same subgenres or that they are at least two sides of the same coin.

Below is an example of an erasure poem:

Erasure Poem

An erasure poem is a chance to explore the way you interpret the words of others. We normally see every word on the page in perfect order, never wondering what messages might be hidden in the random combinations of words upon the page. While it might be hard to find your sense of ownership in someone else’s words, it will be engaging to look for it and to push the limits of what simply erasing a few words can do.

Original Text

An erasure poem is a chance to explore the way you interpret the words of others. We normally see every word on the page in perfect order, never wondering what messages might be hidden in the random combinations of words upon the page. While it might be hard to find your sense of ownership in someone else’s words, it will be engaging to look for it and to push the limits of what simply erasing a few words can do.


The décima espinela is a poem written in ten-line verses utilizing isosyllabic rhymed lines.

This variant of the décima was invented by Vicente Espinela, whose name lives on in the name of the poem, much like how we refer to sonnets as ‘Shakespearean’ or ‘Petrarchan.’

Here’a an example of espinela:


I think often of her black hair
as it flows while she walks away
with not a word more left to say
nor any real reason left to care;
She was eager to leave me there
without anyone left to love
for she had already had enough
of living out her life with me
wanting only now to be free.
It is her I’m still thinking of.


The Fibonacci poem, also known as Fib, is a type of short experimental poem based on the Fibonacci sequence.

It has been compared to the haiku as a short poem with specific syllable counts on each line.

No meter or rhyme scheme is generally employed since only the syllable counts of each line are important to the structure.

Here’s a quick example:

in this
waiting room
unable to leave
until after I have been seen.


The flamenca is a stanzaic verse form inspired chiefly by flamenco dancing.

It’s ultimately a shorter version of the seguidilla and is sometimes called the seguidilla gitana.

Flamenca poems consist of cinquains with a 6/6/5/6/6 syllable structure and assonance on the second and fifth lines.

The following poem is an example of this poetic form.

Dizzy Nights

The night screams out laughter
as a trance hits the room
and we lose our minds
to gin and sin, spinning
as the dance lifts the gloom.

She twirls in red and heels,
swirling around the floor
while we all mingle,
drunk on the dark-red wine,
whirling down for more.


“Formal” is a blanket description commonly applied to poems that follow a specific meter and/or rhyme scheme predetermined by a unique template.

Common examples include sonnets and villanelles. 

Formal poetry has been losing popularity as writers move further away from strict rulesets.

Still, it has an important place in the poetry world both historically and as a tool for poets to sharpen their skills and challenge themselves.

Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare


Found poetry is a “literary collage” where a writer takes existing texts from various sources such as news articles, letters, or even other poems, and reorganizes them into a whole new form of poetry.

Some believe that this poem type is a sheer act of plagiarism and that it’s not a respectable branch of poetry at all.

As an example, here is a short poem combining lines from four different works.

Some say the world will end in fire,
in a kingdom by the sea.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
Their very memory is fair and bright.

Free Verse

Free verse poems don’t have rules whatsoever.

The lengths of each line rhyme that may or may not exist and individual details are all decided at the poet’s whim. This form isn’t without its pros and cons, though.

The upside is that a free verse poem has the potential to be unbelievably beautiful if written by an expert craftsman who gives every single word, pause, and punctuation mark a greater purpose within the poem. 

The downside, which can be huge, is that many hopefuls lack the necessary experience to imbue each line with a sense of purpose, leading to bland, empty poetry.

As a result, free verse has a mixed reputation in the poetry world.

It’s a form that brings out the best of the world’s most experienced writers and brings out the worst in the world’s most inexperienced writers. 

Don’t let that scare you away but do study up on the inner mechanisms of poetry before blindly assuming “anyone can do it.”

Mirror by Sylvia Plath is one of the best classic examples of a free verse poem.


I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Sylvia Plath


A ghazal is an ancient form of Arabic poetry.

Generally speaking, ghazals utilize a series of unconnected couplets that play with language and romantic themes, especially unrequited love.

Your eyes are the stars that dot my shining sky tonight.
Your lips, the subtle bliss of learning to fly tonight.

I see you in moonlight and stare like a fool,
unwilling to ask your secrets, to pry tonight.

All the things I cannot say well up over time.
You are both my despair and my high, tonight.

Yet you remain the treasure of a thousand nations,
with which a better man could surely buy tonight.

Oh but gather yourself up, Peter! Such beauty stings,
but I would gladly make this evening my tonight.


The glosa, also called the glose and (rarely) the gloss form, is essentially a Spanish poem form meant to interpret a section of poetry from another poet.

It’s like a strange hybrid of a traditional poem and a critical analysis.

It seems to be structurally based on Greek odes, but there is a great deal of disagreement as to what does and does not constitute a glosa.

Here’s an example of a glosa:

from Sonnet 130

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.

William Shakespeare

She does not shine nor glimmer as she runs
and leaves no trail of joy behind her steps.
She is not welcome, nor does she bring fun
and people celebrate when she has left.
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.

I doubt a soul would cry if her heart bled
nor would I notice if her tears did dry.
It pains me now to take her flesh to bed,
despite me knowing that she often cries.
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red


The gogyohka is a modern Japanese poem form by poet Enta Kusakabe, born 1938.

While many Japanese forms are very old and interwoven into a complex family tree that can be traced back to the traditional renga, this particular form is a very simple and free five-line poem that was created with more modern sensibilities in mind.

Here is an example of a gogyohka:

I have never seen
a baby fox
on a rainy day
but I’d like to believe
they’re safe.

Golden Shovel

The Golden Shovel is a poem form that is actually named after the poem involved in its founding.

In this form, the poem utilizes one or more lines from a preexisting poem in the endings of the new poem to pay homage to the original.

This form got its start with the 2010 poem by the same name, written by Terrance Hayes, an American poet who was born on November 18, 1971.

This poem below utilizes the first three lines of Robert Frost’s famous “Fire and Ice” as the basis.

Passions and Dreams
A Golden Shovel of “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Despite the weight of some
rough days, I still say
that in all the
great, beautiful world,
I always and surely will
never let my passions end
until I have happily drowned in
their lovely red fire.

Maybe some
people say
to abandon those dreams in
good faith, but like ice
their advice comes from
a cold place, and what
little lessons I’ve
learned and joys I’ve tasted
taught me of
the warmth of desire.


The Gwawdodyn verse form is the 20th of the codified Welsh meters.

This form is made up of quatrains comprised of distinct couplet forms that are, themselves, other members of the codified meters.

More specifically, a Gwawdodyn verse will be a Cyhydedd Naw Ban couplet followed by either a Toddaid or a Cyhydedd Hir.

Here is an example of this poem type:

Wales has many a form I’ve heard,
all made up of difficult words.
If you perhaps care to pull up a chair
then I’ll gladly share ones I prefer.

Gwawdodyn Byr

Gwawdodyn Byr is a Welsh meter based on quatrains that is nearly, but not quite, isosyllabic.

It features two nine-syllable lines followed by two ten-syllable lines, with a single rhyme sound that appears on all four lines.

The sound appears at the end of lines one, two, and four, but in the middle of line three.

Here’s an example of gwawdodyn byr:

The sheep are not coming home today.
The shepherd let them outside to play
but there they’ll stay, enjoying life outside,
beside both the flowers and tricky fey.

Gwawdodyn Hir

Gwawdodyn Hir is a Welsh meter based on sixains (six-line stanzas).

It combines lines of nine and ten syllables, utilizing rhyme and cross-rhyme to enforce rhythm.

Superficially, it is an expanded version of the Gwawdodyn Byr, taking that same form and adding two more lines to it.

Here’s an example of gwawdodyn hir:

In days gone by I might have once known grace
but now it is all far too much to face.
I long for a space to hide away,
where life might go at my own soft pace.
Perhaps I’ll find it if I swiftly flee,
somewhere to be, to a safe old space.


A haibun is a combination piece that contains both prose and one or more haikus (depending on the length of the haibun).

The form traces its origins to Matsuo Bashō, one of Japan’s most famous poets.

It eventually achieved international prestige alongside the haiku and is now celebrated around the world as a prominent literary form.

This haibun below combines a short 63-word prose section with a single haiku.

The Dried-Up Farm

Dry dusts beat against the barn again, begging to be let in so the dead winds can ruin everything. The cicadas squawk and scream, dissatisfied with the humble offerings of the dying corn. An old rusty watering can beside the door tells the story of a few decades of hard work maintaining the crops, only for one summer to tear it all down.

One water droplet
holds within it so much weight
wherever it falls.


Haikus, in English, are poems that feature a 5-7-5 syllable structure. (Five lines on the first, seven on the second, five on the third.) 

The focus is typically on mundane moments of beauty in life.

Of course, many of the rules associated with haikus, including the syllable count, have been violated over time.

That’s not unusual for popular forms.

In the original Japanese tradition, where haikus originated from, they were typically poems that focused on nature and the seasons.

Flower petals sink
as if to threaten softly
of a warm summer.

Haiku Sonnet

The haiku sonnet is essentially just a 14-line poem comprised of four haikus and a couplet that has lines of either five or seven syllables.

The definition of a haiku sonnet used for this article comes from Writer’s Digest, who are themselves taking these standards directly from a single poet’s blog.

That man is David Marshall, who seems to have invented this form for personal use.

Here is an example of a haiku sonnet:

To Speak

I bring to others
the treasure of words, sometimes
wondering softly

if I am allowed
to keep some of those riches.
Still I give away

as if the giving
were an addiction, crudely
cutting out pieces

of my own soft heart
only to watch, silently
as you bite down hard

upon the pieces I share,
seemingly oblivious.


