Types of Poetry: 5 Thought Provoking Forms

repetitioninpoetry“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

You’ve heard that line before, haven’t you? It is one of the most famous lines of poetry written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Before we get into the classics, let’s go through a quick refresher. A poem consists of words written in a verse. It comes from the Greek word, “Poesis,” which means “making” or “creating.” In the ancient world, poetry was used to record cultural events and to tell stories. They contain meaning and have a sense of musicality and rhythm. Poems can either be rhyming or nonrhyming, and are normally a series of lines separated into what are called “stanzas.” Many poems commonly use alliteration or metaphors to heighten and layer their meanings. To illustrate, the bald eagle is a bird that also represents the United States. Moreover, poems are not strictly held to the rules of grammar. For artistic integrity, these rules can be stretched. In fact, many popular romantic poems do stretch the rules o grammar and are dotted with layered metaphors. The good news is this online course can help you understand romantic poetry. A poem can say a lot in just a few words. If you are a burgeoning poet, read on to learn the various types of poetry.


A sonnet is a poem with 14 lines. There are several set rhyme schemes such as Italian and English. The Italian sonnet is written in one division of eight rhyming line schemes like, “abbabba.” The second division has six rhyming lines such as, “cdecde, “cdccdc,” or “cdedce.” On the other hand, the English sonnet four divisions or quatrains written as, “abab,” “cdcd,” “efef” and “gg.” Below is William Shakespeare’s English Sonnet Number 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed,

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


This is a five-lined poem first seen in French medieval poetry. Cinquains follow three main rhyming formats, “ababb,” “abaab” or “abccb.” This was a common style of poetry written in the 16th and 17th centuries. Poetry can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be. Learning and memorizing poetry is a skill you can learn quickly online. Below is the cinquain, “To Helen” written by one of the world’s most famous poets, Edgar Allen Poe:

Helen, thy beauty is to me

Like those Nicean barks of yore

That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,

The weary, way-worn wanderer bore

To his own native shore.


On desperate seas long wont to roam,

Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,

Thy Naiad airs have brought me home

To the glory that was Greece,

And the grandeur that was Rome.


Lo, in yon brilliant window-niche

How statue-like I see thee stand,

The agate lamp within thy hand,

Ah! Psyche, from the regions which

Are Holy Land!


This form of poetry was invented by the entertaining French troubadours. The troubadours used them to determine who could write the best poetry. It has six stanzas of blank verse with six lines each. In addition, it follows the format of “abcdef,” “faebdc,” “cfdabe,” “ecbfad,” “deacfb” and “bdfeca.” Three lines are used to conclude the poem, which is also called an “envoi.” Below are the first two stanzas of “Sestina of the Tramp-Royal” written by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Speakin’ in general, I ’ave tried ’em all—

The ’appy roads that take you o’er the world.

Speakin’ in general, I ’ave found them good

For such as cannot use one bed too long,

But must get ’ence, the same as I ’ave done,

An’ go observin’ matters till they die.


What do it matter where or ’ow we die,

So long as we’ve our ’ealth to watch it all—

The different ways that different things are done.

An’ men an’ women lovin’ in this world;

Takin’ our chances as they come along.

An’ when they ain’t, pretendin’ they are good?


typesofpoetryThis form of poetry originated in Japan. It consists of only three lines, so the poem is very concise. The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables and the third line has five syllables. There is also a noticeable grammatical break called a “kireji.” Most Haikus are written about nature or a season. You might even have work you want to share with the world. This online course teaches you how to publish your own poetry chapbook.  Below is a seasonal Haiku written by Natsume Soseki. His is considered the Charles Dickens of Japan. What season do you think he is describing?

Over the wintry

forest, winds howl in rage

with no leaves to blow.


Literally translated, this means “song” in Italian. It is comprised of five to seven stanzas, which are set to music. It is similar to a madrigal, which is a secular vocal music composition. In addition, the canzone is normally hendecasyllabic or contains 11 syllables. Below is a canzone titled, “His Lament for Selvaggia.” It was written by Cino da Pistoia:

Ay me, alas! the beautiful bright hair

That shed reflected gold

O’er the green growths on either side of the way:

Ay me! the lovely look, open and fair,

Which my heart’s core doth hold

With all else of that best remembered day;

Ay me! the face made gay

With joy that Love confers;

Ay me! that smile of hers

Where whiteness as of snow was visible

Among the roses at all seasons red!

Ay me! and this was well,

O Death, to let me live when she is dead?

Edgar Allan Poe is quoted as saying,”Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” Poetry has always been a technique for people to express their emotions and even offer therapeutic benefits. It can speak to your heart in only a few lines. Since there are poetry types for all ages and interests, what are you waiting for?