Block Form Poems

Block form, also known as strophic form, is a poetic structure where each stanza is a self-contained block of lines with uniform length, meter, and sometimes rhyme scheme.

The stanzas are usually separated by line breaks, creating a visual block on the page. Block form poems allow for a clear, structured presentation of ideas, and each stanza can serve as a distinct unit of thought.

These poems are commonly used in ballads, hymns, and narrative poetry. The block format helps in emphasizing the rhythm and musicality of the poem, making it easy to remember and recite.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant

by Emily Dickinson

‘Tell the truth but tell it slant’ by Emily Dickinson is one of Dickinson’s best-loved poems. It explores an unknown “truth” that readers must interpret in their own way.

The poet composed this piece in a single stanza, making it a great example of a block form poem.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth's superb surprise

The Fish

by Elizabeth Bishop

‘The Fish’ by Elizabeth Bishop is considered to be one of her best poems. In it, readers can find some clues about her personal life.

This is a block form poem, meaning that all the lines are contained within a single stanza of verse. The poet chose to avoid using line breaks in order to tell a cohesive, flowing story.

I caught a tremendous fish

and held him beside the boat

half out of water, with my hook

fast in a corner of his mouth.

He didn't fight.

The Peace Pipe

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Peace Pipe’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the second part of the epic poem ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’ 

The continuous, unbroken stanza structure in the poem not only maintains momentum but also imparts a certain gravity to the narrative. This form ensures that the tale unfolds seamlessly, carrying the reader along every piece of the poem smoothly.

On the Mountains of the Prairie,

On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,

Gitche Manito, the mighty,

He the Master of Life, descending,

A New National Anthem

by Ada Limón

‘A New National Anthem’ is a prose poem expressing disapproval of the National Anthem, especially the part that was conspicuously removed.

This is a block form poem, meaning that it is contained within a single stanza of verse. Ada Limón's ‘A New National Anthem’ is a good example of a block form, but many poems are more fitting.

The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National

Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good song.

To the Ladies

by Lady Mary Chudleigh

‘To the Ladies’ by Lady Mary Chudleigh talks about how marriage rids the woman of her person and attaches her importance to the one she is married to.

This is a block form poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. The poem is made up of 24 lines and uses a combination of couplets and tercets in order to craft a unique rhyme scheme.

Wife and servant are the same,

But only differ in the name:

For when that fatal knot is tied,

Which nothing, nothing can divide:  

Taking Leave of a Friend

by Li Bai

Li Bai’s ‘Taking Leave of a Friend’ uses different literary techniques to convey the themes of transience, nature, longing, and friendship.

This poem is written in block form. This means all the lines are contained within a single text block without individual stanzas or line breaks. The poem is nine lines long in total, and all the lines are relatively similar in length. This is something that's commonly seen in short, block-form poems.

Blue mountains lie beyond the north wall;

Round the city's eastern side flows the white water.

Here we part, friend, once forever.

You go ten thousand miles, drifting away

You should appear less often in my dreams

by Anna Akhmatova

‘You should appear less often in my dreams’ by Anna Akhmatova describes the difference between a dream relationship and the one that exists in real life.

This poem maintains a concise and structured composition, with all contained to one stanza. The use of a single short stanza and the economy of words contribute to the overall impact and intensity of the emotions expressed, adding to the effectiveness of the poem's message.

You should appear less often in my dreams,

Since we meet so frequently;

Anne Rutledge

by Edgar Lee Masters

‘Anne Rutledge’ by Edgar Lee Masters is an epitaph based on the life of someone who knew and loved Abraham Lincoln in her youth.

This poem is contained within a single block of text making it a block form poem.

Out of me unworthy and unknown

The vibrations of deathless music;

“With malice toward none, with charity for all.”

Out of me the forgiveness of millions toward millions,

Csontváry’s Flowers

by Jean Bleakney

‘Csontváry’s Flowers’ is a fascinating insight into one extraordinary artist’s view of the work of another.

The lack of stanza breaks could imply Bleakney's reaction to the poem was immediate and that her thoughts occurred in quick succession.