Hainteny or “knowledge of words” is one of several forms of poetry native to the Merina people of Madagascar.

This form tends to be told through dialogue between one or two characters, with an emphasis on praise, dispraise, and metaphor.

The use of special proverbs called ohabalona is a noteworthy feature.

Here’s an example of a poem written in hainteny:

from The Ibonia

I am an edible arum in the chink of a rock
uncrushed by any foot
its leaves not eaten.

Hir a Thoddaid

Hir a Thoddaid (literally “long stanza with a Toddaid”) is the 22nd of the codified Welsh meters.

It consists of an isosyllabic mono-rhymed quatrain followed by a Toddaid couplet, which is itself the 19th meter.

This unique form is the most commonly used of the awdl forms in the modern day.

Here’s an example of a hir a thoddaid:

Long ago, I saw a single spruce tree.
I could have sworn she bowed and waved at me.
What a strange, impossible sight to see
but still I would swear up and down to thee
that such a thing did really be— so look!
There by the brook, I knew it was she!


The huitain is an interesting eight-line poem that has seen some mild variations and regional jumps over the course of its lifespan.

The most commonly accepted huitain has an ABABBCBC rhyme scheme and either eight or ten syllables, though eight is more historically accurate.

The following uses one of the expected rhyme schemes for the form and employs iambic tetrameter, keeping to the eight syllables per line of the original form.

A Sailor’s End

Avast ye fools upon the sea,
whose hands contend with wind and salt,
look up to death with tireless glee.
He’ll know at once it’s not your fault,
for sailors need to weave and vault
through all the trials life can bring
and weather each great new assault,
if just to hear the angels sing.


Idylls are short poems about rural living, though the original idylls by Theocritus were actually quite long by the standards of modern poetry.

This is generally seen as a synonym for pastoral.

When the two are differentiated, it is accepted that “idyll” will then refer to poems that are directly inspired by Theocritus’ writing.

Here is an example of an idyll:

The Fiddling of the Shepherds

O Muses, the shepherds are at it again
playing rough on their violins,
while one lone elder watches the sheep,
and thank the gods for that.

Eris has taken the whole season off
and all the crops are standing tall
so here amidst golden fields of grain,
farmers and ranchers gather again
to strum fast upon their fiddles
and thank the gods for that.

The youngest tried to woo a maiden
but had no skill with which to write
and so she left him for a senator
but he stole her father’s cow out of spite.
He decided not to press charges,
for his daughter’s a rough-ridden harlot
who’d tricked many a man before,
and curse the gods for that.


The imayo is a quaint Japanese form somewhat reminiscent of the haiku, though a bit longer.

Much like the haiku, the imayo uses sections split into five and seven syllables but has no specific requirements in terms of rhyme and meter.

There isn’t much western documentation on the imayo available online.

Here’s an example of this quaint poem form:

Scent of Autumn

Beyond Autumn’s falling leaves, there is a calm peace,
hidden beneath the fresh reds, resting on sidewalks,
carried on the flowing breezes, from backyard to street,
with a chilling precision, as if aimed at us.


Inaugural poems, as the name would suggest, are written to celebrate a presidential inauguration.

Only three American presidents have poets read an inaugural poem at their inaugurations thus far. Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama were leaders known to be appreciative of literature.

Praise Song for the Day is an inaugural written by Elizabeth Alexander for President Barack Obama in 2009.

from Praise Song for the Day

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

Elizabeth Alexander

Interlocking Rubaiyat

The interlocking rubaiyat is a quatrain-based verse form tracing its origins to ancient Persia.

The version of the poem we know today was popularized by Edward Fitzgerald, who first introduced the form to western audiences.

This example below uses the English conventions of iambic pentameter and an AABA rhyme scheme.

As Days Fall Fast

As days fall fast into each other’s shade,
becoming one long memory to fade,
we look to where we were the day before
almost as if the past should be obeyed.

But still we have to always ask for more
and love surprises life may choose to store.
Do not accept the dues you have been paid
until you know just what they were paid for.

Italian Octave

The Italian octave, also known as the Sicilian octave, essentially follows the same rules as the first eight lines of the Petrarchan sonnet.

It is unknown whether the octave branched from the sonnet or vice versa, but most historians agree that the two are almost certainly related.

The form was only popular in its home region up until about the Renaissance.

Below is an excerpt of a famous Petrarchan sonnet, with its first eight lines essentially an Italian octave.

from Sonnet 43

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Jintishi, or regulated verse, is a group of Chinese poem forms that rely heavily on tonality and rhyme, traditionally written in couplets.

Sadly, this particular form is so entrenched in tonality that there is no true English equivalent, since the English language has a limited relationship with tone compared to Chinese.


Jueju is a Chinese poem form consisting of a quatrain with exactly 20 or 28 Chinese characters in total.

The form is often likened to a ‘shortened sonnet’ but this seems to mostly refer to a specific adaptation of the form proposed by Robin Skelton in The Shapes of Our Singing.


When those red berries of the south,
flush on the branches in the spring,
take home an armful, for my sake,
as a symbol of our love.

Wang Wei (translated)


The katuata is very much like a haiku with a romantic theme instead of only referring to seasons or nature as the primary motif, though those images are still common throughout Japanese poetry (including within the katuata).

Katuata fit in smoothly with the most traditional forms of Japanese poetry, maintaining the typical counts of five and seven syllables we’ve come to expect from short Japanese forms.

Just like many other Japanese forms, there are collaborative versions.

Here’s an example of a katuata poem:

do the trees exist
only to obscure your face
so that gods are not jealous?


The kimo is one of the many poem types inspired by the haiku, with this one coming from Israel.

Like the haiku, the kimo is a three-line poem emphasizing specific syllable counts.

It, like many other adaptations of the haiku, does not require any seasonal or cutting words.

Below is an example of a kimo:

A wrecked rowboat, near lost against the rocks
sits idle, boasting boldly
of grand old adventures.


A kouta is usually a quatrain, though a fifth line is occasionally added to the form.

Each verse is a stand-alone poem, but they will typically appear alongside more koutas that share the same theme.

Whereas many Japanese poems are renowned for their ambition and beauty, the kouta is a very humble form that usually touches on everyday topics.

Below are three different kuotas but treated as a set:

My head pounds away
always eager to displease me
but I struggle on
because work awaits my fingers.

This storm in my mind screams, scrapes,
shrieks in a thousand old tongues.
I fail to decipher it
but fear it’s loud wrath.

A headache whispers
sometimes softly but
when it sees an opening
it wails like a fat baby
crying out for milk.


Kwansaba is an African American praise poem that borrows heavily from the same principles that founded Kwanzaa, a holiday that celebrates African American heritage and struggles.

It was created in 1995 by Eugene B. Redmond, a poet whose works both influence and are influenced by the Black Arts Movement.

The poem’s purpose is primarily as a means to celebrate Kwanzaa and the cultural values that it represents.


The kyrielle is a French form consisting of rhymed quatrains with octosyllabic lines.

While it doesn’t have many admirers in English it is nonetheless a prominent form of France, enough so that it even has some unusual variations, such as the kyrielle sonnet.

Unlike many other forms which designate an exact beginning and end, the kyrielle can go on for as many quatrains as the poet deems necessary.

Distractions is a poem written kyrielle style.


Deep beneath my blankets, I weep
for the sweet release of soft sleep
will not beckon me to rest here
for many thoughts are still not clear.

The plans I should handle all fall
around my neck with the harsh call
of chains clanging against my ear
because my thoughts are still not clear.

So it is that I lay here sobbing
as daylight soon will be robbing
me of my chance, and all these tears
do not help thoughts that are not clear.

Lai (Lay)

The lai (lay) is a French form utilizing nine-line verses that are further divided up, structurally, into three-line units.

Each verse has an AABAABAAB rhyme scheme, while each three-line unit has a 5-5-2 syllable structure.

This makes for a poem form that is demanding, but aesthetically pleasing when properly achieved.

Staying In

I stay in today.
You can go away
Clouds are hanging gray.
Thus I gladly stay.
if you will go play.
I have had my say.
Take care.


The landay is a traditional Afghan form. Its name means “short, poisonous snake” in Pashto.

This is appropriate since a landay is meant to be a brief witty poem with a sharp bite to it.

Here’s an example of a landay poem:

A politician’s false promises.
We chuckle at yet another ‘sincere’ false dogma.

Lethrannaegecht Mor

Lethrannaegecht Mor is a casual form hailing from ancient Ireland.

As with many Celtic forms, there is an emphasis on repeated sounds and rhyme.

This particular form is fairly compact, with each verse being just twenty syllables, though the poem as a whole can be any number of verses.

Here is an example of a lethrannaegecht mor poem:

Maybe I’ll have cake.
Better that than clay.
It takes time to cook.
It looks like I may.


Limericks are examples of a poem written for humor, employing a simple AABBA rhyme scheme and an amusing anecdotal topic.

They’re written more for simple entertainment than to get at any greater purpose and are a nice reminder that poems don’t need to “mean” something to be well-liked.

I saw a lovely young lady from France
who quietly asked me to dance.
I tripped on my shoe,
became black and blue,
and may have just missed my chance.


List poems, also known as catalog poems, are one of the simplest forms of poetry and are such a popular project for children, but that doesn’t mean they have no literary value.

