Elements of Poetry
Types of Poetry
Forms of Poetry
“Poetry is thoughts that breath and words that
- Thomas Gray
“The spontaneous overflow of powerful
"If I read a book and it makes my body so cold
no fire ever can warm me, I know that is
- Emily Dickinson
ELEMENTS OF POETRY
Each poet uses the "form" which will
most effectively EXPRESS what he wants
to convey to other human beings.
Traditional poetry used to follow very
This kind of poetry is called FREE
VERSE. It is most often used in modern
times and presents a multitude of
The poet uses free form to make the
poem fit the contents and to express the
mood or feeling of his work.
These are the vehicle of the authors thoughts
and ideas. These are the building blocks with
which to create a poem.
The WORDS of each line proceed as usual from
left to right, but they curiously end where the
poet wants them to stop. Therefore, you may
have some lines that are of equal length and
others which are not.
Besides the length and margining of the first
word in each line, the PUNCTUATION at the
end of each is also a major tool for the poet. At
times he will want us to make a full stop, other
times a gentle or slight pause, and even others
perhaps a sudden break, and so on. Ultimately,
then, poetry creates sensations, moods, and
images in the reader's mind.
The lines in a poem are most often divided into
sections looking as some sort of paragraphing.
These we call STANZAS. A stanza, therefore, is
the grouping of the lines, sort of like a
One way to identify a stanza is to count the number
of lines. Thus:
couplet (2 lines)
tercet (3 lines)
quatrain (4 lines)
cinquain (5 lines)
sestet (6 lines) (sometimes it's called a sexain)
septet (7 lines)
octave (8 lines)
Rhyme is the SONIC imitation usually of end syllables of
Two kinds of Rhyme:
1. END RHYME
In which the words at the end of a given line rhyme.
2. INTERNAL RHYME
This kind of rhyming is different from end rhyme in
that the rhyming takes place somewhere within the line and
not at the end. But most of us find it more natural to use
rhyming at the end and not in the middle of our poem's
lines. Still, the most widely read and enjoyed poetry artfully
combines these and other patterns and techniques for the
creation of the poems.
Ex: (Internal Rhyme)
It won't be LONG before my SONG ends the day,
And the FLOWERS near the TOWERS reach the sky.
Colonel John McCrae wrote a famous poem called 'In Flanders
Fields,' which uses end rhyme to create a rhythmic flow as he
expresses his grief over the fallen soldiers who died on Flanders'
battlefield during World War I. Here's the first stanza of the poem:
'In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.‘
In lines one and two, the words 'blow' and 'row' rhyme, as do the
words 'sky' and 'fly' in lines three and four. In line five, the word
'below' rhymes with the first two lines. In order to use end rhyme,
one does not need to make every line rhyme. Only two lines need to
rhyme in order to create end rhyme, but McCrae chose to use end
rhyme multiple times to enhance the musicality of the poem.
Rhyme contributes in
creating a pattern when read
appropriately. It creates a
special effect which results in
being pleasant and
Many poems that follow the AABB pattern are broken into
quatrains, which are four line stanzas, where the first and second
lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme.
He'll Never Know
I want to run, I want to hide
From all the pain he caused inside.
I want to scream, I want to cry.
Why can't I tell him goodbye?
I want to move on, I just can't let go.
I love him more than he will ever know.
I want to start over, I want to feel free!
But this pain will never leave me be.
He hurt me bad, the pain is deep.
From all the promises he couldn't keep.
All the lies, I heard him say.
Are in my head and just won't fade.
How can I forget him, leave the him behind.
Erase the memories from my mind.
He doesn't love me, and he never will.
He will never care how I feel.
In an ABAB format, the rhyming alternates lines. The first and third rhyme
with each other, and the second and fourth rhyme.
