Poetic Forms

A poetic form is the structure of the poem. This includes how long it is, how many lines or words it uses, and the writer’s use of meter and rhyme. There are many different types of form used in poetry, defined below.

Home » Glossary of Literary Terms » Poetic Forms
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  • a
  • Acrostic
    An acrostic is a piece of writing in which letters form words or messages. The “acrostic” is most commonly associated with poetry. Read More
  • Anacreontic
    Anacreontics are metered verses in the style of the Greek poet Anacreon. His poetry often dealt with themes of love and wine. Read More
  • b
  • Ballad
    A ballad is a kind of verse, sometimes narrative in nature, often set to music and developed from 14th and 15th-century minstrelsy. Read More
  • Blank Verse
    Blank verse is a kind of poetry that is written in unrhymed lines but with a regular metrical pattern. Read More
  • Burns Stanza
    The Burns stanza is named for Scottish poet Robert Burns who popularized its use. It is a six-line stanza form that uses a rhyme scheme of AAABAB, and lines of(...) Read More
  • c
  • Canto
    A canto is a subsection of a long narrative or epic poem. It is made up of at least five lines but it normally much longer. Read More
  • Canzone
    The word “canzone” means “song” in Italian and first used to refer to a verse form in Italy and France in the medieval period. Read More
  • Chaucerian Stanza
    The Chaucerian stanza, also known as rhyme royal, is a stanza form introduced by English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. It's seven lines long and uses the rhyme scheme ABABBCC. Read More
  • Cinquain
    A cinquain is a poetic form that makes use of a pattern of five lines. Read More
  • Concrete Poem
    Concrete poetry, also sometimes known as visual poetry or shape poetry, is focused on the visual effect that linguistic elements have when they’re arranged in a(...) Read More
  • Country House Poem 
    A country house poem is a piece of poetry that praises another person’s property. They were usually written for wealthy friends or patrons in order to gain favor.  Read More
  • Curtal Sonnet 
    The curtal sonnet, or the contracted sonnet, is an eleven-line sonnet that follows a pattern of either ABCABCDCBDC or ABCABCDBCDC.  Read More
  • d
  • Diamante Poetry
    Diamonte is a popular poetic form that is made up of seven lines. They are formatted into the shape of a diamond and used to compare two opposites. Read More
  • Dramatic Monologue
    A dramatic monologue is a conversation a speaker has with themselves, or which is directed at a listen or reader who does not respond. Read More
  • e
  • Epistle
    An epistle is a letter that comes in the form of either prose or poetry. Read More
  • Epitaph
    An epitaph is a short lyric written in memory of someone who has died. Sometimes, epitaphs serve as elegies. Read More
  • f
  • Found Poetry
    Found poetry is a type of poem that’s created using someone else’s words, phrases, or structure. Read More
  • Free Verse
    In free verse, lines are unrhymed and there are no consistent metrical patterns. But, that doesn't mean it is entirely without structure. Read More
  • g
  • Ghazal
    A ghazal is a type of poem that is constructed with couplets, repeated words, and rhyming words. Read More
  • Golden Shovel Poetic Form
    The golden shovel poetic form uses lines from another author's poetry. Each word of those lines ends one line of a new poem. Read More
  • h
  • Haiku Poem
    A haiku is a three-line Japanese poem that follows a syllable pattern of 5-7-5. Read More
  • Hymn Stanza
    A hymn stanza uses a rhyme scheme of ABCB and alternates between iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter. Read More
  • l
  • Limerick
    A limerick is a humorous poem that follows a fixed structure of five lines and a rhyme scheme of AABBA. Read More
  • m
  • Miltonic Sonnet
    The Miltonic Sonnet is one of the main sonnet forms and was popularized by the poet John Milton who was born in 1609 in London, England. Read More
  • n
  • Narrative Poem
    Narrative poems contain all the elements of a story and are normally longer than average. Read More
  • o
  • Octave
    The word “octave” comes from the Latin word meaning “eighth part”. It is an eight-line stanza or poem. Read More
  • Ode
    An ode is a formal lyric poem that is written in celebration or dedication. They are generally directed with specific intent. Read More
  • p
  • Parable
    A parable is a short fictional story that speaks on a religious attitude or moral belief. Read More
  • Petrarchan/Italian Sonnet
    Petrarchan/Italian sonnets are fourteen lines long, follow an initial rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, and use iambic pentameter. Read More
  • q
  • Quatrain
    A quatrain is a verse form that is made up of four lines with fifteen different possible rhyme schemes. Read More
  • r
  • Rhyme Scheme of Sonnets
    Sonnets usually conform to one of two different rhyme schemes, those connected to the Shakespearean and the Petrarchan sonnet forms. Read More
  • Rondel
    The rondel has two quatrains that are followed by a quintet, a set of five lines. The verse form has its origins in lyrical poetry of 14th-century France. Read More
  • s
  • Sestet
    A sestet is a six-line stanza or poem, or the second half or a sonnet. It does not require a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. Read More
  • Shakespearean Sonnet
    The Shakespearean sonnet follows a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG and uses iambic pentameter. Read More
  • Slam Poetry
    Slam poetry, also known as spoken word poetry, is typically performed at what is known as a “poetry slam”. Read More
  • Sonnet
    Traditionally, sonnets are fourteen-line poems that follow a strict rhyme scheme and conform to the metrical pattern of iambic pentameter. Read More
  • Spenserian Sonnet
    The Spenserian sonnet was invented by the famous sixteenth-century poet Edmund Spenser and uses a rhyme scheme of ABAB BCBC CDCD EE. Read More
  • Structure of Sonnets
    A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem that usually makes use of the metrical pattern of iambic pentameter. Read More
  • t
  • Tanka Poetry
    A tanka poem is an important form in Japanese poetry that follows a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Read More
  • Tercet
    A tercet is a three-line stanza. It is a common stanza form, although not as common as the couplet and quatrain. Read More
  • Terza Rima
    Terza rima refers to a very specific rhyme scheme that follows the rhyming pattern of ABA BCB DED. Read More
  • v
  • Villanelle
    A villanelle is a nineteen-line poem that is divided into five tercets or sets of three lines, and one concluding quatrain, or set of four lines. Read More
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