There are multiple ways to format a list poem, but the general idea is that it is functionally both a list and a poem.

Eight Times is a list poem that lists actions instead of nouns.

Eight Times

Once, you said you loved me
and I did believe you then.
Twice, you looked away
but I thought you would stay.
Thrice, I called your name,
to hear nothing in return.
Four times, I asked for you,
thinking your love was true.
Five times, I was lied to
and told you were not there.
Six times, I forgave your friends
but now this is where it ends.
Seven times, you slept with him
and that I shall not forgive.
Eight times, I’ll stab his heart
to rip you traitorous fools apart.

Lục Bát

The lục bát is a Vietnamese verse form with a unique rhyme scheme.

The poem’s name really just means “six-eight” in Sino-Vietnamese, in deference to the alternating lines of six and eight syllables.

The poem below titled Dancing in Moonlight is a beautiful example of this Vietnamese verse.

Dancing in Moonlight

I dance in moonlight near
the border that rests here between
this place so rarely seen
where ghosts have perhaps been awake
waiting for souls to take
as merriment they make each night
when the last dregs of light
leave as if dragged by fright or tears.


Lyric poetry is completely unlike poetry focused on narratives or concrete subjects.

Lyric poetry is all about connecting with and expressing a feeling. These poems can be free or formal, depending on the writer’s preference. 

For example, many famous love poems that focus on explaining how it feels to love can be considered lyric poetry.

Not to be confused with song lyrics because, again, the English language is a charming mess.

Here’s a timeless lyrical style poem by W.H. Auden.

If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.
If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.
There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

W.H. Auden


Madrigals are commonly short lyrical poems about romance, but not always.

Sometimes they’re very long and sometimes they’re not about romance.

Among poetic forms, the madrigal is especially adept at evading concrete definitions.

Here’s an excellent example of a madrigal poem, written by William Drummond.

Like the Idalian Queen

Like the Idalian queen,
Her hair about her eyne,
With neck and breast’s ripe apples to be seen,
At first glance of the morn
In Cyprus’ gardens gathering those fair flowers
Which of her blood were born,
I saw, but fainting saw, my paramours.
The Graces naked danced about the place,
The winds and trees amazed
With silence on her gazed,
The flowers did smile, like those upon her face;
And as their aspen stalks those fingers band,
That she might read my case,
A hyacinth I wished me in her hand.

William Drummond

Magic 9

The magic 9 poem is a simple nine-line poem with a rhyme scheme of ABACADABA.

It has no other rules or regulations.

The rhyme scheme is deceptively easy to remember since it is literally just the word “Abracadabra” with the r’s removed.

Here’s a madrigal as an example.

Pull a rabbit out of your hat
and take the stage
to inspire others wherever you’re at
with a hearty bow
because you’re always up to bat
in the act of life
so wipe your feet on its welcome mat
turning a new page
if you could just at least do that.


Masnavi (or mathnawi) are a poem form that emerged from the middle east, and most likely the Persian empire, sometime between the 4th and 10th century.

The form is entirely comprised of couplets, though triplet variants exist, with isosyllabic lines of either ten or eleven syllables.

This form seems to vary slightly from region to region.

Here is an example of a masnavi:

Zoned Out

The space between my ears where thoughts should be
is often just a resting place for me,
a soft escape that only I can see.

For what good would having many thoughts do
if they pull me away from time with you?
Ask me a question. I haven’t a clue.

But perhaps I simply like to be lost.
Wherever swirling winds and tides have tossed
me is fine. My eyes are already glossed.

Glazed over fast in my own quiet dream.
Somewhere between stormy clouds and sunbeams.
In my own head, where everything gleams.


The McWhirtle is a variation of the double dactyl created by Bruce Newling in 1989, in an attempt to create a more flexible version of the form that opens itself up to a wider interpretation.

It still maintains dactylic dimeter with rhymed choriambs, mostly, but the resulting poem can be wildly different.

Below is an example of a poem in this form:

The Piano Player
by Bruce Newling

I read in the papers
That Harry F. Ungar
Performs in a night spot
Near soigne Scotch Plains,
Caressing the keyboard
While affluent yuppies
Are eating and drinking
Their capital gains.


Metered poetry, which includes many formal poems and all blank verse, is poetry. A specific pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables is followed. 

Meter is measured in feet. An individual foot represents the specific pattern to be followed and is usually two or three syllables.

For example, an iambic foot (or iamb) is one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. 

The number of feet determines the length of the meter. A meter with five feet is a pentameter.

As such, a line of poetry with five iambs back-to-back is considered “iambic pentameter.” This also means that a line of iambic pentameter will always have exactly ten syllables total due to having five sets of two syllables.

Note that the stress of a syllable is based on vocalization and can vary slightly depending on dialect or even from person to person.

As such, many poets will gladly deviate from the meter for a foot or two, as long as the overarching poem maintains the proper rhythm.

Poe’s Annabel Lee is an example that uses the anapest meter.

from Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

Edgar Allan Poe


A mimic poem, otherwise known as an imitation poem, is a poem purposely written in the style of another writer, often copying rhythm, meter, and even core elements of the subject matter.

It’s important to credit the writer of the original and clarify that your poem is an imitation if writing one for publication.

Below is an example of a Mimic poem:

That Old Wheelbarrow

(imitating “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams)

so many people
that old wheel
blazing a trail
toward some bored


Minimalism is more of a movement than a type of poem.

Still, it’s a term commonly used to refer to poems that stray away from classic techniques and even punctuation in extreme cases. 

Minimalist poetry has recently been popularized by the success of Rupi Kaur, whose writings are radically minimalistic.

This is one of the more controversial movements at this moment. Many people applaud the lawless, avant-garde rawness of minimalist poems, while others argue that the lack of technique makes them feel hollow. 

Either way, they’re an example of just how far you can push free verse while still making something that is recognizably a poem.

i look to the window
sometimes weeping
never knowing why
even as the view beneath
escapes my sightless eyes


The minute poem has a total of 60 syllables, one for each second in a minute.

Despite the cutesy sound, it’s actually a fairly demanding form consisting of rhymed iambic meter.

Most of the lines are four syllables each, but the first line of each stanza is twice as long as the others.

The poem Snow and Leaves below is an example of a minute poem type.

Snow and Leaves

The soft unending snow here lasts
and falls so fast
upon the ground
without a sound.

It brings to mind the humble fall
of leaves that call
from Autumn’s time,
supreme, sublime.

Unlike those leaves of vibrant hues
the snow will choose
to leave no trace
upon this place.

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza

The Mistress Bradstreet Stanza gets its hilarious sounding name from the first poem that ever employed the form, Homage to Mistress Bradstreet by John Berryman, a 20th-century American poet.

Berryman was particularly inspired by the poetry of W. B. Yeats and attributes the concept behind this form to a lifetime of studying Yeats’ poetry.

John Berryman’s the Homage to Mistress Bradstreet is an excellent example of this poem type.

from Homage to Mistress Bradstreet

The Governor your husband lived so long
moved you not, restless, waiting for him? Still,
you were a patient woman.
I seem to see you pause here still:
Sylvester, Quarles, in moments odd you pored
before a fire at, bright eyes on the Lord,
all the children still.
‘Simon …’ Simon will listen while you read a Song.

John Berryman


A mondo is a Japanese poetic form consisting of two verses with a 5-7-7 or (less commonly) 5-7-5 syllable structure.

The poem traces its origins to the Zen tradition of a master rapid-firing questions at their student, usually with an emphasis on finding wisdom within nature.

Below is an example of a mondo poem:

Why does the bird sing
so early in the morning
upon its nest in the trees?

Perhaps serenading
the grounded creatures beneath
to pay the price for its wings.


Monody is a poem form inspired by the old Greek odes, and more specifically elegies.

It is a poem of grieving, meant to be recited by a single person.

As such, monodies do have a tendency to be more personal than other elegies, referencing the feelings of the individual rather than the general opinions of a group.

Here is an example of a monody poem:

Beside the waves, I heard your voice
singing where you always stood.
Had I the privilege or the choice,
I’d have kept you longer if I could.

I know when the reaper took you
he held no malice for love or me,
but I’d have gladly followed, too,
had he only looked back to see.

Yet he did not linger long enough
for me to even know he’d been there.
You were not gone; it was not rough,
‘til I reached out and held only air.

The hand that still belongs in yours
is trapped in time until I pass,
yet thunder cracks and rain pours,
mocking my tears through the glass.

I pray only that you wait for me
if I may be so greedy and bold,
for I’ll never again feel alive and free,
knowing the pain of a hand gone cold.


A monostich is a poem consisting of a single line.

Monostich poems are often fragmentary, offering only a peek into some image or feeling due to their brevity.

Due to their length (or lack thereof), a monostich is naturally incapable of many of the qualities that general readers associate with poetry, such as rhyme scheme.

A Lover, written by Amy Lowell, is an excellent example of a monostich poem.

If I could catch the green lantern of the firefly I could see to write you a letter.


Monotetra is a poem form created by Michael Walker.

It’s a fairly new form of poetry, which only emerged around 2003.

It is composed of quatrains or four-line stanzas written in tetrameter (four feet) and the last line repeats the first four syllables twice.

The poem below titled Come What May is a monotetra.

Come What May

I look right down the street to see
someone I know following me
and feel elated just to be
so wild and free, so wild and free.

We laugh and laugh. It’s been a while
but still we gladly stop to smile
and gossip of what’s now in style.
But still, he’s vile. But still, he’s vile.