The thin ribbon of sky, and thinner still,

blued hints of the easterly Carpathians

then down into the whole arboretum of blue-greens and greens

closing in around the valley town of Selmecbánya

First They Came

by Pastor Martin Niemöller

‘First They Came’ by Pastor Martin Neimöller is a powerful poem that speaks on the nature of responsibility in times of war and persecution. 

The block form of the poem serves to deliver its message in a straightforward manner. This simplicity ensures that the focus remains on the meaning, making it easily understandable and thereby more impactful.

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

Explore more Block Form poems

Let Us Be Midwives

by Sadako Kurihara

‘Let Us Be Midwives’ by Sadako Kurihara is a powerful war-time poem that describes a few moments of despair and a few of hope in the aftermath of the atomic bombing.

This is a block form poem, meaning that all the lines are combined into one stanza. There are no line breaks, meaning that the narrative flows easily from one action to the next or from one piece of dialogue to the next. This could be seen to represent the collective strength and unity of women working together as midwives, supporting and empowering each other in the birthing process of a better world.

Night in the basement of a concrete structure now in ruins.

Victims of the atomic bomb jammed the room;

It was dark—not even a single candle.

The smell of fresh blood, the stench of death,


My Garden — like the Beach

by Emily Dickinson

‘My Garden — like the Beach’ by Emily Dickinson is a beautiful, short poem. It compares the speaker’s garden to the beach and the summer to the sea. Read the full poem, with a complete analysis.

This is a block-form poem. Meaning the poem is contained within one stanza. In this case, the poem is only five lines long and suits the block form format quite well.

My Garden—like the Beach—

Denotes there be—a Sea—

That's Summer—

On The Birth of a Son

by Su Tung-Po

“On The Birth of a Son” by Su Tung-Po explores the place of intelligence in society, looking at how it actually leads to unhappiness rather than joy.

This is a block-form poem. This means that all the lines are contained within a single stanza of text. In this case, the lines are quite short, as is the poem itself, and all around the same length. This makes its single stanza all the more prominent.

Families when a child is born

Hope it will turn out intelligent.

I, through intelligence


by Edward Rowland Sill

‘Opportunity’ by Edward Rowland Sill is a narrative poem that describes an imagined or real battle and a unique opportunity that presents itself.

All the lines are contained within a single stanza, making this a block form poem.

He loved three things, alive:

by Anna Akhmatova

‘He loved three things, alive:’ by Anna Akhmatova is a short poem in which the speaker describes her husbands likes and dislikes. 

This is a block form poem, meaning that all the lines are contained within a single stanza. This is not something that was unusual in the poet's verse nor should thing poem be cited as a particularly important example of the poetic form.

He loved three things, alive:

White peacocks, songs at eve,

And antique maps of America.

Hated when children cried,

Character of the Happy Warrior

by William Wordsworth

‘Character of the Happy Warrior’ by William Wordsworth is a poem about what it means to be a “happy warrior” and what the elements of this kind of person’s life would be. 

This poem is one of many throughout the history of poetry that is written in block form. This means that all the lines are contained within a single stanza of text.

  Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he

That every man in arms should wish to be?

—It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought

Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought

Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:

Each and All

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Each and All’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson depicts nature as interconnected and dependent on all other living and non-living things. The poet uses a few clever examples to demonstrate why he sees the world this way. 

A good example of a blank form poem. It contains more than 50 lines in a single stanza.

Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown,

Of thee from the hill-top looking down;

The heifer that lows in the upland farm,

Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;

The Song of Hiawatha Introduction

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘The Song of Hiawatha’ Introduction by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the first in a series of sections, or cantos, from the long epic poem, ‘The Song of Hiawatha.’

The poem's structure, with long sections, can be likened to block-form poetry. Each section, while interconnected, stands as a self-contained narrative, adding layers to the overall tale.

Should you ask me, whence these stories?

Whence these legends and traditions,

With the odors of the forest

With the dew and damp of meadows,

Life in a Love

by Robert Browning

‘Life in a Love’ by Robert Browning is an obsessive love poem in which a speaker tells the person they’re in love with that no matter how many times they’re torn down; they’re always going to get back up. 

