Forms of Poetry

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Forms of Poetry

Forms of Poetry

What you’ll most likely notice first about a poem is its form, or the distinctive way the words are arranged on the page. Included in a poem’s form are its graphic elements, such as the length and placement of lines and the way they are grouped into stanzas. Similar to a paragraph in narrative writing, each stanza conveys a unified idea and contributes to a poem’s overall meaning. 

Poems can be traditional or organic in form. Regardless of its structure, though, a poem’s form is often deliberately chosen to echo its meaning.

1-TRADITIONAL 

Characteristics
  • follows fixed rules, such as a specified number of lines 
  • has a regular pattern of rhythm and rhyme 
  • includes the following forms: sonnet, ode, haiku, limerick, ballad, and epic
Example
Does the road wind up-hill all the way? 
        Yes, to the very end. 
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day? 
        From morn to night, my friend. 
        —from “Up-hill” by Christina Rossetti

2-ORGANIC

Characteristics
  • does not have a regular pattern of rhythm and may not rhyme 
  • may use unconventional spelling, punctuation, and grammar 
  • includes the following forms: free verse and concrete poetry
Example
wear your colors 
like a present person 
                        today is 
                        here & now 
—from “Look Not to Memories” 
            by Angela de Hoyos

MODEL 1: TRADITIONAL FORM

The following two stanzas are from an ode, a complex lyric poem that addresses a serious theme, such as justice, truth, or the passage of time. While odes can follow just about any structure, “The Fire of Driftwood” is traditional in form because of its regular stanzas, rhythm, and rhyme. Here, the speaker—the voice that talks to the reader—sadly reflects on how he and his friends have grown apart. 

ode


MODEL 2: ORGANIC FORM

This poem is written in free verse, with no regular pattern of rhythm and rhyme. Notice how its form differs from that of Longfellow’s poem.

free verse

More Examples of Different Forms of Poetry 

1-Lyrics

A lyric poem expresses a speaker’s emotions or thoughts.

lyric poem
This stanza from Christina Rossetti’s “A Birthday” expresses the speaker’s joy.

2-Free Verse

Poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme is called free verse.
Free Verse

3-Haiku

A haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables.
There are five syllables each in lines 1 and 3 and seven syllables in line 2.
Haiku

4-Sonnets

A sonnet is a fourteen-line lyric poem. As lyric poetry, sonnets usually focus on a strong emotion.
sonnet

5-Catalog Poems

A catalog poem presents a list of many different images.

Catalog Poems
This section of “To Penshurst,” by Ben Jonson, catalogs the fruits that grow in a country house’s garden. What fruits does Jonson list?

6-Ballads

A ballad is a song that tells a story.
Ballads


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Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎

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