This man did steal a girl I knew.
I blinked just once and off they flew.
I thought back then her love was true.
Be careful, you. Be careful, you.

A friend who you do trust today
is free to deftly take away,
thus leaving you alone and gray.
Live, come what may. Live, come what may.


The nasher, named after the American 20th century poet Ogden Nash, is a simple poem form comprised of couplets that have a humorous and often sarcastic slant to them.

They’re generally considered an offshoot of light verse, the branch of poetry dealing mostly with humor and whimsy, which also includes limericks and nonsense poems.

Below is an example of a nasher.

Despite the captain’s best effort
the ship wouldn’t leave the port.
It wasn’t until the sides started to pour
that we realized she was still moored.


A nonce form is a poem created by an individual poet, often from nothing but a spark of inspiration, usually for one-time use.

They may or may not be based on preexisting forms, depending on the writer’s preferences, but are their own independent structure (named or unnamed).

Below is a true unnamed nonce poem written in a “PT triple” structure.

Petrified by tomorrow,
pretty but tortured,
preceding the tyranny
portrayed on television,
peacefully with trepidation.


The nonet is a remarkably simple nine-line poem form.

The first line starts with nine syllables, then eight, then seven, all the way down to one.

Aside from this limitation on syllables, there are no other rigid rules coded into the form.

Below is a good example of a nonet poem.

The nonet is a simple project,
if only you give it a chance
so take up your pen in hand
and make just one attempt
to capture its charm
in any shape
that you can


The novem is a poem form consisting of four-syllable, three-word tercets in which the positioning of the disyllabic word is different on each line.

The poem form celebrates consonance and was loosely based on the Burmese than-bauk.

Below is an example that demonstrates the basic structure of this form.

Like a leopard
that lounges here
lazy and sly

I am waiting
and always way
away from there

where too many
more options mount
meeting at once.


An occasional poem is written to comment on or commemorate some special event, especially regarding traditional events and large public gatherings.

Examples of occasions where a poem may be shared include weddings, parties, funerals, victory celebrations, and political speeches.

Priscilla Jane Thompson wrote a jubilant-sounding poem called Emancipation, which is an example of an occasional.

from Emancipation

‘Tis a time for much rejoicing;
Let each heart be lured away;
Let each tongue, its thanks be voicing
For Emancipation Day.
Day of victory, day of glory,
For thee, many a field was gory!

Many a time in days now ended,
Hath our fathers’ courage failed,
Patiently their tears they blended;
Ne’er they to their, Maker, railed,
Well we know their groans, He numbered,
When dominions fell, asundered.

As of old the Red Sea parted,
And oppressed passed safely through,
Back from the North, the bold South, started,
And a fissure wide she drew;
Drew a cleft of Liberty,
Through it, marched our people free.


An ode is a poem that glorifies a specific subject.

Odes can be written to people, places, events, or even random objects lying around the house. 

It is believed that odes were invented by the Greeks, who designed them to be sung. Modern odes lack any particular rules, aside from the theming.

Below is an excerpt from Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats.

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

John Keats

Ottava Rima

The ottava rima is a rhymed octave form that hails from Italy.

The form has been predominantly used for epic poetry and has a simple rhyme scheme that lends itself well to being expanded out into longer poems.

Here’s a poem that uses some of the typical elements expected of epic poetry.

His voice came out like thunder’s noble roar,
his hair a mess of fire and wire and wax.
Respect? His presence asked for so much more,
and left us all unable to relax.
His eyes could shake a mountain to its core,
or freeze a tiger in its shaky tracks.
I knew at once that he was now our king,
and felt in me a sharp and daunting sting.


The ovillejo is a ten-line Spanish poem form that gained popularity during the 17th century.

It’s a unique question-answer poem that weaves three couplets together with a final quatrain using short lines that are designed to intermingle on the last line.

Below is an example of this Spanish poem form.

Where might you find a hiding mouse?
In our house.

What do we all do with our mouths?
We all talk.

What’s the best way for time to spend?
As good friends.

Challenge leads up to triumph’s door.
Life takes time to learn to love it.
Still, we must find a place to sit.
In our house, we all talk as friends.


Palindrome poems, or mirrored poems, describe a category of poems that revolve around the idea of the palindrome (words, phrases, or sentences that read the same backwards as forwards).

This concept can be taken in several different directions, with mixed results, so there’s no absolute definition of this poem type.

Here’s a poem written in the palindrome style.

Dreams until death.
Me haunting myself like specters,
witness fear deflating
light, in hope of glimpses.

Glimpses of hope in light
deflating fear. Witness
specters like myself, haunting me.
Death until dreams.


The pantoum is of Malay origin, specifically the Malay poetic verse form pantun berkait. It resembles French poetry forms villanelle and rondeau.

Pantoum poems consist of repeating quatrains, or four-line stanzas, which can be of any length.

This poem type is introduced to the west by Victor Hugo.

One classic example of a pantoum written by the French poet Charles Baudelaire is the Evening Harmony (Harmonie du Soir)

Evening Harmony

The hour has come at last when, trembling to and fro,
Each flower is a censer sifting its perfume;
The scent and sounds all swirl in evening-s gentle fume;
A melancholy waltz, a languid vertigo!

Each flower is a censer sifting its perfume;
A violin-s vibrato wounds the heart of woe;
A melancholy waltz, a languid vertigo!
The sky, a lofty altar, lovely in the gloom,

A violin-s vibrato wounds the heart of woe,
A tender heart detests the black of nullity,
The sky, a lofty altar, lovely in the gloom;
The sun is drowning in the evening-s blood-red glow.

A tender heart detests the black of nullity,
And lovingly preserves each trace of long ago!
The sun is drowning in the evening-s blood-red glow …
Your memory shines through me like an ostensory!

Charles Baudelaire


The paradelle is a parody of the villanelle (and formal poetry in general), created by poet laureate Billy Collins.

Despite its introduction as a joke, the form ended up being picked up by multiple writers afterward and now paradoxically joins the list of formal poems out in the wild.

Check out this poem below as an example.

I do despise the constant rules.
I do despise the constant rules.
Refrains and restrictions are a pain.
Refrains and restrictions are a pain.
I do despise the constant refrains.
Rules and restrictions are a pain.

Do the lines seem redundant yet?
Do the lines seem redundant yet?
This is why I hate clunky refrains.
This is why I hate clunky refrains.
Do the refrains seem clunky yet?
This is why I hate redundant lines.

Just a few more horrid repetitions.
Just a few more horrid repetitions.
These rancid stanzas are nearly over.
These rancid stanzas are nearly over.
Just over these rancid repetitions,
are a few more horrid stanzas, nearly.

I do despise the clunky refrains.
These rules and restrictions are nearly over.
Just a few more redundant lines.
This is why I hate constant repetitions.
These rancid stanzas are a pain.
Do the refrains seem horrid yet?


A pastoral is a type of poem that focuses on rural life and the natural world. 

Generally, pastorals paint an idealistic country life away from the harshness of urban living. 

The underlying message of most pastorals is a desire to return to untainted settings surrounded by nature.

Shepherds are common central figures in pastoral poems.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes is a beautiful example of pastoral poetry.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

 Langston Hughes


A patchwork poem is a type of found poetry in which the lines each come from different pre-established works that the poet borrowed from.

Patchwork and cento are actually words used interchangeably when referring to this poem type.

It’s just that patchwork poetry is essentially seen as the “modern” version.

Here’s an example of a patchwork poem, which is essentially borrowed from three well-known poets.

Some say the world will end in fire,
in a kingdom by the sea.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
Their very memory is fair and bright.


Praise poems are written explicitly to offer praise or glorification to a person or deity.

Political praise poems naturally waned in popularity with the eventual move away from monarchies, though various African cultures still regularly feature praise poems.

Religious praise poems remain a staple of poetry well into the modern era, as devout followers of various religions have often felt the need to express their loyalty and faith in words.

Here’s a praise poem that is written for the Greek hero Theseus.

For Theseus

O wise and noble Theseus!
Glory to the uniter-king,
unifier of beautiful Attica.
Let us thank the warrior king
who courageously hunted
the wicked and savage minotaur.

O brave and noble Theseus!
Feller of many a brigand,
beloved of the gods and people,
you who lives and breathes victory,
you who even the Amazon queen
could only embrace with love.

O strong and noble Theseus!
May history forever glorify you!
May your stories forever rest
upon the lips of gods and men,
eager to tell the timeless tale
of the man among men, Theseus.


The pregunta (Spanish for “question”) is a poem form in which one poet recites a question and another poet recites an answer, echoing whatever meter and rhyme scheme the first poet used in their question.

Solo preguntas are also possible, and easier, though it’s debatable as to which is actually better as a form.

The pregunta poem below uses italics to differentiate between the two voices of the poem, the asker and the answerer.

In quiet halls, I ponder, now.
Perhaps you’ll tell us all, somehow,
why does the songbird sing so sweet?
Now answer fast or know defeat!

The songbird sings of love, no doubt.
What other topic, hereabout,
could bring such music to their beaks?
This is the answer that you seek.


A prose poem is a poetry type that combines both poem and prose writing style elements.

While prose poetry does not break lines into verses, it shows poetry characteristics such as figures of speech, metaphors, and symbolism, which are common to poetry.

A prose poem is commonly a free verse poem that commits itself to the format and general rules of prose.

One excellent example of a prose poem is Amy Lowell’s Spring Day. Below is an excerpt of this prose poem.