Oh Great God, You alone can ease
The pounding of my troubled heart
Only with You I am at peace
For You make all my fears depart
Comfort me with Your blazing love
And pacify my worried soul
Your grace of love from up above
Is healing love that makes me whole
Cast away all my doubts and fears
And lift my downcast spirit, Lord
Please let my heart be brought to cheer
By Your comforting love and Word
My body and mind may be frail
But your healing love keeps me strong
Your love will never ever fail
So to me, nothing will go wrong
- Jocelyn S. Ongdico
And it is rhyme which is one of the contributors to
the pattern created in reading or writing a poem:
SQUEEZE ... TEASE;
RUN ... FUN;
DEMONSTRATE ... WHAT SHE ATE.
Another contributor to pattern is the number of
syllables, as can be seen in the third set of the
examples given right above. DE-MONS-TRATE as
imitated by WHAT-SHE-ATE. Still another element
which contributes to pattern is the accommodation
and distribution of the lines. The reader is thus led
or even forced into following a given pattern, and
But the ultimate creator of pattern is the
combination of the STRESSED SYLLABLES IN ANY
PARTICULAR LINE of a poem.
This brings us to the topic of
RHYTHM, perhaps the pivot
point of all the elements,
because it is rhythm which
creates the pleasant gliding
effect when we read a poem. It
helps us as readers to travel
along the lines of the poem with
a certain enjoyable tempo
created by the components of
Silver bark of beech , and sallow
Bark of yellow birch and yellow
Twig of willow.
Stripe of green in moosewood maple,
Colour seen in leaf of apples,
Bark of popple.
Wood of popple pale as moonbeam,
Wood of oak for yoke and bran-beam,
Wood of hornbeam.
Silver bark of beech, and hollow
Stem of elder, tall and yellow
Twig of willow.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay
The systematic regularity in rhythm;
this systematic rhythm (or sound pattern) is usually
identified by examining the type of "foot" and
the number of feet.
1. Poetic Foot: The traditional line of metered poetry
contains a number of rhythmical units, which are
called feet. The feet in a line are distinguished as a
recurring pattern of two or three syllables("apple"
has 2 syllables, "banana" has 3 syllables, etc.). The
pattern, or foot, is designated according to
the number of syllables contained, and
the relationship in each foot between the strong and
__ = a stressed (or strong, or LOUD) syllable
U = an unstressed (or weak, or quiet) syllable
In other words, any line of poetry with a systematic
rhythm has a certain number of feet, and each
foot has two or three syllables with a constant beat
a. Iamb (Iambic) - weak syllable followed by strong
syllable. [Note that the pattern is sometimes fairly hard
to maintain, as in the third foot.]
b. Trochee (Trochaic): strong syllable followed by a
c. Anapest (Anapestic): two weak syllables followed
by a strong syllable.
In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed...
From "The Writer", by Richard Wilbur
d. Dactyl (Dactylic): a strong syllable followed
by two weak syllables.
Here's another (silly) example of dactylic rhythm.
DDDA was an / archer, who / shot at a / frog
DDDB was a / butcher, and / had a great / dog
DDDC was a / captain, all / covered with / lace
DDDD was a / drunkard, and / had a red / face.
e. Spondee (Spondaic): two strong syllables
(not common as lines, but appears as a foot). A
spondee usually appears at the end of a line.
2. The Number of Feet: The second part of meter is the number of
feet contained in a line.
six feet=hexameter (when hexameter is in iambic rhythm, it is called
Poems with an identifiable meter are therefore identified by the type
of feet (e.g. iambic) and the number of feet in a line (e.g.
pentameter). The following line is iambic pentameter because it (1)
has five feet [pentameter], and (2) each foot has two syllables with
the stress on the second syllable [iambic].
That time | of year | thou mayst | in me | behold
Thus, you will hear meter identified as iambic pentameter, trochaic
tetrameter, and so on.
3. Irregularity: Many metered poems in English avoid
perfectly regular rhythm because it is monotonous.
