By Gianna Albaum

Can’t keep all the different types of poetry straight? Neither can I. Here’s a handy guide to some of the more common forms.

Photo courtesy of Venet Osmani

Ode — A lengthy lyric poem typically of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanza structure.

Lyric — A poem that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet.

Sestina — A poem consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in varied order as end words in the other stanzas and also recur in the envoy.

Sonnet — Intended primarily for performance, sound poetry is sometimes referred to as “verse without words”. This form is seen as the bridging between literary and musical composition in which the phonetics of human speech are used to create a poem.

Villanelle — A 19-line poem consisting of five tercets and a final quatrain on two rhymes. The first and third lines of the first tercet repeat alternately as a refrain closing the succeeding stanzas and joined as the final couplet of the quatrain.

Free Verse — Poetry written in either rhyme or unrhymed lines that have no set fixed metrical pattern.

Epic— An extensive, serious poem that tells the story about a heroic figure.

Elegy— A sad and thoughtful poem about the death of an individual.

Burlesque — Poetry that treats a serious subject as humor.

Blank Verse— A poem written in unrhymed iambic pentameter and is often unobtrusive. The iambic pentameter form often resembles the rhythms of speech.

Ballad — A poem that tells a story similar to a folk tail or legend which often has a repeated refrain.


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