Breakfast Table

In the fresh-washed sunlight, the breakfast table is decked and white. It offers itself in flat surrender, tendering tastes, and smells, and colors, and metals, and grains, and the white cloth falls over its side, draped and wide. Wheels of white glitter in the silver coffee-pot, hot and spinning like catherine-wheels, they whirl, and twirl—and my eyes begin to smart, the little white, dazzling wheels prick them like darts. Placid and peaceful, the rolls of bread spread themselves in the sun to bask. A stack of butter-pats, pyramidal, shout orange through the white, scream, flutter, call: “Yellow! Yellow! Yellow!” Coffee steam rises in a stream, clouds the silver tea-service with mist, and twists up into the sunlight, revolved, involuted, suspiring higher and higher, fluting in a thin spiral up the high blue sky. A crow flies by and croaks at the coffee steam. The day is new and fair with good smells in the air.

Amy Lowell


The qasida, in its original form, was similar to a Greek ode.

It was a three-part poem with narrative elements meant to be sung aloud, which usually touched on praise, glory, loss, or other popular themes of the time.

The modern-day qasida retains some elements but is less unified in its design.

He thought back on her lovely face,
always bringing a sense of grace.
Now suddenly no one was there.
What wife could ever take her place?
He knew at once where she had gone
so he vanished without a trace.
His men would come to know someday
that he’d already given chase.

For the villains who stole his love
we sing brief songs of dark disgrace,
but surely soon he’ll know her touch
and live again in her embrace.
His horse leaves thunder where it steps
setting a bold and vicious pace.
His sword flashes like lightning’s wrath
as he falls upon the bandit base.
Scarcely a soul is left to grieve,
their sanctum broken and debased.

Those weak fools who invoked vengeance
surely had their flimsy faiths misplaced.
Our prince does not hold mercy high,
passing judgement from case to case.
This time the price was extinction
for setting swiftly his rage apace.
Think well before you anger us,
or to you next he’ll gladly race.


The quatern is a short quaternion (a poem divided into four parts) that employs a refrain that switches positions between each verse.

The quatern is sixteen lines, cut up into quatrains that are each comprised of eight-syllable lines.

This quatern below lightly touches on the mystery of a fallen log, seemingly too pristine to have fallen in a storm.

A simple tree out in the wood
seems to have fallen flat again.
I wonder why it did collapse,
and look upon it, now and then.

The mystery remains intact.
A simple tree out in the wood.
Now just a log upon its side,
well and truly fallen for good.

It was not lightning. This I know.
For the bark is unmarred and light.
A simple tree out in the wood
that simply does not stand upright.

It does not bother me too much,
though perhaps it really should,
for what creature could knock aside
a simple tree out in the wood?


A quintilla is a five-line verse form with octosyllabic lines in which there are only two end sounds.

The poet is not allowed to have three consecutive rhymes nor to end the poem in a couplet, leaving only five viable options for the poem’s rhyme scheme.

Here’s a quintilla, written purposely to sound like a witty little nursery rhyme, which utilizes the ABABA rhyme scheme.

The Troll’s Cave

Deep in some dark forgotten cave
a troll slumbers upon his bed.
Those who visit had best behave
or else leave there without a head,
or at least a rather close shave.

Rannaicheacht Mhor

Rannaicheacht Mhor is an ancient Irish poem form based entirely on quatrains.

The lines of the quatrain are isosyllabic, a relative rarity among Irish poem forms, and cross-rhymes are used liberally.

In particular, every line includes a word that matches the end rhyme in its paired line.

Here is an example of this poem type:

I despise with all my heart
the startling stench of lies.
It flies forth fast, hitting hard,
in its guarded gilded guise.


The renga, which literally means “linked verse,” is a form of Japanese poetry based on collaboration between multiple poets.

Hence, deemed to be “communal poetry”.

The renga was developed after two people started writing a tanka (a traditional short Japanese poem) together, and it became a favorite pastime even in ancient rural Japan.


The rhupunt is one of the 24 codified Welsh meters.

It focuses mainly on monorhyme, though the last line of the rhupunt will not rhyme with the rest and will usually instead be matched to a second rhupunt added to the first.

As such, rhupunts were traditionally written in couplets.

Check out this example below.

I go to bed to rest my head and yet instead find no peace there.
But still I try and though I cry, I will seek my own restful share.


Spoiler alert: Some poems rhyme.

These rhymes aren’t usually selected at random, though this can sometimes be the case. 

If you follow a poem along carefully, you’ll often find that rhyming poems will have a set pattern in which every other line rhymes or perhaps the last two lines of each stanza rhyme, etc.

These patterns are defined as rhyme schemes and are signified by a series of capital letters that represent the ending sounds of the lines. 

So a poem with a rhyme scheme of AABC AADE has the same ending sound on the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th lines (signified by the “A”). 

None of the other letters match each other to signify that none of them rhyme with each other or with the sound used for “A.”

Even poems that don’t have a set rhyme scheme will often use rhyme as a means to draw the reader’s attention to a line that the writer felt was important. 

And yes, there are also times when a rhyme was just dropped in to make a line sound more fun. Poets are people too.

Romance by Edgar Allan Poe is a good example of a rhymed poem.


Romance, who loves to nod and sing
With drowsy head and folded wing
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been—most familiar bird—
Taught me my alphabet to say,
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child—with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky;
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings,
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away—forbidden things—
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.

Edgar Allan Poe

Rimas Dissolutas

The rimas dissolutas is a troubaderic verse form in which verses rhyme with each other instead of having the lines of each verse rhyme internally.

A poem in quatrains would have a rhyme scheme of ABCD ABCD, etc.

Lines can be of any length but are generally isosyllabic while verses can be any number of lines.

Below is an example of a rimas dissolutas written in tercets. In this particular case, every line is six syllables, aka hexasyllabic.

All the great world looks blue.
Perhaps because you left.
Still, I trek on ahead.

It’s empty without you.
Life is barren, bereft.
I clutch the words you said.

They seem so much more true
and carry such great heft,
now that you’re gone and dead.

Rime Couée

Rime couée is a French stanzaic verse form with six-line stanzas that each have a rhyme scheme of aabccb.

The third and sixth lines are hexasyllabic while the rest of the lines are octasyllabic.

This, paired with the rhyme scheme, puts a unique emphasis on the middle and end of each verse.

We dance with the whimsical tides,
as waves lick at the old ship’s sides,
ever ready to sail
against Poseidon’s mighty blows,
not content to go with the flow,
chasing the old white whale.

Perhaps we’ll sink on distant shores,
shivering to our soggy cores,
but we’ll have our revenge.
A white flash out in the distance,
out where a ship should never dance.
Captain will be avenged.


The rionnaird is an ancient Irish verse form consisting of quatrains.

The poem form is technically a meter, as the ancient Celtic cultures had a very different concept of meter than we do in modern English.

A longer version can be formed by repeating rionnairds back-to-back for as long as the poet would like.

Below is an example of this Irish form.

Dearly a fat sparrow
passed by my house loudly
though the alley’s narrow
as if it were boasting.

It may be a contest
for the birds to enter
showing to their fondest
that they love them dearly.


The rispetto is a 15th-century Italian verse form based around two rhyming quatrains.

It usually has a rhyme scheme of abab ccdd, though the second verse can vary a bit.

The most defining feature of the rispetto is that it is always a poem expressing respect. In fact the name, rispetto, literally means “respect.”

The ship would not have seen our port of choice
nor weathered violent storms both vast and fierce
if not for Captain’s crass and booming voice
with which he left the clouds and oceans pierced.

We sailors walk upon the shore today
because our Captain’s fire did light the way.
If ever I do sink into the sea,
my Captain surely shall have stayed with me.


Romantic Poetry describes a style of poetry, a school of thought, and most accurately an era starting in the late 18th century in which poetry was dominated by emotion, nature, and an obsession with the sublime.

It was the direct result of an intellectual rejection of the preceding Enlightenment era’s ideals.

Below is an example of a poem written in this form:

My heart leaps up

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

by William Wordsworth


The Rondeau is a fixed poem type that originated in Medieval France.

It is composed of 15 lines that are divided into three stanzas namely, a quintet, a quatrain, and a sestet.

The first and the last lines of a rondeau are identical and it follows the aabba aabR aabbaR rhyme scheme.

Below is an example of a rondeau written by the well-known African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties,

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile,
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Rondeau Redouble

The rondeau redouble is essentially a challenging “super rondeau” that extends the form out to 25 lines instead of 15.

That, while also demands a tighter structure focused around rhymed quatrains instead of uneven verses, while still utilizing refrains.

It was invented by the 16th-century French poet Clement Marot.

Here’s an example that features quite a few iambic lines but is not strictly metric, nor does it go all in on the masculine and feminine rhymes prescribed by Malcovati.

Our Fire Burns

As our fire burns with searing light
until begins a good new day,
perhaps the day will start off bright,
or at least not that dreadful gray.

So look into those sparks and pray
for strength to shake off darkest night.
The stars will surely look our way
if our fire burns with searing light.

Go sing of joy with all your might,
for that is how you’ll have your say.
We’ll laugh and cry and sometimes fight
until begins a good new day.

We choose to celebrate and play,
to drink ‘til we forget our plight.
If we can choose to live this way,
perhaps the day will start off bright.

Us fools are such a welcome sight,
forever grinning, come what may.
Our clouds do gleam a lovely white,
or at least not that dreadful gray.

Sometimes we leave, sometimes we stay.
But either way our souls take flight
to live in that most modest way,
to revel by both day and night,
as our fire burns.


