Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls
In the simplest form, poetry can be defined as a form of literature containing an expression of feelings, emotions or experiences. One of the greatest distinction of poetry from prose is that poetry is written in metrical form. We often read a poem but do not know that it belongs to a particular poetic genre. Let us know more about the all different types of poems.
Types Of Poems
Acrostic: The word acrostic literally means a puzzle where you fill a square grid with words reading the same down as across. An acrostic poem is defined as a verse where the first letters (alphabets) of every line when read down form a single word or a message.
Ballad: Ballad is one of the most popular types of poems that tells a story. It is narrative and often contains recurrent refrain. Today Ballads are often misinterpreted as love songs.
e.g- Ballad of Semmerwater (Sir William Watson) or the Ballad of Father Gilligan (W. B. Yeats).
Blank Verse: This is a poetry form without a rhyme but containing a specific meter, i.e iambic pentameter.
e.g- All the verses in Shakespearean plays.
Burlesque: It is a type of poem where a serious subject is treated in a humorous, impudent and exaggerated manner. Burlesque is most used as theatrical entertainment.
e.g- Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
Canzone: The word Canzone means song in Italian. It is an Italian type of poem like a lyric, containing 5-6 stanzas. Canzone often has a short concluding stanza.
e.g- Sonnet XIII by Petrarch
Cinquain: A Cinquain is a poem of 5 lines of varied length and rhyme. The distinct feature of a Cinquain is that the first line consists of 1 word, the second of 2 words and so on.
Couplet: Couplet is a type of poem that contains only two lines that have rhyming words. Couplet is one of the terms of poetry.
e.g- Wit is like faith by such warm Fools profest
Who to be saved by one, must damn the rest.
Diamante Poem: This is one of the less popular types of poems. It consists of 7 lines structured in a specific manner. The first and the last line consists of only word; the second and the sixth line of 2 words; the third and the fifth line consists of 3 words; while the middle line contains four words. The verses of this poem resemble a diamond.
Elegy: An elegy is a sad and melancholic poem, usually about the death of an individual. Funeral poems or elegy is one of the most popular formats used in funeral and memorial services today.
e.g- Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (Thomas Gray)
Epic: An epic is a very long poem that contains story of the life of a heroic figure or a mythological character. Epic is a very old form of poetry.
e.g- Iliad, Odyssey (Homer), Mahabharata (Veda Vyaas) and Ramayana.
Free Verse: It is a type of poem that may or may not have a specific rhyme scheme or meter. The poet has a freedom to make use of any poetic devices in the poem.
e.g- Prometheus (Goethe)
Ghazal: It is a form of poetry common in Arabic, Persian and Urdu literature. A single Ghazal has 5-15 rhyming couplets that are usually based on the theme of love or divinity. The closing couplet often has the poet's signature.
e.g- Mirza Ghalib was a popular Ghazal poet.
Haiku: It is a Japanese type of poem containing three lines with 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively that are not rhymed. Haiku poems also contain a cutting word (kireji) and a season word (kigo).
e.g- Poems of Matsuo Bashō
Idyll Poem: It is a short poem that describes pastoral life in idealized terms. It can also be a poem that tells a story about ancient heroes.
e.g- The Solitary Reaper (William Wordsworth)
Jintishi: It is a type of Chinese poem based on the four traditional tones. It generally has 8 lines that are in the form of 4 couplets. These poems are based on a variety of themes and subjects.
e.g- Du Fu was a famous poet who wrote Jintishi poems.
Lay: It is a long and narrative poem consisting of frequent refrains.
Limerick: A limerick is a form of poem that is humorous and witty and even obscene at times. It consists of a strict rhyme scheme.
e.g- Book of Nonsense (Edward Lear)
Lyric: It is a type of poem that resembles a song where the poet expresses his feelings and emotions, directly to the reader.
e.g- If (Rudyard Kipling)
Minnesang: It is a type of song that originated in Germany around 12th century. The theme or the subject of this poetry is love.
Narrative Poetry: A narrative is long and complex poem that has a plot or a story. There is a regular pattern of rhyme in this type of poem. Ballad, Idyll and epic are the different types of poems that fall in the category of narrative poetry.
e.g- Idylls of the King (Tennyson)
Ode: An Ode is a type of poem that is similar to lyric, but is serious and thoughtful. It is in the form of verses that are framed in three parts.
e.g- Ode to the West Wind (P.B. Shelley)
Pantoum: This poem type is similar to villanelle and it follow a specific pattern. The second and the fourth line of each stanza is repeated as the first and third line of the next stanza.
Pastourelle: It is a type of poem that usually depicts the life and romance of shepherds. It is an old French type of poem and is also known as pastoral poem.
Ruba'i: Ruba'i is a quatrain or a four line poem. This poem type is popularized by Arabian and Persian poets.
e.g- Omar Khayyam's poems.
Rondeau: It is one of the French poem types consisting of 13-15 lines. The significant features of this poem include presence of only 2 rhymes and repetition of first line as refrain.
Satirical Poetry: It is a type of poem that uses satire to mock injustice or any political issues.
e.g- Juvenal's Satires.
Sestina (Sestine): This is a type of poem with 6 stanzas. The lines are not rhymed but the end word of every line in the first stanza appears in other stanzas.
e.g- Ye Goat-Herd Gods (Philip Sidney)
Sijo: It is a Korean type of poem like a lyric of 3 lines. It has a pause after every line.
Sonnet: In simple terms, a sonnet can be defined as a poem of 14 lines. Sonnets are further divided as Shakespearean sonnets (3 quatrains and 1 couplet) and Italian sonnets (2 quatrains and a sestet)
e.g- Let me not to the marriage of true minds (Shakespeare)
Stave (Stev): It is a lyric like poetry from Scandinavia that usually has stanzas of four lines and one stressed syllable.
Tanka: It is a Japanese type of poem of 5 lines. The first and the third line of Tanka has 5 syllables whereas the rest 3 lines have 7 syllables.
e.g- To live is to break (Ueda Miyoji)
Villanelle: This is a 19 line poem having 5 triplets and a quatrain. There are refrains used in the initial stanza and again at the end of the quatrain.
e.g- Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas)
All different types of poems enliven or mesmerize the readers. Poetry is a medium to express all forms of emotions and feelings and hence, it touches the heart of the reader. It is no wonder known as the oldest and the most popular form of literature.