Irregularities in rhythm add interest and emphasis to the
lines. In this line:
The first foot substitutes a trochee for an iamb. Thus, the
basic iambic pentameter is varied with the opening
4. Blank Verse: Any poetry that does have a set metrical
pattern (usually iambic pentameter),
butdoes not have rhyme, is blank verse. Shakespeare
frequently used unrhymed iambic pentameter in his plays;
his works are an early example of blank verse.
5. Free Verse: Most modern poetry no longer follows
strict rules of meter or rhyme, especially throughout
an entire poem. Free verse, frankly, has no rules about
meter or rhyme whatsoever! [In other words, blank
verse has rhythm, but no rhyme, while free verse
has neither rhythm norrhyme.] So, you may find it
difficult to find regular iambic pentameter in a
modern poem, though you might find it in particular
lines. Modern poets do like to throw in the occasional
line or phrase of metered poetry, particularly if they’re
trying to create a certain effect. Free verse can also
apply to a lack of a formal verse structure.
EUPHONY is simply the combination of
agreeable and melodious sounds which
make a poem pleasant to listen to. It is the
nice- sounding tone of a poem when read.
This is the reason why a poem is never as
effective as when read aloud -- simply
because poetry in general deals a lot with
the euphonic sounds contained within it.
EUPHONY is perhaps one ultimate aim of
poetry. The esthete -- the beautiful. It is
poetry which allows mankind to express
such beauty from within. Poetry itself is
The purposeful repetition of a consonant sound in two or
more consecutive words, usually at the beginning of
Poem: "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak
and weary (1); rare and radiant maiden (11); And thesilken sad
uncertain rustling of each purple curtain (notice the deft use
of consonance as well) (13); Deep into thatdarkness peering,
long I stood there wondering, fearing,
/ Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream
One purpose of alliteration is to draw attention to
specific words. When combined with other sound
devices--rhyme, assonance, consonance, rhythm,
meter, for example--the effect multiplies. In line 1, Poe
repeats the w sound, with the last example
being weary. Weary also happens to end a couplet,
drawing added emphasis to it. The critical reader and
thinker, therefore must ask himself, why? The narrator
could be weary with life, the reason for which is given
throughout the poem; Poe may emphasize the
narrator's weariness as a clue that perhaps he's fallen
asleep and the entire episode is a dream or an
a) Repetition of WORDS/ IDEAS/ or, IMAGES;
The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning
of successive lines or stanzas.
Tomorrow when the sun comes out,
Tomorrow when the birds sing out,
Tomorrow it will come to be,
Tomorrow, when you'll come to me.
The repetition of a word or phrase at the end of
one line and at the beginning of the next; or, at the end
of the last line in a stanza or verse, and at the beginning
of the next stanza.
She will never come to this my land,
To this my land where I belong.
The use of words which imitate the
sounds they stand for.
The waves are racing
Towards the shore
Booming crashing…more more more!
The sand is crunching beaneth my feet
Boom crash crunch crunch
I march to the beat
Umbrellas whisking by
Storm clouds brewing
Land meets sky
Full grey clouds
Let the storm begin.
To the sea she went,
Without smiling they parted,
b) HYSTERON-PROTERON (the last first):
Then came the thunder.
Out she went.
Fear she felt.
-is the rhetorical term used to
designate the most
elementary form of
resemblances: most similes
are introduced by "like" or
"as." These comparisons are
usually between dissimilar
situations or objects that have
something in common, such
"My love is like a red,
- leaves out "like" or "as" and
implies a direct comparison
between objects or situations.
"All flesh is grass."
Storm At Sea
CRASHING waves... SMASHING seas...
Bringing sailors to their knees.
As they struggle to save their lives,
Hoping and praying help arrives.
The stormy seas as dark as coal,
Preventing the sailors from reaching their goal.
Battered and bruised, but still they fight...
Staring ahead into the dead of night.