The rondel is a French verse form typically consisting of 13 octasyllabic lines and multiple refrains, though there are quite a few variants of the form.

It is a descendant of the prolific rondeau, another older French form that also had an impressive amount of influence over formal poetry.

This cactus sits in desert sands
but offers no water to drink.
Travelers who are on the brink
may make of it their own demands

but it shall not take those commands,
no matter what their thirst may think.
This cactus sits in desert sands
but offers no water to drink.

Here in dry and deadliest lands
where it hurts to even just blink,
this cactus with its flowers pink
ignores those dying outstretched hands.
This cactus sits in desert sands
but offers no water to drink

Rondel Supreme

The rondel supreme (or rondel prime) is a variant of the shorter rondel.

A rondel supreme is 14 lines, utilizing only two end sounds and a set of refrains that repeats at the end of each of its three verses.

The form has been compared to a sonnet and even carries the nickname “the French sonnet.”

Below is a famous example of this poem form written by Henry Austin Dobson.

The Wanderer

Love comes back to his vacant dwelling, –
The old, old Love that we knew of yore!
We see him stand by the open door,
With his great eyes sad, and his bosom swelling.

He makes as though in our arms repelling,
He fain would lie as he lay before; –
Love comes back to his vacant dwelling, –
The old, old Love that we knew of yore!

Ah, who shall keep us from over-spelling
That sweet forgotten, forbidden lore!
E’en as we doubt in our hearts once more,
With a rush of tears to our eyelids welling,
Love comes back to his vacant dwelling.
The old, old Love that we knew of yore!

Henry Austin Dobson


The rondelet, not to be confused with the rondel or short rondel, is a seven-line French poem form that utilizes a refrain three times despite its brevity.

As a result, the real challenge of the form is often seeing how much the poet can fit within the limited space left behind between the refrains.

Take a look at this rondelet here, showcasing the refrain “A glass sits still”

A glass sits still
at an empty seat at breakfast.
A glass sits still
and we are each tempted to fill
it, to make a mess of the last
place he ever sat in the past.
A glass sits still.


The rondine is a French verse form from around the 16th century that traces its roots to the rondeau, joining a prestigious family of forms that are united by difficult rhyme schemes and heavy use of refrains.

The rondine, for its part, is effectively just a shorter rondeau, at 12 lines instead of the usual 15.

This example below also showcases the use of refrains.

I bide my time beside the sea
because you’ll surely come again.
No matter how or where or when,
return one day once more to me.

Nowhere on earth I’d rather be
than waiting at this frothy den.
I bide my time.

And never will I ever flee.
Return, rewind, reset, and then,
you’ll tire of other, lesser men
and surely then come home to me.
I bide my time.


The roundabout is a twenty-line poem comprised of four quintains.

The meter of the poem is iambic, though its length changes from line to line.

The poem also features refrains unique to each verse, but its most interesting quality is the way the rhyme scheme comes ‘back around’ to the first end sound.

Check out this example below.

At night we soar beyond this place
to fade away from here
somewhere so far
beside the stars
to fade away from here.

Our freedom seems so very near
as if just past the clouds
but more than miles
in fading style
as if just past the clouds.

We pursue it though, just as proud,
as we have ever been.
We leap through space
as full of grace
as we have ever been.

And all the things that we have seen
will help us to keep pace
Despite our tears,
our hopes and fears
will help us to keep pace.


The roundel is an English variation of the French rondeau. It was introduced by Algernon Charles Swinburne.

In practice, it’s essentially a shortened version of the rondeau, retaining the traditional refrains and two-sound rhyme scheme.

Here’s an example of an English roundel.

The Starlit Path to You

These stars that light my way to you
will keep me fast upon my flight.
I follow guides so small, yet true,
these stars that light

my dreams and hopes, forever bright
and I shall never find me blue
despite the curtain of the night.

They are a warm and welcome view
in which you know I find respite.
To practice loving you I woo
these stars, that light.


The English roundelay is a stanzaic form with four rhyming sixains (six-line stanzas) that are usually metric, historically speaking.

The most unique element of the roundelay is not its meter or rhyme scheme, but its heavy reliance on refrains.

In fact, only 12 of the 24 lines are actually original, with a full half of the poem taken up by refrains.

Here’s an example written by John Henry Dryden, which shows exactly that unique feature.


Chloe found Amyntas lying,
All in tears, upon the plain,
Sighing to himself, and crying,
Wretched I, to love in vain!
Kiss me, dear, before my dying;
Kiss me once, and ease my pain.

Sighing to himself, and crying,
Wretched I, to love in vain!
Ever scorning, and denying
To reward your faithful swain.
Kiss me, dear, before my dying;
Kiss me once, and ease my pain.

Ever scorning, and denying
To reward your faithful swain.—
Chloe, laughing at his crying,
Told him, that he loved in vain.
Kiss me, dear, before my dying;
Kiss me once, and ease my pain.

Chloe, laughing at his crying,
Told him, that he loved in vain;
But, repenting, and complying,
When he kissed, she kissed again:
Kissed him up, before his dying;
Kissed him up, and eased his pain.

John Henry Dryden


The sapphic verse is a poem type consisting of four-line stanzas of any number.

The term sapphic is derived from the name of the ancient Greek poet Sappho.

Sapphic verse is largely a form of the past and is significant for its place in human history, rather than for any usage in popular culture.

Ode to Solitude by Alexander Pope is an example of a sapphic poem.

Ode to Solitude

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Alexander Pope


The schuttelreim (literally “Shaking Rhyme”) is a device involving the swapping of sounds in a line that has been in use in German poetry since around the 13th century.

Though its popularity for creating entertaining couplets is relatively recent, having come into prominence around the 19th century.

Just like the limerick, there are entire written collections of schuttelreims in Germany, generally treated as a casual form of entertainment, especially for children.

Here’s an example:

A loud and rambunctious bold cat
may find itself struck with a cold bat.


The sedoka is a Japanese poem form inspired by the traditions of the katuata and mondo.

Structurally each verse is similar to a haiku, at least to western eyes, consisting of 5-7-7 or 5-7-5 syllable structures.

In the following example, the first verse sets up the image, in this case, leaves falling from a tree. The second verse shares a moment of reflection.

Leaves fall from tall oaks,
gently tossed by the soft breeze
as they head for earth.

I watch quietly
knowing that their timely fall
can’t be prevented.


The seguidilla is one of the many poem forms that originated as a class of song before settling into poetry.

The original seguidilla was a type of folk song meant for dance, while the poem form is any number of tightly structured seven-line verses.

This form traces its origins to Spain, where the seguidilla folk songs were played in triple time for dancers in pairs.

This poem below sticks to the two-part structure, utilizing one pair of assonance rhymes on the second and fourth lines, with another on the fifth and seventh lines.

The flutter of a red cape
whispers he was here,
a glimmer of his shadow
left in the mirror.
Shadows of regret
walk behind him soft as silk
with each new footstep.


The senryu is a type of short Japanese poetry that is structurally similar to the haiku but focuses more on human nature than the seasons.

They’re not as bluntly comedic as limericks, but they do tend to be more casual than the haikus we’re more familiar with.

This example below shows exactly how fun and quirky senryus can be.

I grabbed his arm,
loudly declaring my love
for his sister’s feet.


A sestina is a complicated poem type consisting of six sestets (six-line stanzas), usually followed by a three-line conclusion called an envoi.

Sestinas originated with the troubadour poets of medieval Southern France.

Unlike many forms, the sestina was not applauded for its ability to capture a certain feeling or range of topics, but chiefly for its complexity.

It was intentionally created to represent a level of difficulty that only talented poets could aspire to and the form actually has many critics, even in the modern-day.

One of the best sestinas of all time is Paysage Moralisé by W. H. Auden.

Paysage Moralisé

Hearing of harvests rotting in the valleys,
Seeing at end of street the barren mountains,
Round corners coming suddenly on water,
Knowing them shipwrecked who were launched for islands,
We honour founders of these starving cities
Whose honour is the image of our sorrow,

Which cannot see its likeness in their sorrow
That brought them desperate to the brink of valleys;
Dreaming of evening walks through learned cities
They reined their violent horses on the mountains,
Those fields like ships to castaways on islands,
Visions of green to them who craved for water.

They built by rivers and at night the water
Running past windows comforted their sorrow;
Each in his little bed conceived of islands
Where every day was dancing in the valleys
And all the green trees blossomed on the mountains,
Where love was innocent, being far from cities.

But dawn came back and they were still in cities;
No marvellous creature rose up from the water;
There was still gold and silver in the mountains
But hunger was a more immediate sorrow,
Although to moping villagers in valleys
Some waving pilgrims were describing islands …

‘The gods,’ they promised, ‘visit us from islands,
Are stalking, head-up, lovely, through our cities;
Now is the time to leave your wretched valleys
And sail with them across the lime-green water,
Sitting at their white sides, forget your sorrow,
The shadow cast across your lives by mountains.’

So many, doubtful, perished in the mountains,
Climbing up crags to get a view of islands,
So many, fearful, took with them their sorrow
Which stayed them when they reached unhappy cities,
So many, careless, dived and drowned in water,
So many, wretched, would not leave their valleys.

It is our sorrow. Shall it melt? Then water
Would gush, flush, green these mountains and these valleys,
And we rebuild our cities, not dream of islands.

W. H. Auden


The shadorma is supposedly a Spanish verse form consisting of just six lines.

However, it’s nearly impossible to find a source confirming the origins of the poem form.

