15 Types of Poems to Know, With Examples

Learn about short poems, funny ones, and even poems that tell stories. Find out how words can make pictures and feelings in this fun journey through poetry.

By:   Daniel Oliver, Published on: 2024-01-26, Last Updated: 22-05-24

Reviewed by: Hazel Max

Table of Contents

Poetry is a beautiful way to express feelings and ideas through words. For hundreds of years, famous poets like Homer, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes have used poetry to share their thoughts and emotions.

Even in today's busy world, many people still enjoy reading poetry. In 2018, a study found that over 28 million adults in the United States read some kind of poetry. This shows that poetry is still very popular.

There are many different styles or types of poems. Some use rhymes and rhythms, while others have free-flowing words. From Shakespeare's carefully structured sonnets to the free-spirited poems of the Beat writers, the varieties of poetic forms reflect the many experiences of human life.

Whether you already love poetry or are just getting interested in it, learning about 15 common types of poems can help you appreciate this art better. Exploring the different poem styles is like discovering new worlds of beautiful language and deep meanings.

The main thing to know is that there are many "types of poems" out there. Understanding these various types of poems will allow you to enjoy the creative power of poetry more fully.

15 Different types of Poems

Learn about these 15 kinds of poems. You might know some or get inspired to make your own with the help of an AI poem generator.

1. Haiku

Haikus are short poems from Japan that talk about nature. They're only 17 syllables long and have a pattern of 5-7-5 syllables. These poems are simple but deep, showing us small moments in nature. 

They help us see beauty in everyday things. A famous haiku by Matsuo Bashō talks about an old pond and a frog jumping in, making a sound in the water. Even though haikus are very short, they make us pay attention to the world around us. Following the 5-7-5 pattern makes writing them a fun challenge.

For Example: ‘Old Pond by Matsuo Bashō’

A silent old pond,

a frog leaps into the sound

of water splashing.

2. Acrostic

An acrostic is a special kind of poem or message where the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase vertically. It started as a game in ancient Greece but became a creative literary tool. In an acrostic poem, the vertical word is the main idea, and the lines describe it. This lets the poet explore different meanings and play with words. Writing acrostics needs careful planning to make sure each line makes sense alone and fits into the vertical word. It's a challenge for poets.

Acrostics can express deep feelings or honor someone special. The vertical word might be a loved one's name or an important message. Famous examples include Edgar Allan Poe's "Eldorado" and a birthday poem for Prince Charles, where the first letters are spelled "CHARLES PRINCE OF WALES."

Acrostics are like puzzles, blending wordplay and meaning for special messages and celebrations.

For Example: 

Courageous, Charles, whose very name does show

He's ready, steady, to his duty go.

A leader, he, in times both war and peace,

Respected, known, for his profound caprice.

Loved by the people, with a heart so true,

Eager to serve, in all he finds to do.

So here's to him, this day that he was born,

Prince Charles, a man of honor, not forlorn.

Of Wales, he's prince, with wisdom beyond years,

Filled with compassion, vanquisher of fears.

Endowed with grace, a charm that never pales,

We raise our voices high, to Prince of Wales.

3. Limerick

Limericks are funny poems from England. They have five lines and a special rhyme pattern, like AA BB A. The last line of a limerick surprises you with something funny. They're silly and playful, often talking about weird or funny things. People used to share limericks in pubs and just for fun. They're catchy and make you laugh.

Here's an Example: "The Man from Peru”

There once was a man from Peru (A)

Whose hat was remarkably blue (A)

He wore it at night (B)

And caused quite a sight (B)

For his head was a glowing hue! (A)

4. Free Verse

Free verse is a type of poetry that started in the early 1900s. Unlike other poems, it doesn't follow any rules about rhyme or rhythm. This means poets can express themselves however they want without worrying about traditional patterns. 

Free verse uses natural language and experiments with how lines are broken. It's more about expressing feelings honestly than following strict rules. Walt Whitman was one of the first poets to write free verse in his book "Leaves of Grass," which changed how people saw poetry.

