What is poetry?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, poetry is “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.” Poetry allows the writer to creatively express himself or herself. It allows the writer to manipulate language in such a way that it awakens the reader’s imagination, senses, and perception.

On this page you will find different types of poems along with examples written and created by Ms. Sanchez. You will also find a poetry glossary to help you understand common terms associated with poetry. Use the links below to help you navigate through this page.

Types of Poems | Poetry Glossary

Types of Poems

Acrostic
Alphabet
Autobiographical
Cinquain
Diamante
Haiku
List Poem
Shape or Concrete

Acrostic Poem

In acrostic poems, the first letters of each line are aligned vertically to form a word. The word is often the subject of the poem.

Example

Oceanic waves
C
lear blue waters
E
nchanting cool breezes
A
mazing water life
N
ever ending beauty

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Alphabet Poem

In an alphabet poem, each line begins with the letters of the alphabet in order. You can either use all 26 letters of the alphabet or use fewer letter as needed.

Example

An amazing dolphin splashed through the water.
B
eautiful drops of water splattered through the air.
C
arefully and gently it
D
ove back into the crystal blue waters.
E
veryone watched in amazement,
F
orever remembering this wondrous sight.

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Autobiographical Poem

Autobiographical poems are poems that talk about the author (person who writes the poem). Write a poem about yourself using this form.

Example
Mariely
Artistic, Creative, Imaginative, Friendly
Sister of Harif and Daniel
Who loves art, music, and computers
Who feels happy, loved, and fortunate
Who needs games, drums, and a sketch book
Who gives love, care, and dedication
Who fears hurricanes, cockroaches, and traffic jams
Who’d like to see Paris, Italy, and Alaska
Who dreams of visiting Hawaii
Resident of Miami, Florida
Sanchez

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Cinquain

Cinquains are poems that have five lines.

Example

Butterfly
Colorful, Magical
Fluttering, Gliding, Flying
Through the enchanting woods
Fairy

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Diamante

The Diamante is a form similar to the Cinquain. The text forms the shape of a diamond.

Example

Winter
Cold, Frigid
Freezing, Shivering, Trembling
Sweaters, Coats, Swimsuits, Shorts
Swimming, Snorkeling, Sweating
Hot, Tropical
Summer

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Haiku

Haiku is Japanese poetry that reflects on nature and feelings.

Example

Smooth river currents
Swiftly rushing through the banks
Splashing, sparkling, view

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List Poem

List poems start out with a sentence introducing the topic and then continue with a list of words related to the topic. This is one of the easiest forms of poetry.

Example

Love is…
family
friends
hugs
kisses
hearts
cupid
red

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Shape or Concrete Poem

Shape poems are made up of words that have been placed in such a way that they make the shape of an object and also use words to describe the object. The object is usually the subject of the poem.

Start by making a simple outline of the shape or object (an animal, a football, a fruit etc.) large enough to fill a piece of paper. Then brainstorm a minimum of ten words and phrases that describe the shape; list action and feeling words as well. Next, place a piece of paper over the shape and decide where your words are going to be placed so that they outline your shape but also fit well together. Separate words and phrases with commas.

Example

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The following glossary will help you understand the meaning of words commonly associated with poetry. Use the following ABC menu to help you navigate through this glossary. If a letter is not highlighted, then there aren't any words beginning with that letter.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Accent
The prominence or emphasis given to a syllable or word. In the word poetry, the accent (or stress) falls on the first syllable.

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Alliteration
The repetition of the same or similar sounds at the beginning of words. Some famous examples of alliteration are tongue twisters such as She sells seashells by the seashore and Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

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Assonance
The repetition or a pattern of similar sounds, especially vowel sounds, as in the tongue twister “Moses supposes his toeses are roses.”

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Ballad
A poem that tells a story similar to a folk tale or legend and often has a repeated refrain.

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Blank verse
Poetry that is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in blank verse.

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Carpe diem
A Latin expression that means “seize the day.” Carpe diem poems urge the reader (or the person to whom they are addressed) to live for today and enjoy the pleasures of the moment. A famous carpe diem poem by Robert Herrick begins “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may . . .”

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Consonance
The repetition of similar consonant sounds, especially at the ends of words, as in lost and past or confess and dismiss.

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Couplet
In a poem, a pair of lines that are the same length and usually rhyme and form a complete thought. Shakespearean sonnets usually end in a couplet.

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Eulogy
A poem that laments the death of a person, or one that is simply sad and thoughtful.

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Epic
A long, serious poem that tells the story of a heroic figure. Two of the most famous epic poems are the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, which tell about the Trojan War and the adventures of Odysseus on his voyage home after the war.

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Epigram
A very short, witty poem: “Sir, I admit your general rule,/That every poet is a fool,/But you yourself may serve to show it,/That every fool is not a poet.” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

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Figure of Speech
A verbal expression in which words or sounds are arranged in a particular way to achieve a particular effect. Figures of speech are organized into different categories, such as alliteration, antithesis, assonance, hyperbole, litotes, metaphor, metonymy, onomatopoeia, simile, and synecdoche.