Rocking and rolling as they try to stand...
Hoping against hope that they soon reach land.
Bleary eyed from lack of sleep.
Down in their cabins, huddled like sheep.
As they're rocking and rolling down beneath,
Weary sailors above resist with gritted teeth.
Hours later, as the storm starts to dissipate,
It leaves a calm tranquil sea in it wake.
The veteran sailors know the battle is over and they have won...
As they contemplate other storms yet to come...
By Amar Qamar
-is a form of metaphor, which in mentioning an important
(and attached) part signifies the whole (e.g. "hands" for
Boots on the ground—refers to soldiers
New wheels—refers to a new car
Ask for her hand—refers to asking a woman to marry
Suits—can refer to businesspeople
Plastic—can refer to credit cards
The White House—can refer to statements made by
individuals within the United States government
-is similar to synecdoche; it's a form of metaphor allowing
an object closely associated (but unattached) with a object
or situation to stand for the thing itself (e.g. the crown or
throne for a king or the bench for the judicial system).
The given lines are from Shakespeare’s “Julies Caesar” Act I.
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”
Mark Anthony uses “ears” to say that he wants the people
present there to listen to him attentively. It is a metonymy
because the word “ears” replaces the concept of
-is like a simile or metaphor with the
first term left out. "My love is like a red,
red rose" is a simile. If, through
persistent identification of the rose with
the beloved woman, we may come to
associate the rose with her and her
particular virtues. At this point, the rose
would become a symbol.
My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky
Spring and daisies means youth in Sara Teasdale’s “Wild Asters”:
In the spring, I asked the daisies
If his words were true,
And the clever, clear-eyed daisies
Brown and barren means growing old in Sara Teasdale’s “Wild Asters”:
Now the fields are brown and barren,
Bitter autumn blows,
Bitter autumn means death in Sara Teasdale’s “Wild Asters”:
Now the fields are brown and barren,
Bitter autumn blows,
And of all the stupid asters
Not one knows.
- William Wordsworth’s
- can be defined as a one to one
correspondence between a series of abstract
ideas and a series of images or pictures
presented in the form of a story or a
narrative. For example, George
Orwell's Animal Farm is an extended allegory
that represents the Russian Revolution
through a fable of a farm and its rebellious
1. “Animal Farm”, written by George Orwell, is an allegory that
uses animals on a farm to describe the overthrow of the last
of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the Communist
Revolution of Russia before WW I. The actions of the
animals on the farm are used to expose the greed and
corruption of the revolution. It also describes how powerful
people can change the ideology of a society. One of the
cardinal rules on the farm for the animals is:
“All animals are equal but a few are more equal than others.”
The animals on the farm represent different sections of Russian
society after the revolution.
For instance, the pigs represent those who came to power
following the revolution; “Mr. Jones” the owner of the farm
represents the overthrown Tsar Nicholas II; while “Boxer” the
horse, represents the laborer class etc. The use of allegory in
the novel allows Orwell to make his position clear about the
Russian Revolution and expose its evils.
-occurs when you treat abstractions or inanimate objects as
human, that is, giving them human attributes, powers, or
feelings (e.g., "nature wept" or "the wind whispered many
truths to me").
Look at the human characteristics used by Howard Nemerov
in his poem “The Vacuum.” Also notice how personification
reveals the speaker’s attitude toward housekeeping.
The house is quiet now
The vacuum cleaner sulks in the corner closet,
Its bag limp as a stopped lung, its mouth
Grinning into the floor, maybe at my
Slovenly life, my dog-dead youth.
I’ve lived this way long enough,
But when my old woman died her soul
Went into that vacuum cleaner, and I can’t bear
To see the bag swell like a belly, eating the dust
And the woolen mice, and begin to howl
Because there is old filth everywhere
She used to crawl, in corner and under the stair.