An Example: "Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Leaves of grass, whispers of time,

Echoes of a soul unconfined.

In every blade, a tale untold,

In every leaf, a truth behold.

No rhyme to bind, no rhythm to chase,

Just the freedom of boundless space.

Words flow like rivers, winding free,

Through the fields of possibility.

5. Sonnet

The sonnet is a type of poem that started in Italy in the 13th century and became popular during the Renaissance. It's 14 lines long and has a strict rhyme pattern (abab cdcd efef gg). The poem is usually divided into two parts: the first 8 lines are called the octave, and the last 6 lines are called the sestet. Sonnets often talk about big ideas like love, nature, or deep thoughts, and they do it in a short but powerful way. 

Famous poets like Petrarch in Italy and Shakespeare in England were masters of the sonnet. Shakespeare wrote beautiful love sonnets, like "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?". These poems use rhymes and metaphors to express complicated feelings.

For Example: " Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? By William Shakespeare "

"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 dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

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

6. Narrative

Narrative poems are stories told in verse. They've been around since ancient times when people used to tell stories orally. These poems can be about adventures, made-up tales, or real events. They have characters, dialogue, and detailed descriptions that make you feel like you're in the story. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote a famous narrative poem called "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," which is spooky and full of suspense. It's like reading a short story but in poem form.

Here is An Example: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In a land of old, where legends abound,

There lived a brave knight, noble and renowned.

With sword in hand and armor so bright,

He rode through the land, seeking his fight.

His quest was one of honor and might,

To vanquish the dragon, fearsome in flight.

7. Couplet 

A couplet poem is a pair of lines in poetry that rhyme with each other. This style of poetry has been around since ancient times.

Couplets usually form complete phrases or thoughts within those two rhyming lines. The words that rhyme at the end create a sense of harmony and rhythm.

There are different kinds of couplets:

  • Closed couplet - These lines make a complete idea and often end with punctuation.
  • Open couplet - The idea continues onto the next pair of lines without a break.
  • Heroic couplet - A closed couplet in iambic pentameter, often used in epic or dramatic poetry.

Couplet poems can stand alone as short sayings or be part of longer poems. Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Criticism" is a great example of how couplets can be used effectively.

Even though they're short, writing good couplets takes skill. Poets have to choose their words carefully to create meaning and rhythm in just two lines. Couplets are used for everything from satire to songs because their rhymes and concise structure make them memorable and impactful.

An Example: “An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope's

'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill

Appear in Writing or in Judging ill;

But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' Offence

To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense;

8. Blank Verse

Blank verse is a type of poetry that doesn't have rhymes, but it still follows a specific rhythm called iambic pentameter, which means each line has five iambs. This rhythm makes it sound natural and easy to speak. 

Blank verse was first used by poets and playwrights during the time of Queen Elizabeth I in England. It was great for writing dialogue and speeches that sounded like real conversation. Famous writers like Shakespeare used blank verse in their plays, and Milton used it in his epic poem "Paradise Lost."

Example: “Paradise Lost by Milton

In Eden's garden, serpents hiss,

Dark whispers curl in the morning mist.

Lost souls seek the forbidden fruit,

Ambition's flame, the bitter root.

Angels weep in celestial sorrow,

As Lucifer dreams of a new tomorrow

A rebellion brewed in heaven's gate,

Fate's design, a tragic debate…..

9. Concrete

Concrete poems are a type of modern poetry that started in the 20th century. In these poems, the words are arranged in specific patterns or shapes that relate to what the poem is about. This makes the poem not just about the words, but also about how they look on the page. It's like creating a picture with words. George Herbert was a poet who was famous for using this technique. One of his poems, "Easter Wings," is a great example of a concrete poem.

