Poetry Types

by Cella Bella   Sep 7, 2007

Let me start off by saying I think all poetry is beautiful, no matter how simple or complex. I wanted to post this to share the many types of poetry and to give some insight on some of the many types of poetry you may see on P&Q. I must say, free verse is always wonderful but, you might be surprised how challenging and unique formed poetry can be. Happy writing.


1. Villanelle
The villanelle, in my opinion, is one of the more difficult styles of poetry. A villanelle consists of 19 lines, including five tercets and a quatrain at the end. Each tercet is made up of three lines. The rhyme scheme for each tercet is aba. (the first and last have the same end rhyme, which just means the last word in each line rhymes) The concluding quatrain consists of four lines. The rhyme scheme is abab. Now, this is where it gets tricky. Two lines are repeated throughout the entire poem. -The first line of the last stanza is repeated as the last line in the second and fourth stanzas and also as the second-to-last line of the ending quatrain. -The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanza and as the last line in the ending quatrain.

A diamante is a seven line poem, shaped like a diamond. Line 1 consists of one word, a noun. Line 2 consists of two words, both adjectives, describing the first word. Line 3 consists of three words, all action verbs. (words ending with "ing") Line 4 consists of four words, nouns, first two words relate to line 1 and the last two words relate to line 7. Line 5 consists of three words, action verbs. (words ending with "ing") Line 6 consists of two words, adjectives, describing the last word. Line 7 consists of one word, a noun, which is a synonym or antonym to line 1.

An acrostic poem uses the letters in a word to begin each line of the poem. [usually the title] All lines of the poem relate to or describe the main topic word or title. Acrostic poems do not need to rhyme but, they can if you want it to.
Ex: "Poem"

A sestina poem consists of six, six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. The six words that end each of the lines of the first stanza are repeated in a different order at the end of lines in each of the subsequent five stanzas. This kind of recurrent pattern is called lexical repetition.
1 2 3 4 5 6 - end words of lines in first sestet.
6 1 5 2 4 3 - end words of lines in second sestet.
3 6 4 1 2 5 - end words of lines in third sestet.
5 3 2 6 1 4 - end words of lines in fourth sestet.
4 5 1 3 6 2 - end words of lines in fifth sestet.
2 4 6 5 3 1 - end words of lines in sixth sestet.
6,2-1,4-5,3 - middle and end words of lines in tercet
This type of poetry is also rather difficult.

A sonnet is a 14 lined poem in *iambic pentameter. A sonnet usually is a poem about love or religion.

*Iambic Pentameter
Iambic pentameter is a meter in poetry. It has an unrhymed line with 5 iambs or feet. Iambic means the stress is on the second syllable. Pentameter shows us that a line has five feet or clusters of two syllables adding up to ten syllables in each line. Ex. pillow/pillow/pillow/pillow/pillow
When iambic pentameter is read aloud i would follow a beat like, Da-dum Da-dum. This may still be confusing, so if anyone knows of a better way to explain it, please comment.

The two types of sonnets, I know of, are:

The Italian Sonnet
An Italian sonnet is divided into two sections. First, an *octave, whith a rhyme scheme of abab,abab followed by a *sestet, with a rhyme scheme of cde,cde which is an Italian sestet or a rhyme scheme of cdc,dcd, a Sicilian sestet .

An octave is a verse form consisting of eight lines of iambic pentameter. The most common rhyme scheme for an octave is abba,abba.

A sestet is the name given to the second part of a sonnet, which must consist of an octave, of eight lines, followed by a sestet, of six lines. With a rhyme scheme of abc,cba

The English Sonnet or Shakespearian has three quatrains with a concluding *couplet.

Couplets are two lines that work together, either as a single stanza or as part of one larger stanza.
Couplets usaully have a rhyme scheme of a,a. Although there are many variations and they do not have to.

A triquatrain is a poem consisting of three *quatrains.

*A quatrain is a stanza of four lines, rhymed or metered. There are many variation of the quatrain, just like the couplet.

-Alternating Quatrain
Four lines with a rhyme scheme of abab

-Envelope Stanza
A Quatrain with the rhyme scheme, abba. Lines two and three would be enclosed (eveloped) within the rhyme of lines one and four.

A spanish form written in terameter with any of the following rhyme schemes. abba,abab or aabb

There are many others as well, you can look them up if you'd like.

The pantoum is made with any number of alternating quatrains with lines of any length and meter. Lines two and four of each stanza become lines one and three of the following stanza. They are to be repeated in their entirety. Each stanza becomes interlocked with the stanza above and below it by rhyme and line, giving the poem a unique feel a lot like that of a Villanelle. The pantoum's last stanza takes lines one and three of the first stanza and uses them as either lines one and two, or two and four, but in reversed order.

8. Haiku and Senryu
A haiku is a three lined verse, unrhymed, and is about nature.
A senryu is very similar to a haiku, a three lined verse, unrhymed. The difference is, it is about human nature usually, rather than nature itself.

A rictameter consists of 9 lines. The first and last lines are the same.
line 1: two syllables
line 2: four syllables
line 3: six syllables
line 4: eight syllables
line 5: ten syllables
line 6: eight syllables
line 7: six syllables
line 8: four syllables
line 9: two syllables same as first

If there are any styles you would like to share or if you think I may have forgot to mention something about the styles above, please leave it in a comment.

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