I know now how life is cheap as dirt,
And still the hungry, angry heart
Hangs on and howls, biting at air.
takes many forms. Most basically, irony is a figure of speech
in which actual intent is expressed through words that carry
the opposite meaning.
Paradox: usually a literal contradiction of terms or
Situational Irony: an unmailed letter
Dramatic Irony: audience has more information or
greater perspective than the characters
Verbal Irony: saying one thing but meaning another
Irony may be a positive or negative force. It is most valuable
as a mode of perception that assists the poet to see around
and behind opposed attitudes, and to see the often
conflicting interpretations that come from our examination
We come across the following lines
in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Act I,
“Go ask his name: if he be married.
My grave is like to be my wedding bed.”
Juliet commands her nurse to find out who
Romeo was and says if he were married,
then her wedding bed would be her grave. It
is a verbal irony because the audience knows
that she is going to die on her wedding bed.
The use of language, sensory language, language which stimulates the reader's
imagination. The use of the sensory language which serves to transmit or invoke
the same or similar images in the reader's mind.
Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
The use of variety in length of lines, rhythm, rhyme,
distribution of lines and words, and anything else
which adds to the EFFECTIVENESS of the poem.
Variety may be used to create humor, depression, or
many other moods or sensations. The effective poet
learns to use variety whenever and wherever it serves
his purposes of expression and externalization of
Takes place when two or more words close to one
another repeat the same vowel sound but start with
different consonant sounds.
“Men sell the wedding bells.”
The same vowel sound of the short vowel “-e-” repeats
itself in almost all the words excluding the definite
article. The words do share the same vowel sounds but
start with different consonant sounds
unlike alliteration that involves repetition of the same
TYPES of POETRY
There are many kinds or types of poems. Some
describe what poets see; some what they remember;
and others what they perceive through other senses.
But other poems are intended to tell a story. These are
called NARRATIVE POEMS. Just like the regular
stories which you read in your literature courses, a
narrative poem also has the same basic elements. It
has a setting, one or more characters in it, usually a
conflict, a plot which builds up to a climax, and even a
conclusion, oftentimes. The story which the narrative
poem tells can also be about almost anything.
On Being Human
Angelic minds, they say, by
simple intelligence Behold
the Forms of nature.
They discern Unerringly
the Archtypes, all the
verities Which mortals lack
or indirectly learn.
Transparent in primordial
truth, unvarying, Pure
Earthness and right
Stonehood from their clear,
High eminence are seen;
unveiled, the seminal Huge
The Tree-ness of the tree
they know-the meaning of
Arboreal life, how from
earth's salty lap The solar
beam uplifts it; all the
holiness Enacted by leaves'
fall and rising sap;
But never an angel knows
the knife-edged severance
Of sun from shadow where
the trees begin, The
blessed cool at every pore
caressing us -An angel has
They see the Form of Air;
but mortals breathing it
Drink the whole summer
down into the breast.
The lavish pinks, the field
new-mown, the ravishing
Sea-smells, the wood-fire
smoke that whispers Rest.
The tremor on the rippled
pool of memory That from
each smell in widening
circles goes, The pleasure
and the pang --can angels
measure it? An angel has
The nourishing of life, and
how it flourishes On death,
and why, they utterly know;
but not The hill-born,
earthy spring, the dark cold
The ripe peach from the
southern wall still hot Full-
bellied tankards foamy-
topped, the delicate Half-
lyric lamb, a new loaf's
billowy curves, Nor
porridge, nor the tingling
taste of oranges.
—An angel has no nerves.
Far richer they! I know the
senses' witchery Guards us
like air, from heavens too
big to see; Imminent death
to man that barb'd
sublimity And dazzling
edge of beauty unsheathed
Yet here, within this tiny,
charmed interior, This
parlour of the brain, their
Maker shares With living
men some secrets in a
privacy Forever ours, not
LYRIC poetry, also called DESCRIPTIVE poetry, is a
very personal kind of poetry. It is usually brief,
melodic, and very expressive. It is descriptive in
essence, and conveys IMPRESSIONS, FEELINGS,
EMOTIONS, SENSATIONS, and very personal and
INTIMATE VIEWS concerning an experience. Lyric or
Descriptive poetry may touch such themes as: nature,
beauty, love and friendship, the joy of life, death,
patriotism, and the like.