In any case, the shadorma only seems to be based on syllable counts and is more likely to be a modern response to the haiku’s popularity.

Here’s a nice take on the shadorma:

By daybreak
my eyes bleed buckets
of hot tears,
searing me,
because her hand was mine once,
just to be stolen.

Sicilian Octave

The Sicilian octave is an old, influential Italian verse form often credited as being a precursor to the equally important Petrarchan sonnet.

It consists of eight lines written with a specific rhyme scheme, originally in hendecasyllabic lines (lines with eleven syllables).

Unlike other forms, the Sicilian Octave is not necessarily a poem on its own and can act as a stanza unit used in other poems.

Below is an example that sticks to the old hendecasyllabic lines, though iambic pentameter is always an option when writing this poem form in English.

Despite its age, this form is grand as ever,
as easy to work with as a poem can be.
Centuries later, it’s still rather clever.
Its appeal, as a form, is easy to see.
The ties to history cannot be severed,
nor is it any less impressive to me.
All this time later and still it does never
feel dated, no more than modern poetry.


The sijo is a traditional Korean verse form.

While English practitioners often liken it to a longer haiku, since both are tercets that principally use syllable counts for organization, this is painfully inaccurate after taking all other standards into account.

This poetic form features three lines which are each 14-16 syllables.

Here’s an example:

The fire on the stove dances, perhaps to call upon the pot,
waiting for an iron partner, with which to best perform,
but it often burns the soup, far too eager to impress.

Skeltonic Verse

The Skeltonic verse, also known as tumbling verse, is appropriately named after John Skelton, the poet who first pioneered the form.

It’s written in a unique style that seems to tumble down the page, using long verses with short lines and plenty of rhyme.

Check out this example below:

The Red Bird

The red bird
won’t say a word
that can be heard
until you stir
its drink.
If you think
it will shrink
away today,
let me say,
it shan’t away
so quickly.
It strictly
likes to soar
just a bit more,
shore to shore,
than you’d guess.
No less
than the best
for red wings.
It sings
of golden rings
of shiny things,
but never lands
in the hand.


Slam poetry is a type of competitive poetry that emerged after Marc Kelly Smith started holding competitions in the 1980s, coining the term “poetry slam” for these events.

Slam poems are prepared with an emphasis on vocal delivery and audience engagement.

They’re as much about the performance as the poem.

Here is an example of slam poetry:

Tomorrow is uncertain,
but I’ll push that curtain aside, open wide,
unafraid to pay attention to the me that’s on the way.
I’m here to say that I’ve arrived, that I’ll thrive
in the wastelands my forefathers left
because I am not yet dead,
even if my head is spinning.
But the winning comes later.
And I’m fine with that. I’ll find my future
scattered amidst the broken glass and bullet shells
and duct tape this hell back together again.

We are uncertain now
but they were uncertain then.
If we give up on today, then what about the dead
who paved the way for us to be here
when their futures, like ours were unclear.
We survived wars, bloodshed, pain.
We’re sore but we’ll survive again.

Snam Suad

The snam suad is an eight-line Irish poem form with an aabcdddc rhyme scheme.

It has exactly 24 syllables (three per line) and generally attempts to follow Irish traditions such as cywddydd (harmony of sound) and the inclusion of dunadh (a type of refrain).

Here is an example of a snam suad:

Weakened light,
not too bright,
lost but lit,
Light of day
lost its way,
naught to say,


The soledad is an interesting verse form, having emerged as a tercet form during a timeframe in which Spanish poetry was frequently written in couplets.

Each line of the poem will be eight syllables and each verse will have an internal axa rhyme scheme, in which ‘x’ represents an unrhymed syllable.

Here’s an example of a soledad:

Where from does this wayward form hail?
I search in earnest, burning light,
but am left pondering and pale.


The somonka is a Japanese poem form that consists of two tankas written as love poems to each other.

Traditionally this poem comes from the Japanese traditions of collaborative poetry and would be exchanged between two separate writers.

Here’s an example that goes with old somonka structure.

Your eyes alight me,
like a torch given a name,
embers of its own
with which to follow your gaze,
to trespass by your beauty.

If I do shine bright,
it is to lovingly watch
when you sleep near me,
admiring the peace you bring
wherever your warmth does fall.


Sonnets are a type of formal poem consisting of 14 lines with a strict rhyme scheme and meter.

The most common forms of sonnets are the Petrarchan (aka Italian sonnet) and the Shakespearean (aka English sonnet).

Sonnets written in English are typically written in Iambic pentameter, traditionally, but this is a form that has gone through many permutations. 

Some poets would even go so far as to argue that any metered 14-line poem should be considered a sonnet.

As with most forms, it’s really a matter of perspective.

Elizabeth Browning is one of the most famous sonnet poets in history.

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Browning


The stornello is an Italian verse form that is usually based entirely on rhymed tercets (three-line stanzas).

This form can be traced back to 15th century Italy, when it was predominantly used in improv contests between poets.

This example below is written with two stornellos, utilizes the simplest definition.

Tomorrow will be much shorter than today
if, indeed, I can finally have my say,
for I’d gladly throw some idle hours away.

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the daylight,
but when the sun does shine so brazenly bright,
I cannot rest as easy then as at night.


The Strambotto is one of the earliest and most historically significant Italian verse forms, believed to be an ancestor of the Sicilian Octave which itself influenced the birth of the sonnet.

The Strambotto dates back to at least the 12th century and could still be found set to music many centuries later.

The name “Strambotto” appears to come from estrabot, an Occitan term for emotive poems.

Here’s an example of an English Strambotto Tuscano.

Passing On

We look for songs to share, homes to belong to,
ever expanding our reach as we walk on
toward those horizons so broad and so blue,
regardless of if it be dusk or fresh dawn.
I gladly will take on this journey with you,
until the day comes that we both are long gone.
Let the stories we told and songs we have sung
be passed on then to both the strong and the young.


The séadna is a type of Irish verse written in quatrains.

The lines have alternating lengths and there are various rules regarding the rhymes and syllable counts of the poem.

Techniques common in Gaelic poetry, such as dunadh (a special type of refrain) and cywddydd (harmony of sound), are typically used.

Below is an example of a basic séadna.

Sight out a bucket of yellow.
Swallow the soft sleep of night.
Inflate the great sky ‘til mellow.
Dismiss sorrow’s cloudy sight.


The poem tanka literally means “short poem or song”, with themes that are usually about nature, seasons, and desires.

Hence, tankas tend to evoke strong and powerful imagery.

Tankas are short Japanese poetic free verse that consists of 31 syllables.

They don’t necessarily rhyme, tankas follow a specific syllable pattern.

Soft snow falls outside
whispering like new footsteps
on a hard window
mocking the silence of night
with its still blankets of frost


Tautogram poems are written by starting every word with the same letter.

There are variations on the concept but tautograms have appeared in various written languages over the years all over the world, in one form or another, likely owing to the relative simplicity of the concept.

The following poem could be seen as three short tautogram poems in a row, or as a simple variation on the concept.

A, B, and C

Avaricious and arrogant ants
anxiously aggravate another animal,
always angry, always aggressive.

But bulls barely budge.
Bruised, bitten, bovine bodies
build benevolent bridges.

Cross cow carcasses carefully.
Carelessness creates crisis.
Calmer critters can cross.


The terzanelle is a hybrid of the villanelle and terza rima verse forms, first created by American formalist poet Lewis Turco.

While its heavy use of refrains and physical structure chiefly resemble the villanelle, it takes on some of the freedom and identity of the terza rima, including interlocked rhyme sounds.

The basics of the form are all present and accounted for in the following example.

We Strive

Beneath the vines that hold the fruit up high
you’d find the roots to be a bit too rough
unlike those fruits that hang up in the sky.

The diagnosis proves a touch too tough.
We wonder if the tree itself is sick.
We find the roots to be a bit too rough.

The orchards here are surely nice and thick
and yet this plant yields only here and there.
We wonder if the tree itself is sick.

As farmers, we will gladly primp and care.
Our hands oft touch upon this noble tree
and yet this plant yields only here and there.

Perhaps in harvesttime we’ll start to see.
We strive to save this lovely living thing.
Our hands oft touch upon this noble tree.

We do not know what future days will bring,
beneath the vines that hold the fruit up high.
We strive to save this lovely living thing
unlike those fruits that hang up in the sky.

Terza Rima

Terza rima is a unique poetic form consisting entirely of tercets (three-line stanzas), with a unique rhyme pattern that connects across the stanzas.

While there are many different forms of poetry out there, tercets remain a fairly uncommon length for a stanza, partially because they can be awkward if handled poorly.

A poem written in terza rima gets part of its character from facing this unusual stanza length head-on, demanding that the poet master tercets before they can utilize the form properly.

Robert Frost’s Acquainted with the Night is an example of a terza rima poem.

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost


The Than-Bauk is a Burmese poem consisting of three lines (a tercet), with only four syllables per line.

This makes the relatively unheard of (in Western culture) Than-Bauk even shorter than the widely popular haiku, at just twelve total syllables.

Unlike most other poems of this size, the Than-Bauk actually does utilize rhyme.

Here’s an example of this Burmese poetic form:

When I feel blue,
I renew thoughts
of you and laugh.


The trenta-sei is a relatively complex 36-line poem with a very specific rhyme structure and refrains.

It’s an uncommon example of a complicated modern form, having been created in the 20th century by John Ciardi, a poet mostly known for his translation of The Divine Comedy.

