Structure & Content of Different Types of Poems

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Poetry comes in many forms. Some poets use structured patterns of rhyme and meter, while other forms of poetry do not adhere to any type of standard configuration. In this lesson, we will learn more about different types of poetry.

Meter and Rhyme

How is a poem different from other forms of literature? In poetry, word choices are made to express passionate feelings and ideas. While some forms of poetry are marked by strict adherence to patterns of meter and rhyme, other forms are written in prose. Let's look at some different types of poetry.

Traditional Poems

Traditional Poems use consistent meter throughout the work, as opposed to the inconsistent meter of nontraditional free verse poems. Not all traditional poems rhyme, but those that do use consistent rhyming patterns as well. Some examples of traditional poems include acrostic, clerihew, and haiku.

  • Acrostic poems use the letters of a word written vertically as the first letter in each line of the poem. For example, here is an acrostic called, 'Vote'.

Value your rights.

Observe community needs.

Think through issues.

Examine your choices.

  • Clerihew are 4-lined, humorous verses about a person. This form of poetry is named after Edmund Clerihew Bentley, who devised the Clerihew style. The basic rules for a Clerihew are that it has four lines, has an AA, BB rhyme pattern, uses the name of the person it is about in the first line, and is comical.
  • Haiku is a Japanese poem that consists of three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables for a total of seventeen syllables. Sometimes, authors will rhyme the first and third line, but rhyming is not necessary.

Dozens of other traditional poem types exist, each distinguished from the other based on their distinct patterns.

Pastoral Poems

Some poems are not distinguished by their patterns, but by the subject patter. Pastoral poems focus on the simplicity of country life. Typically, rural life is idealized in pastoral poems; specifically, the life of a shepherd is heralded over the vices of city life. An idyll poem is a type of pastoral poem in which short and descriptive verses provide imagery for the reader about the beauty of the natural world within a rural setting.

Concrete Poetry

Sometimes the word arrangement of a poem contributes to its imagery. Concrete poetry is also called visual poetry. Concrete poetry arranges the word of a poem in such a way that the words themselves create an image or shape. Concrete poetry is traditionally used for religious subjects.

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