114 Types of Poems

These are the 114 types of poems.

From Abecedarian to Villanelle.

So if you want to learn all about the different types of poems, then this article is for you.

Let’s dig right in!

21 Types of Poems (+ Vital Examples).

Different Poem Types and Examples?

An open book, a yellow quill pen, a bouquet of lilacs and lilies of the valley on wooden desk.

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

Letters of the alphabet scattered on pink surface, a clean notebook and a pencil below them.

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

Shadow of red vase with flowers, notepad, pen.

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

Alice Pleasance Liddell

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

Beautiful woman in dress running in the mountains.

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.

Anagrammatic

An old antique typewriter found in flowers.

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

Anaphora

Fountain pen on an antique vintage paper.

Anaphora is the purposeful repetition of words at the beginnings of clauses in a written piece, usually to provide emphasis.

Anaphora derives its name from a Greek word meaning “carrying back” which references the way each new clause carries back a handful of words.

London, a poem written by William Blake, is a classic example of anaphora poetry.

London

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every blackning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born Infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

William Blake

Ars Poetica

Tulip flowers and pink book on vintage wooden table.

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
things?

Yone Noguchi

Awdl Gywydd

Blue desk with cup of coffee, paper notepad and flowers.

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?

Ballad

Workspace with blank paper ,acoustic guitar and dried flowers

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.

Ballade

Old written works, vintage feather pen, keys, and pocket watch.

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

Barzelletta

Female quartet playing music in nature by the lake.

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

An ink well with drops of ink and a nib pen on a dark rustic background.

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

William Shakespeare

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

Blitz

New York City night street scene at Chelsea Pier with blurred lights.

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
City…
Streets…

Bob and Wheel

Cheerful woman writing in notebook and smiling on bench outdoors.

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

Blues

Afro-American man playing the piano.

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

Bop

Beautiful young female writer at a cafe in deep thought.

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.

Breccbairdne

Young woman writes at her old diary with autumn leaves.

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

Vintage notebook, pencil, and candle lantern with dried leaves on wooden table.

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

Byr a Thoddaid

Woman in white writing while sitting on a low-lying tree.

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

Beautiful Forget-me-not flowers, blank paper and feather pen.

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

Cascade

Notebook with a cup and glasses on top and autumn leave on windowsill.

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

An empty notebook covered with cherry flowers on a wooden table.

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.

Cento

Old books and autumn leaves.

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

Tea cup, bouquet of daisies and book on table in garden.

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

Woman spinning a coin to make decision.

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

Chanso

Young beautiful woman writing outdoors in golden autumn park.

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

Chant

beautiful girl young woman in white dress on the beach with dreamcatcher

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

Beautiful young womanin boho style at sunset

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.

Cinquain

Reed in the wind in the winter landscape of the haiku.

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

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

Adelaide Crapsey

Clerihew

dreamy young girl writing on the grass.

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.

Clogyrnach

happy redhead woman in a dress holding a book and sitting under a tree.

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

Vintage old books and aged black typewriter with paper blank on desk

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.

Contrapuntal

Girl reading a book on the grass by the river in summer.

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

Beautiful first blossom spring flowers snowdrops in forest

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.

Curtal Sonnet

Woman reading book while sitting on wheat field

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

pair of scissors, newspaper clippings alphabet with letters

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.

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

Cyhydedd Fer

Notebooks, pen and dry pink flowers

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

Elegant young woman in blue denim jeans writes in noteboo

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

Girl with a notebook and a pen in her hands outdoors.

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

blank page note, pen and a beautiful red rose on rustic blue table.

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

Red-haired girl in vintage style reads a book in the woods
my lover won’t marry

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

beautiful city terrace with pots of succulents, notepad, and a pen for poetry.

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.

Tomorrow

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

Woman writes in her note book phrases and thoughts outdoors

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.

Dada

Black frame hanging on white brick wall with word dadaism.

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

Dansa

Beautiful yellow summer plants and empty notepad

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

White chrysanthemums and an old book

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

Young woman with wild flowers leaning against a tree in nature.

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

Lily of valleys, blank notepad and pens on sackcloth texture

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.
Plan
for happy
times ahead with this sappy
fool following beside you,
too.
My dearest.
I will bring out your clearest
smile, if any lover can,
Ann.

Décima

female hand touching the flowers in the field.

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.

Descort

medieval woman playing the violin on the hillside.

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.

Diminishing Verse

A young lady in a white dress reads a book on the grass.

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.

Dizain

woman writing diary by the lake in the early cold morning.

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.

Dodoitsu

reflection in foggy water, kinrinko, oita, japan

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.

Doha

Beautiful nature, in Northern India

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

Beautiful woman writer writing with pen autumn story in her notebook.

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
Idiosyncrasy,
Didn’t do much.

John Hollander

Dramatic Monologue

 Medieval woman in the autumn forest

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

Droighneach

beautiful hippie girl sitting on a stump near the pond.

