Have you ever heard a poem so mesmerizing that it left you in a state of euphoria? Perhaps you read a poem so sad that it brought you to tears. With a thorough understanding of the different types of poems, you too can write poetry that uplifts or invokes empathy. Here are the different types of poems, including their rhyme scheme and examples.
With this poetic style, you do not have to follow any type of line, meter, or rhyme requirement. Prose is the style of essays and short stories where you write with sentences and paragraphs rather than verses.
- “Doing” by Rosmarie Waldrop
- “Warning to the Reader” by Robert Bly
- “Prose Poem: The Morning Coffee” by Ron Padgett
This type of poetry requires three lines of 17 syllables with the following rhyme scheme:
- 1st line: Five syllables
- 2nd line: Seven syllables
- 3rd line: Five syllables
- “Beetles on My Plants” by Anonymous
- “January” by Paul Holmes
- “Tobacco” by Sara Kendrick
As its name suggests, free verse poetry features no fixed rhyme or meter of stressed/unstressed syllables.
- “Fog” by Carl Sandburg
- “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
- “The Fish” by Marianne Moore
Unlike other types of poems, an epic poem is long in nature and is typically about a hero who goes on an epic adventure. Another fun fact? It is also one of the oldest narrative poems.
- “The Odyssey” by Homer
- “The Iliad” by Homer
- “Beowulf” by Anonymous
This is one of the types of poems that you compose in conversational iambic pentameter (ten stresses and five beats). You have no stanza or rhyme requirement.
- “Rain” by Edward Thomas
- “Directive” by Robert Frost
- “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
This is a brief narrative poem about a particular person or event that you typically write in four-line stanzas. You alternate between iambic tetrameter in the first and third lines and iambic trimeter in the second and fourth lines. You can use either of these rhyme schemes: abab, abcb, or abac.
- “Sorceress Supreme” by Manya Saxena
- “Because Mental Health Is Often Unseen” by David Boyce
- “Homelessness” by Noal Greenwood.
A sestina, one of the French poetic forms, is composed of 39 lines. You create it with six stanzas of six lines followed by a three-line (tercet) envoi or dedication to someone. While you do not have to rhyme, you do need repetition. You use the measure of iambic pentameter.
Follow this model where the letters represent the metric pattern of repetition:
Stanza 1: ABCDEF
Stanza 2: FAEBDC
Stanza 3: CFDABE
Stanza 4: ECBFAD
Stanza 5: DEACFB
Stanza 6: BDFECA
- Line 1: –F–B
- Line 2: –A–D
- Line 3: –E–C
You repeat all six refrains of the first stanza in a different order in each of the subsequent five stanzas. In the last three lines, repeat the six refrains in the middle and end of the three lines. You will have two refrains per line of the ending three-line stanza.
- “After the Trial” by Weldon Kees
- “The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina” by Miller Williams
- “Sestina” by Elizabeth Bishop
This is a humorous type of poem created with five lines. Most nursery rhymes are a limerick. Here are the schemes of a limerick poem:
- Meter Scheme: 13 beats. You have three beats in the first, second, and fifth lines and two beats in the third and fourth lines.
- Syllable Scheme: Eight or nine syllables in first, second, and fifth lines and five or six syllables in third and fourth lines.
- Rhyme Scheme: aabba.
- “How Awkward When Playing With Glue” by Constance Levy
- “There was an Old Man with a Beard” by Edward Lear
- “I’d Rather Have Fingers Than Toes”
This is a melancholy poem that centers around a significant other or a prestigious person to express grief. You use no repetition in this form of poem. You format this as a quatrain (four lines) with an open rhyme scheme such as abab or aabb.
- “On My First Son” by Ben Johnson
- “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter” by John Crowe Ransom
- “R. Alcona to J. Brenzaida” by Emily Bronte
Ode, which translates to “song,” is a lyric poem form with an exalting tone. You compose an ode by including an introduction, climax, and conclusion to honor a hero or significant event. The three types of odes are the Pindaric or Regular, the Horatian or Homostrophic, and the irregular.
The Pindaric includes strophe and antistrophe, which have the same rhyme scheme, and epode, which has a different rhyme scheme. With the irregular ode, you are free to choose your own length, rhyme scheme, and meter.