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Foot
Two or more syllables that together make up the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem. For example, an iamb is a foot that has two syllables, one unstressed followed by one stressed. An anapest has three syllables, two unstressed followed by one stressed.

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Free Verse (also Vers Libre)
Poetry composed of either rhymed or unrhymed lines that have no set meter.

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Haiku
A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Haiku often reflect on some aspect of nature.

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Heptameter
A line of poetry that has seven metrical feet.

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Heroic Couplet
A stanza composed of two rhymed lines in iambic pentameter.

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Hexameter
A line of poetry that has six metrical feet

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Hyperbole
A figure of speech in which deliberate exaggeration is used for emphasis. Many everyday expressions are examples of hyperbole: tons of money, waiting for ages, a flood of tears, etc. Hyperbole is the opposite of litotes.

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Iamb
A metrical foot of two syllables, one short (or unstressed) and one long (or stressed). There are four iambs in the line “Come live/ with me/ and be/ my love,” from a poem by Christopher Marlowe. (The stressed syllables are in bold.) The iamb is the reverse of the trochee.

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Iambic Pentameter
A type of meter in poetry, in which there are five iambs to a line. (The prefix penta- means “five,” as in pentagon, a geometrical figure with five sides. Meter refers to rhythmic units. In a line of iambic pentameter, there are five rhythmic units that are iambs.) Shakespeare's plays were written mostly in iambic pentameter, which is the most common type of meter in English poetry. An example of an iambic pentameter line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is “But soft!/ What light/ through yon/der win/dow breaks?” Another, from Richard III, is "A horse!/ A horse!/ My king/dom for/ a horse!" (The stressed syllables are in bold.)

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Limerick
A light, humorous poem of five usually anapestic lines with the rhyme scheme of aabba.

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Litotes
A figure of speech in which a positive is stated by negating its opposite. Some examples of litotes: no small victory, not a bad idea, not unhappy. Litotes, which is a form of understatement, is the opposite of hyperbole.

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Lyric
A poem, such as a sonnet or an ode, that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet. A lyric poem may resemble a song in form or style.

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Metaphor
A figure of speech in which two things are compared, usually by saying one thing is another, or by substituting a more descriptive word for the more common or usual word that would be expected. Some examples of metaphors: the world's a stage, he was a lion in battle, drowning in debt, and a sea of troubles.

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Meter
The arrangement of a line of poetry by the number of syllables and the rhythm of accented (or stressed) syllables.

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Narrative
Telling a story. Ballads, epics, and lays are different kinds of narrative poems.

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Onomatopoeia
A figure of speech in which words are used to imitate sounds. Examples of onomatopoeic words are buzz, hiss, zing, clippety-clop, cock-a-doodle-do, pop, splat, thump, and tick-tock. Another example of onomatopoeia is found in this line from Tennyson's Come Down, O Maid: “The moan of doves in immemorial elms,/And murmuring of innumerable bees.” The repeated “m/n” sounds reinforce the idea of “murmuring” by imitating the hum of insects on a warm summer day.

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Pentameter
A line of poetry that has five metrical feet.

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Personification
A figure of speech in which nonhuman things or abstract ideas are given human attributes: the sky is crying, dead leaves danced in the wind, blind justice.

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Poetry
A type of literature that is written in meter.

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Quatrain
A stanza or poem of four lines.

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Refrain
A phrase, line, or group of lines that is repeated throughout a poem, usually after every stanza.

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Rhyme
The occurrence of the same or similar sounds at the end of two or more words. When the rhyme occurs in a final stressed syllable, it is said to be masculine: cat/hat, desire/fire, observe/deserve. When the rhyme occurs in a final unstressed syllable, it is said to be feminine: pleasure/leisure, longing/yearning . The pattern of rhyme in a stanza or poem is shown usually by using a different letter for each final sound. In a poem with an aabba rhyme scheme, the first, second, and fifth lines end in one sound, and the third and fourth lines end in another.

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Rhyme Royal
A type of poetry consisting of stanzas of seven lines in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme ababbcc. Rhyme royal was an innovation introduced by Geoffrey Chaucer.

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Senryu
A short Japanese poem that is similar to a haiku in structure but treats human beings rather than nature, often in a humorous or satiric way.

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Simile
A figure of speech in which two things are compared using the word “like” or “as.” An example of a simile using like occurs in Langston Hughes's poem Harlem: “What happens to a dream deferred?/ Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun?”

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Sonnet
A lyric poem that is 14 lines long. Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnets are divided into two quatrains and a six-line “sestet,” with the rhyme scheme abba abba cdecde (or cdcdcd). English (or Shakespearean) sonnets are composed of three quatrains and a final couplet, with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. English sonnets are written generally in iambic pentameter.

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Stanza
Two or more lines of poetry that together form one of the divisions of a poem. The stanzas of a poem are usually of the same length and follow the same pattern of meter and rhyme.

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Stress
The prominence or emphasis given to particular syllables. Stressed syllables usually stand out because they have long, rather than short, vowels, or because they have a different pitch or are louder than other syllables.

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Tanka
A Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the rest of seven.

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Tetrameter
A line of poetry that has four metrical feet.

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Verse
A single metrical line of poetry, or poetry in general (as opposed to prose).

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