For Example: “Easter Wings by George Herbert

Lord, who created man in wealth and store,

Though foolishly he lost the same,

Decaying more and more,

Till he became

Most poore:

With thee

O let me rise

As larks, harmoniously,

And sing this day thy victories:

Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

10. Villanelle

The villanelle poem is a complex form of French poetry that originated during the Renaissance in the 16th century. It's known for its strict repetition of lines, giving it a unique structure and rhythm. 

A villanelle has 19 lines, arranged into six triplet stanzas and a final quatrain. The first and third lines of the first stanza are repeated alternately throughout the poem, ending in the quatrain with all four repeated lines.

Famous examples of villanelles include Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" and Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night." These poems elegantly explore complex themes using the power of circular refrains.

For Example: “One Art by Elizabeth Bishop's

The art of losing isn't hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn't hard to master…

11. Elegy

An elegy is a sad poem that talks about death, grief, and how short life is. It's a way to express sorrow over losing someone. But it's more than just being sad. Elegies also think about big questions like why we're here and what happens after we die. 

Walt Whitman wrote a famous elegy called "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." It's about how sad he felt when Abraham Lincoln was killed.

For Example: "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd by Walt Whitman”

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,

And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,

I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,

Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,

And thought of him I love…

12. Ballad

A ballad is a type of poem that tells a story, kind of like a song. It's been around since medieval times when minstrels used to tell stories to music. Ballads often talk about heroes, love stories, or old legends, and they have big, dramatic plots. They're easy to understand and usually use simple language. Coleridge wrote a famous ballad called "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," which is spooky and has a great story.

Example: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge”

It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stopped one of three.

'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,

Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:

He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner….

13. Ode

An ode is a special kind of poem that praises and celebrates something, like a person, event, object, or idea. It comes from ancient Greek songs sung by a group of people. Odes use fancy language to express deep feelings of admiration and respect, making the subject seem important. John Keats wrote a famous ode called "Ode on a Grecian Urn," where he thought deeply about beauty and truth.

 Example: “Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,

Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,

Sylvan historian, who canst thus express

A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:

What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape

Of deities or mortals, or of both,

In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?

What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?

What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?

What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

14. Epic

An epic poem is a big, long story that's been around since ancient times. It tells about heroic adventures, myths, or legendary events that are important to a culture. Epic poems often have heroes, magical things happening, and grand language. The most famous examples are Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey."

Example: “Iliad by Homer”

In Troy's vast fields where warriors clash and steel,

The clash of gods and mortals did reveal,

A tale of wrath, of heroes bold and strong,

In Homer's verse, this epic tale belongs.

Sing, Muse, of Achilles, Greece's bravest son,

Whose wrath did stir, the war had just begun.

For Agamemnon's slight, he withdrew his hand,

And thus, the Trojan shores became his stand.

15. Tanka

A tanka is a traditional Japanese poem that's often compared to haiku. It's a thoughtful 5-line poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Tanka poems often reflect on small moments or scenes from nature, expressing deep feelings and thoughts. Yosano Akiko, a famous poet from the 20th century, played a big part in bringing back the traditional tanka style.

Example: “Throughout the night by Yosano Akiko”

Throughout the night

The skylark sings incessantly—

Where does it go now?

Where does it disappear to

As dawn breaks over the horizon?

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Final Thoughts

Poetry is a beautiful way of expressing thoughts and feelings through words. It's been loved for a long time by many people. There are lots of different kinds of poems, each with its own way of using words to create meaning and emotion. By learning about these 15 types of poems, you can understand how powerful and fun poetry can be. Whether it's a short funny poem or a serious one, each type of poem shows us something special about life and language. So, whether you're new to poetry or already enjoy it, I hope you'll find joy in exploring the world of poetry and discovering the magic of words.

FAQ's

What type of poem has 15 lines?

A poem with 15 lines is typically called a "rondeau" or a "terza rima."

What is a 50 line poem called?

A 50-line poem is often referred to as a "pentastich" or simply as a "poem."

What are 14 line poems?

14 line poems are commonly known as "sonnets."

What are 24 line poems called?

A 24-line poem could be called various things depending on its structure, but one common term is a "ballade."

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