- “To Autumn” by John Keats
- “The Bridge: To Brooklyn Bridge” by Hart Crane
- “Ode To the Elephant” (English translation) by Pablo Neruda
With a villanelle, you will need nine lines, which you divide this into five tercets (three-line stanzas) followed by one quatrain (four-line stanza). The rhyme scheme of each stanza is aba, where “a” and “a” are the two rhyming words. You should write in iambic pentameter using five stresses with 2-syllable beats, stressing the second syllable more than the first.
This is the intricate metric pattern of repetition to follow where A1 and A2 are the refrains :
Tercet Stanza 1: A1-b-A2
Tercet Stanza 2: a-b-A1
Tercet Stanza 3: a-b-A2
Tercet Stanza 4: a-b-A1
Tercet Stanza 5: a-b-A2
Quatrain Stanza: a-b-A1-A2
To break this down:
- In the first stanza of three lines, you establish a phrase to repeat (refrain) in the first and third lines.
- Repeat refrain from the first line of the first stanza in the third line of the second and fourth stanzas.
- Repeat refrain from the third line of the first stanza in the third line of the third and fifth stanzas.
- Repeat refrain from the first and third lines of first stanza in the last two lines of the sixth stanza.
- “The House on the Hill” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
- “Condemned Site” by Mona Van Duyn
- “I Understand” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Another form of poetry with a French origin is acrostic. In this type of poem, the first letter of each line to spell a word. Then, you follow these initial letters with a description of your word. No line requirement, meter, or rhyme scheme is necessary.
Washes away impurities
Narrative poetry is divided into four types: Epic, ballad, idyll, and lay. Unlike other types of poems that have a specific rhyme scheme requirement, narrative poetries do not have one.
- “A Visit from St. Nicolas” by Clement Clarke Moore
- “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
- “The Rave” by Edgar Allan Poe
Of all of the types of poems, this is the most artistic because you can arrange words to create the shape of an object. This is why concrete poems are also referred to as shape poems or typography. Keep in mind that you are not bound to a set meter or rhyme scheme. Instead, you focus on space and word positioning to draw in your readers.
- “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath
- “Swan and Shadow” by John Hollander
- “Footprint” (Unknown author)
- “Easter Wings” by George Herbert
This is a 14-line type of poem that consists of three quatrains (four-line stanzas) and two couplets (two-line stanzas). You write this using iambic pentameter. The English (Shakespearean) sonnet follows the following rhyme scheme:
- “I Saw, Sweet Licia, When the Spider Ran” by Giles Fletcher
- “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
- “The Sonnet-Ballad” by Gwendolyn Brooks
When you hear “epitaph,” your mind goes straight to a short inscription on a tombstone. You may have also read epitaph poems in the brochures that are passed out at funeral services. To create a respectful epitaph, it is important to briefly summarize what makes the deceased one special. There is no set meter or specific rhyme scheme to follow.
- “Epitaph on the Tombstone of a Child, the Last of Seven That Died Before” by Aphra Behn
- “Fairest Diana: An Epitaph for Princess Diana” by Michael R. Burch
- “Epitaph for a Darling Lady” by Dorothy Parker
Ghazal, a poem type with Arabian origin, depicts romance and loss. You create a Ghazal with 5 to 10 couplets (2 line stanzas). The English version has no meter. This is the rhyme scheme to follow:
You write this by establishing the rhyme and repeated end words (refrain) in the first couplet. In the remaining couplets, you only repeat the refrain, preceded by the rhyming word, at the end of the second line. The last couplet often mentions the author’s name.
- “Even the Rain” by Agha Shahid Ali
- “Ghazal: The Dark Times” by Marilyn Hacker
- “The Ghazal of What Hurt” by Peter Cole
This is a long, dramatic, and lyrical internal dialogue that, unlike a monologue, is not addressed to any other character. There is no set rhyme or meter requirement, and you can write a soliloquy in prose or verse form.
- “To Be Or Not To Be” (From Shakespeare’s Hamlet)
- “Soliloquy On An Empty Purse” by Mary Jones
- “O Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Romeo” (From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)