The name trenta-sei is literally Italian for “thirty-six.”

The following example is written by the inventor himself, John Ciardi.

A Trenta-Sei of the Pleasure We Take in the Early Death of Keats

It is old school custom to pretend to be sad
when we think about the early death of Keats.
The species-truth of the matter is we are glad.
Psilanthropic among exegetes,
I am so moved that when the plate comes by
I almost think to pay the God—but why?

When we think about the early death of Keats
we are glad to be spared the bother of dying ourselves.
His poems are a candy store of bitter-sweets.
We munch whole flights of angels from his shelves
drooling a sticky glut, almost enough
to sicken us. But what delicious stuff!

The species-truth of the matter is we are glad
to have a death to munch on. Truth to tell,
we are also glad to pretend it makes us sad.
When it comes to dying, Keats did it so well
we thrill to the performance. Safely here,
this side of the fallen curtain, we stand and cheer.

Psilanthropic among exegetes,
as once in a miles-high turret spitting flame,
I watched boys flower through orange winding sheets
and shammed a mourning because it put a name
to a death I might have taken—which in a way
made me immortal for another day—

I was so moved that when the plate came by
I had my dollar in hand to give to death
but changed to a penny—enough for the old guy,
and almost enough saved to sweeten my breath
with a toast I will pledge to the Ape of the Divine
in thanks for every death that spares me mine.

I almost thought of paying the God—but why?
Had the boy lived, he might have grown as dull
as Tennyson. Far better, I say, to die
and leave us a formed feeling. O beautiful,
pale, dying poet, fading as soft as rhyme,
the saddest music keeps the sweetest time.

John Ciardi


The treochair is an Irish poem form that is traditionally based on accentual syllabic tercets.

The poem as a whole can be any number of tercets, so you only actually need to know how each individual tercet is structured to understand the entire form.

The following example doesn’t adhere strictly to the traditional stress pattern and is undeniably one of the shortest treochairs you’ll ever see

I lament
the time wasted languishing,
lazily dodging the rent.

to my total disregard
for time. Even still, I lament.

Trian Rannaigechta Moire

Trian Rannaigechta Moire is an ancient Celtic poem form that prizes rhymes and consonance.

The form is comprised entirely of quatrains that have an internal xABA rhyme structure, in which ‘B’ will correspond to a syllable in the middle of the last line if certain conditions are met.

Here’s an example of trian rannaigechta moire:

Fall fast and firm,
gripping the ground.
Rinse and repeat,
your feet not found.
The human heart
is dear and dumb.
Veiled in veneer,
so near yet numb.


Tricubes are an interesting poem form if only for the interesting concept.

Three stanzas with three lines each that in turn have three syllables each.

The poem literally represents the mathematical concept of cubing in its structure.

The following example is meant to show the upper limit of narrative you can expect from a tricube.

His Gloves

His work gloves
feel so tight
on my hands.

Did they fit
his thick wrists
when he lived?

If time stopped
on that day
I’d have asked.


The trimeric is a recent invention by a poet whose pen name is Dr. Charles A. Stone.

It has four stanzas, a quatrain, and three tercets, with each stanza utilizing a refrain carried over from a corresponding line in the first stanza.

As you might expect from a relatively new form, the trimeric doesn’t have a lengthy history or a family with various branches to describe.

The trimeric below uses a minimalistic style to show off the synergy but go ahead and make the form your own if this style doesn’t work for you.

Your Whisper

I hear your whisper
the music from on high
a rush of blood
memories of the past

the music from on high
calls out your name
into my weary ears

a rush of blood
where your fair skin
grazed mine once

memories of the past
weigh me down
surrounded by whispers


A triolet poem is a short, eight-line French verse that uses the ABaAabAB rhyming scheme.

The triolet is most closely related to the French rondeau and its relatives, French forms that heavily utilize refrains.

Thomas Hard’s How Great My Grief is a classic example of triolet poetry.

How Great My Grief

How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Nor memory shaped old times anew,
Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee?

Thomas Hardy


The tripadi is a short verse form hailing from the Bengali region of India, currently known as Bangladesh.

The form is considered to be one line broken up into three, even though it’s almost always written out as three.

It’s worth recognizing that while the poem is written entirely in tercets (usually), it is not a predefined number of tercets.

The poem can go on for as long as the writer prefers.

Check out this example:

In haste we go to battle now,
knowing we will emerge somehow,
with both our honor and our humble homes.

For however great the hardship,
not a moment shall we let slip
our dedication to those we hold dear.

Let these vast unkind battles rage
but ‘tis we who will turn the page,
all refreshed, fiery pride in our eyes.


The viator is a type of poem invented by the 20th-century Canadian poet Robin Skelton that relies heavily on the continued repetition of a single refrain throughout the poem.

Unlike various other refrain-based poems, there are no particular expectations for meter or rhyme scheme.

Check out this example below:

Day at the Office

The keyboard goes clickety-clack
as time ticks down on the clock.
It all fills up the old office now,
the doors long since locked.

Time passes slowly now.
The keyboard goes clickety-clack.
A dozen or so worker drones
pouring their lives into their Macs.

We wait again for the day to end
so that we can all go home.
The keyboard goes clickety-clack
but we all feel so alone.

If that clock doesn’t break soon
then a few of us might crack.
Still we loyally do the math.
The keyboard goes clickety-clack.


Villanelles have 5 3-line stanzas, followed by a single 4-line stanza, for a total of 19 lines.

They feature a strict, unforgiving rhyme scheme of ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA. Line 1 is repeated three more times, on lines 6, 12, and 18. Line 3 is similarly repeated on lines 9, 15, and 19.

Sounds oddly specific, right? That’s because it is.

Writing a villanelle in English is a miserable experience and writing a GOOD villanelle is nearly impossible without witchcraft. 

A truly masterful villanelle will arrange the lines such that the repeated lines have a new meaning and fresh impact each time they’re read.

Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas is one excellent example of a top-tier villanelle that uses the form’s repetition to emphasize recurring thoughts.

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 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.

Dylan Thomas


The virelai originates from France around the 13th-14th century.

It typically stands as a narrative form, written in nine-line stanzas (nonets), with precise syllable counts and rhyme scheme.

It is a member of the “lai” family of forms and is itself an expanded form of the preexisting lai.

The example below is a fairly simple three-verse virelai.

She looks full of glee
but I’ll wait to see
her grin.
If it’s not for me
then we shall not be
For I paid the fee
the last time that we
did sin.

Take love for a spin.
Maybe even win.
But wait.
Don’t sink too far in,
steeped in scent of gin.
Your fate
will seem awful thin
if your hopes are pinned
on dates.

Watch for a bad trait.
Don’t ask about weight.
lovers may stay up late.
Know at any rate
that she
may just clean her plate,
thank you for the date,
and flee.


Vocabularycleft poems are a type of found poetry in which a poem is separated into its individual words, and others are then challenged to reassemble the words into a new poem.

This poem type was proposed in 1969 by Howard Bergerson.

It only really had notoriety within the Word Ways community, the publication in which the form was proposed.

Here is the poem we’ll be borrowing:

From time to time
The clouds give rest
To the moon-beholders

First, create an alphabetical list of words that you take out from that poem. Next, create a new poem that uses all the words in this list.

To beholders from the moon:
Give time to rest
Time the clouds


The waka is a type of Japanese poem form consisting of a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable structure.

The poet is generally expected to divide waka into two distinct sections, usually signified in English by a hard stop of some kind, such as a period or semi-colon.

This division is between the first three lines and the final couplet.

Look to the red sky
as sunset calls the old names
of forgotten men.
Soldiers who died in long wars
begging the now living to learn.


The Waltmarie is a very new poetic form that utilizes ten lines with exactly two syllables on each even-numbered line, but no restrictions on the odd lines.

It was invented by a member of the Poetic Asides community named Candace Kubinec.

Here’s an example of a Waltmarie that does feature rhyme, but only on a few lines, resulting in a rhyme scheme of AxAxBxBxx, where each ‘x’ marks an unrhymed line.

In Silence

Beneath the grand veneer of a plastic grin
dissatisfaction is setting in
surround the rooms we visit
us as we wander and fidget
in the long and dark


The ya-du is a Burmese stanzaic verse form dedicated to the seasons and the feelings they evoke.

This may sound somewhat similar to a traditional Japanese haiku in theming, but the expected structure is very different.

Interestingly, the poem did not initially have a certain structure.

Here’s an example of this poetic form.

Frost on a tree.
It will be cold
but we will live.
Winter’s brisk kiss
gently leads to this.


Zappai are a poem form that is similar to haikus or senryus.

They have the same 5-7-5 structure but do not adhere to any of the other rules of either form, namely the theming.

Zappai poems are distinctly humorous whereas haikus (traditionally) reference the seasons.

Check out this funny zappai below.

I hate flamingoes.
When we discuss them, I’m quick
to put my foot down.


The zéjel is an old Spanish form that has relations to the Arabic qasida.

There’s even an Arabic variant of the form called the zahal.

While it isn’t entirely clear when the poem jumped from language to language, it seems to have been adopted by Spanish troubadours around the 15th century.

Below is an example that showcases the unexpected rhyme scheme.

All around me, devastation,
the stench of deforestation,
mocking crudely all creation.

The woods I knew, no longer here.
Silently, I shed a single tear.
Yet there is no anger nor fear.
Only quiet trepidation.

Living within the ruins now
of memories that bend and bow,
vivid yet derelict somehow.
Blinded by this situation.