(aka I heard a fly buzz when I died )
I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.
It is probable that you, as student of literature, have
never really stopped to think how versatile poetry is.
But it is because poetry is so FLEXIBLE, so PLASTIC,
that there are so many varieties of poetry in the world
or nation. The plasticity of poetry makes it possible
therefore for author's to bend and shape this kind of
written expression to suit their needs or purposes.
It is no wonder then that some poets should choose
HUMOR as their main purpose in writing a poem.
MRS. Mehitable Marcia
MooreWas a dame of
superior mind,With a
gown which, modestly
greatly puffed up
The bustle she wore was
remarkably nice and
It was made of rubber and
edged with laceAnd
riveted all with
brass,And the whole
The ladies all said when
she hove in viewLike the
round and rising
moon:"She's a stuck up
thing!" which was partly
true,And men called her
the Captive Balloon.
To Manhattan Beach for a
bath one dayShe went
and she said: "O dear!If I
leave of this what will
people say?I shall look
so uncommonly queer!
" So a costume she had
accordingly madeTo take
it all nicely in,And when
she appeared in that suit
arrayed,She was greeted
with many a grin.
Proudly and happily
waded out into the
wet;But the water was
very, very profound,And
her feet and her
As her bubble drifted away
from the shore,On the
glassy billows borne,All
cried: "Why, where is
Mehitable Moore?I saw
her go in, I'll be sworn!
" Then the bulb it swelled
as the sun grew hot,Till
it burst with a sullen
roar,And the sea like oil
closed over the spot--
Farewell, O Mehitable
- by: Ambrose Bierce
FORMS of POETRY
A LIMERICK is a special type of
poem intended to be humorous. It
consists of five lines only. It is
usually a nonsense verse which
often concerns something
ridiculous. But even so, it follows a
regular and distinctive pattern.
This is a traditional form of poetry which
originated in Japan. In form, it is apparently a
very simplistic sort of poetry, but the truth is that
it is an art trying to create Haiku poetry with the
beauty and effectiveness it requires.
Haiku poetry consists of only THREE lines in all.
The first line of the Haiku poem must have FIVE
syllables; the second line must have SEVEN
syllables; and finally, the third must consist of
another FIVE, just like the first. (5/7/5). Thus, the
Haiku poet is obliged to describe as vividly as
possible, in only seventeen syllables, a picture or
IMAGE or SCENE which beautifully forms sharply
in the reader's mind.
What is the Structure of a Haiku Poem?
A Haiku consists of 3 lines and 17 syllables.
Each line has a set number of syllables see below:
Line 1 – 5 syllables
Line 2 – 7 syllables
Line 3 – 5 syllables
An Example of a Haiku Poem
(5) The sky is so blue.
(7) The sun is so warm up high.
(5) I love the summer.
Haiku poems don't need to rhyme, but for more of a
challenge some poets try to rhyme lines 1 and 3.
One of the oldest types of poetry is a special kind of
Narrative poem known as the BALLAD. The Ballad
tells a story and happens to be quite lengthy. As a
rule, a Ballad is concerned with a sharp CONFLICT
and with deep HUMAN EMOTION. Once in a great
while, though, a ballad here and there will deal
with the funnier side of life. But, as a rule ballads
dealt with love, honor, courage, and death.
