By: Lauren Beth Kelly
Poetry is one of the oldest forms of writing, dating back to 1700 BC. Since then, it has manifested into a nuanced writing genre that every writer experiments with at some point in their life. But let’s be honest, it’d hard. It may not feel as natural as, say, prose does. This article will describe some of the basic poetic forms and show you how to improve upon them.
Poetry is different from prose in that there are line breaks instead of paragraphs. Lines of a poem can be made up of a single word, phrase, or of an entire sentence. These lines together are called a stanza (i.e., verse form) which, along with its rhyme scheme, subject matter, and meter (or, number and arrangement of syllables in each line), determine the type of poem.
One of the most well-known forms of poetry is perhaps that of Haiku, which you may have had to write while in school. This form of poetry is composed of 3 lines and has a 5, 7, and 5 syllables on each line, respectively.
However, poetry can also be as creative as you want. For example, in a Free Verse poem, no rhyme scheme is required. Free Verse poems have no limitations. An example of a Free Verse poetic form is Walt Whitman’s After the Sea-Ship.
In a limerick, however, a distinct verse is required, and it has a 5-line rhythmic stanza. The first, second, and fifth lines rhyme and contain 7 to 10 syllables, while the shorter second and fourth lines rhyme and use only 5 to 7 syllables.
Similarly, in a Terza Rima form of poetry, there are distinct stanzas with lines which are in groups of three and that are usually 10 or 11 syllables long. A famous example of this poetic form is Divine Comedy.
Of the approximately 50 basic types of poetry, the most common genres include that of narrative, lyric, and dramatic forms. These can be divided into thousands of types of sub-genres, which can include forms such as haikus, limericks, elegies, epitaph, refrain, free verse, and pastoral forms, etc.
A good poem uses clear and concrete imagery to make a point. It has a rhythm, or repetition of sounds. Poems also typically include the use of symmetry, metaphor, and personification. If you want to become a better poet, you should develop the use of these characteristics. It is also preferable to avoid that of sentimentality and to use originality in lieu of clichés.