This is an obsessive and passionate love poem that's written in 21 lines. These 21 lines are contained within a single stanza of text, this means the poem is written in block form.

Escape me?



While I am I, and you are you,

Paraphrase on Anacreon: Ode to the Swallow

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘Paraphrase on Anacreon: Ode to the Swallow,’ is a translation of a Greek lyric poem in which the speaker explains that love constantly (and annoyingly) inhabits their heart.

This is a block-form poem, meaning that it's contained within one long stanza. The lines are all around the same length as well. It's also important to note that this poem is a translation, which means that the words are very different, as are the sounds, from the original version.

Thou indeed, little Swallow,

A sweet yearly comer.

Art building a hollow

New nest every summer.


by Joaquin Miller

‘Columbus’ by Joaquin Miller is a perfectly rhymed poem that narrates a few moments in Columbus’ voyage to the new world. It focuses on the hardship the crew had to endure. 

This poem is contained within a single stanza of text, meaning that it is written in block form. This is very common in poetry meaning that this little-known poem does not provide the best, most influencial example of the form.

Behind him lay the gray Azores,

Behind the Gates of Hercules;

Before him not the ghost of shores,

Before him only shoreless seas.

Summum Bonum

by Robert Browning

‘Summum Bonum’ by Robert Browning is a fairly straightforward and memorable poem about love and how it is far more important, and valuable than any beautiful summer day or shining gemstone. 

This is a block-form poem, meaning that all the lines are contained within a single stanza rather than separated into stanzas of different lengths.

All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee:

All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of one gem:

In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine of the sea:

Behaving Like a Jew

by Gerald Stern

‘Behaving Like a Jew’ by Gerald Stern is a lyric poem with elements of an elegy. It includes poet’s understanding of how suffering and death should be approached.

This poem is contained within a single stanza of text, also known as block form. There are no line breaks that create stanzas.

When I got there the dead opossum looked like

an enormous baby sleeping on the road.

It took me only a few seconds—just

Jenny Kiss’d Me

by Leigh Hunt

‘Jenny Kiss’d Me’ by Leigh Hunt is a powerful declaration of happiness in the face of the passage of time. A great deal of joy can be found in a single happy memory, the speaker suggests. 

This short eight-line poem is contained within a single stanza, meaning it is written in block form. This works out quite well, considering the poem's length and simple acknowledgement of universal themes.

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,

Jumping from the chair she sat in;

Time, you thief, who love to get

Sweets into your list, put that in!


We Rise

by Amanda Gorman

‘We Rise’ by Amanda Gorman is a beautiful and inspirational poem that explores women’s power. The poet emphasizes how important it is for women to raise each other and ensure everyone has a voice. 

This is a block-form poem, meaning it is contained within a single verse stanza. The poem's lines flow one after another, using literary devices like anaphora and enjambment.

Today, everyone’s eyes

Are on us as we rise.

Today is the day women

Are paving the way,

A Route of Evanescence

by Emily Dickinson

‘A Route of Evanescence’ by Emily Dickinson describes its subject through a series of metaphors, allusions, and images. But, never actually states that the subject is a hummingbird.

A Route of Evanescence,

With a revolving Wheel –

A Resonance of Emerald

Apparently with no surprise

by Emily Dickinson

In ‘Apparently with no surprise,’ Emily Dickinson explores themes of life, death, time, and God. The poet takes the reader to a moving snapshot of life and death.

Apparently with no surprise

To any happy Flower

The Frost beheads it at it’s play –

In accidental power – 


by Anna Akhmatova

‘Courage’ by Anna Akhmatova is a passionate poem about courage in the face of war. Specifically, Akhmatova was writing about World War II. 


by Gillian Clarke

‘February’ depicts a stunning and figurative encounter with Clarke’s familiar Welsh landscape on a snowy February day.

Frederick Douglass

by Robert Hayden

‘Frederick Douglass’ by Robert Hayden honors Douglass and speaks about a future in which all people, according to Douglass’ ideas of love and logic, will be treated equally without question.

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