The BALLAD STANZA contains FOUR LINES. The
FOURTH line rhymes with the SECOND. The FIRST
and THIRD lines usually have FOUR ACCENTED
SYLLABLES while the SECOND and FOURTH have
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee; —
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love
I and my Annabel Lee —
With a love that the wingéd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night
Chilling my Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up, in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me;
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we —
Of many far wiser than we —
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: —
For the moon never beams without bringing me
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride
In her sepulchre there by the sea —
In her tomb by the side of the sea.
Edgar Allan Poe (1849)
The poet uses free form to make the poem fit the
contents and to express the mood or feeling of his
intentions or purposes. The length of the lines is
irregular, the indentation of the lines may also vary
from one to the next, it does use rhythm, but it
seldom uses end rhyme nor regular stanzas.
Capitalization of the first letter in each line and
proper nouns is unorthodox or conveniently
changed. Punctuation is equally affected, and the
distribution of the lines and words is entirely in the
hands of the writer. Most poetry we read today,
therefore, is Free Verse.
After the Sea-Ship
After the Sea-Ship—after the whistling winds;
After the white-gray sails, taut to their spars and ropes,
Below, a myriad, myriad waves, hastening, lifting up their
Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship:
Waves of the ocean, bubbling and gurgling, blithely
Waves, undulating waves—liquid, uneven, emulous waves,
Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant, with
Where the great Vessel, sailing and tacking, displaced the
by Walt Whitman
It is a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a
legendary or historical hero.
The Iliad (800 BCE)
Iliad is another example of an epic. It was written by the popular Greek
poet, Homer. It relates the story of the Trojan wars, involving themes
of courage, boldness, love for one’s country and nostalgia of family.
However, it describes many legends related to the siege of Troy, the
events took place before the siege, the gathering of the warriors prior
to the siege and the causes of the war. Later, the epic foretold the
looming death of Achilles and the destruction of Troy. The style of
narration is grand, and suits an epic poem — the reason that it is still
one the most celebrated work of antiquity.
It is a lyric poem consisting of 14 lines and, in the English
version, is usually written in iambic pentameter. There are
two basic kinds of sonnets: the Italian (or Petrarchan)
sonnet and the Shakespearean (or Elizabethan/English)
sonnet. The Italian/Petrarchan sonnet is named after
Petrarch, an Italian Renaissance poet. The Petrarchan
sonnet consists of an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six
The Shakespearean sonnet consists of three quatrains (four
lines each) and a concluding couplet (two lines). The
Petrarchan sonnet tends to divide the thought into two
parts (argument and conclusion); the Shakespearean, into
four (the final couplet is the summary).
A Shakespearean sonnet is generally written in an iambic
pentameter, there are 10 syllables in each line. The rhythm of
the lines must be as below:
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die.
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee
It is a lyric poem that mourns the dead. [It's not to be
confused with a eulogy.]
It has no set metric or stanzaic pattern, but it usually
begins by reminiscing about the dead person, then
laments the reason for the death, and then resolves the
grief by concluding that death leads to immortality. It
often uses "apostrophe" (calling out to the dead
person) as a literary technique. It can have a fairly
formal style, and sound similar to an ode.
O CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN
O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills; 10
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
- WALT WITMAN
It is usually a lyric poem of moderate length, with a serious subject, an elevated
style, and an elaborate stanza pattern.
The Ship of State (Odes I, 14)
Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace) (65-8 B.C.)
On Ship! New billows sweep thee out
Seaward. What wilt thou? Hold the port, be stout
See'st not thy mast
How rent by stiff Southwestern blast?Thy side, of rowers how forlorn?
Thine hull, with groaning yards, with rigging torn,
Can ill sustain
The fierce, and ever fiercer main;Thy gods, no more than sails entire,
From whom yet once they need might aid require,
Oh Pontic Pine,
The first of woodland stocks is thine.Yet race and name are but as dust,
Not painted sterns gave storm-tost seamen trust;
Unless thou dare
To be the sport of storms, beware.O fold at best a weary weight,
A yearning care and constant strain of late,
O shun the seas
That girt those glittering Cyclades