Basic Elements of Poetry :

by Robert Gardiner   Sep 22, 2005

Basic Elements of Poetry : Rhythm, Rhyme and Imagery:

Poetry, unlike other literary forms, focuses most sharply on language itself. The music of words, how they sound, how their sounds flow and mix and form musical patterns are vital to poetry. Writer A.S. Rosenthal said, “Far from being incidental, qualities of sound and rhythm give a poetic work its organic body.” Poets must use all the physical attributes of words: their sound, size, shape, and rhythms.

If the music of poetry is its life-blood, images give poetry its soul. Although you can write a successive poem without imagery, the best poems come alive with simile, metaphor, symbolism, and use of personification. Be alert to images in poems you read, and try to include some original imagery in your own poems. Keep in mind that imagery is the language of dreams. When you write with imagery you bring the magic and mystery of dreamscapes to your writing. As poet, William Greenway, said “images can communicate the unsayable, so show don’t tell.”

Rhythm can be defined as the flow of stressed and unstressed syllables to create oral patterns. To achieve rhythm, English poets have traditionally counted three things:

1. the number of syllables in a line

2. the number of stressed or accented syllables

3. the number of individual units of both stressed and unstressed syllables.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, rhyme is “ a regular recurrence of corresponding sounds” which occurs usually at the end of a line. There are three main types of end-rhymes:

1. True rhyme (also called masculine) occurs exactly on one stressed syllable.
EX. car, far

2. Feminine rhyme uses words of more than one syllable and occurs when the accented syllable rhymes.
EX. buckle, knuckle

3. Off-rhyme or Slant Rhyme occurs when words sound very similar but do not correspond in sound exactly
EX. down, noon

Additional Reference:

Six Traits of Poetry Writing:

1. The Idea – the heart of your poem, point of your message

2. The Organization – the internal structure

3. The Voice – evidence of the writer behind the message

4. The Word Choice – the vocabulary or terminology used

5. The Fluency – the rhythm and flow - how it plays to the ear

6. The Form – the mechanical structure and correctness there of

I personally have always keyed in on Rhythm, Rhyme, and Flow. I believe having these three elements contribute greatly to a poems overall appeal and help to make for a well structured piece.

1. A poem should flow naturally - be flowing and easy reading

2. It should have rhythmic symmetry – there should be a correspondence rhythm with in the poem

3. Effective rhyming add to overall beauty and quality of poem – finding the correct corresponding rhyme makes for a better poem

The number one Key to writing poetry is how it’s constructed, structured, and how that structure lends itself to the appeal of a poem when being read!!!

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