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

white book with yellow flower on wooden table outdoor

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
Find
the better part of me
Me
within the space within
In
each and every one of these
These
shapes and shades and lines
Lines

Ekphrastic

Quill pen and a stack of old books by candle light.

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

Elegy

beautiful sunset scenery, red flowers in the field.

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

Epic

Odyssey and the suitors of Penilope.

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.

Homer

Epigram

Chalk-written loudspeaker and inscription epigram on black chalkboard

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

A letter and a rose

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

Epitaph

White rose on grey granite tombstone.

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

Erasure

woman writing in bed

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.

Fibonacci

Lovely young girl sitting on grass at the park

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:

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

Flamenca

Beautiful woman in a hat with bouquet of cherry branches enjoying the blooming spring.

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

Opened book with flowers inserted in between pages outdoor in autumn.

“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

words cut out from magazine

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

 Feather in child's hands as a symbol of writing poetry.

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.

Mirror

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

Ghazal

Night sky in Moroccan desert.

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.

Glosa

Girl looking at the view from a balcony at sunrise.

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

Golden Shovel

beautiful fairy-like woman in snow covered forest.

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.

Haibun

a stunning japanese girl outdoor in springtime

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.

Haiku

Haiku written on a piece of white stone on the beach.

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

Vase with pretty dried flowers, woman writing in the background.

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.

Huitain

pensive pretty girl holding a pen and notepad outdoor.

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.

Imayo

Cherry blossoms and notebook on wood table.

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

United States Capitol during Winter season.

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

woman in flowy white dress walking in the desert in daylight

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

attractive young woman in white dress reading outdoor in the meadow with yellow wild flowers.

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

Jueju

a woman in pink Chinese traditional costume with Chinese writing.

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.

One-Hearted

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)

Katuata

pretty asian girl relaxing nature in autumn

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?

Kimo

Diary, reading glasses, Jasmine flowers on the park bench.

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.

Kuota

Cherry blossoms, notepad, and a pencil on wooden desk

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

young pensive woman holding a pen

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.

Kyrielle

 A girl is reading a book next to her bicycle out in the green field.

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.

Distractions

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

beautiful young red-haired woman with a book

The lai is a type of poem originating from France and it is very, very old.

Old enough that there’s quite a fair bit of confusion as to what a lai is and is not, but the most agreed-upon definition refers to a form based on three-line units and an AAB rhyme scheme.

It is not to be confused with the Breton lay or the virelai ancient.

Below is a poem written in the lai form.

Staying In

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

Landay

Cute Afro American young woman writing on the sofa.

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.

Limerick

dictionary definition of the word limerick

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

Young woman with red nail polish writes in her diary

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

Asian woman looking at pretty bright lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam

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

Open poetry book and flowers

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

Madrigal

lady in white dress with regal white horse on the beach

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

Beautiful happy woman carrying a purple book in a wheat field.

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.

Metered

Red rose on a poem

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

Minimalism

Quill pen for writing poetry

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

Minute

Young beautiful asian woman in long red dress near the reeds over winter.

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

Young blond woman writing working on laptop in cafe

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

Mondo

Beautiful oriental woman with Japanese parasol under the willow tree

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.

Monostich

Vintage burned paper and antique key surrounded by green jewelry and peacock feathers.

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

pretty writer by the river in nature.

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.

Nashers

redhead lady writing on table at home smiling

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.

Nonce

female hands with red nails typing on vintage typewriter

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.

Nonet

girl with pen writing on notebook on grass outside.

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
simply
write.

Novem

Asian woman sitting on wood bridge working on laptop, a beautiful tree behind her.

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.

Occasional

Decorated outdoor wedding table with flowers in rustic style

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.

Ode

A vintage pen sitting on top of the piano keys.

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

Woman wearing chinese traditional dress standing on wooden foot bridge in the middle of a picturesque lake.

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.

Pantoum

Batu caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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

Pastoral

Young woman stroking a brown sheep on a farm

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

Patchwork

Lily of the valley in cup and books on white table, green natural background.

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

Beautiful Thai woman offering a bouquet of lotus flowers to the golden Buddha.

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.

Prose

Old book with cup of tea and cherry tree flowers on breakfast table in the garden.

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

Renga

notebook with white quill pen and yellow flowers on wooden rustic table

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.

Rhyming

Black small letters on the blank pages of the book and surrounding space.

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

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

Rondeau

Medieval Woman with Vintage Lantern Outside at Night

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

Sapphic

Open old book, feather, clock, ink and candle on dark wooden background.

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

Sestina

A renaissance guitar and old books on wooden platform

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

Sonnet

 poetry books and decorative dried flowers in glass bottle

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

Tanka

Beautiful tree in the middle of snowy mountain

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

Terza Rima

Cozy desk setup, with open books, a cup of coffee, and flowers.

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

Triolet

Love letter with a pink flower

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

Villanelle

A lovely girl in red is walking on the street with a boquet of red roses in a romantic mood before the sunset

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