Poetry terms – Types Of Poetry/Parts of Poetry

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Last updated: December 16, 2019
Closed form
A type of form or structure in poetry characterized by regularity and consistency in such elements as rhyme, line length, and metrical pattern. Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” provides one of many examples. A single stanza illustrates some of the features of closed form:Whose woods these are I think I know.His house is in the village though.He will not see me stopping hereTo watch his woods fill up with snow.

A category of poem that follows fixed rules and has a regular pattern of rhythm and/or rhyme

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Open form
A type of structure or form in poetry characterized by freedom from regularity and consistency in such elements as rhyme, line length, metrical pattern, and overall poetic structure. E.E.

Cummings’s “[Buffalo Bill’s]” is one example. A category of poem that does not follow fixed rules or have patterns

Quatrain
A four-line stanza in a poem, the first four lines and the second four lines in a Petrachan sonnet. A Shakespearean sonnet contains three quatrains followed by a couplet.A stanza of four lines

Couplet
A pair of rhymed lines that may or may not constitute a separate stanza in a poem. Shakespeare’s sonnets end in rhymed couplets, as in “For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings / That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”Two lines that rhyme and are of the same rhythm

Octave
A poem of eight lines. An eight-line unit, which may constitute a stanza; or a section of a poem, as in the octave of a sonnet.

Sestet
The name given to the second division of an Italian sonnet (as opposed to an English or Spenserian Sonnet), which must consist of an octave, of eight lines, succeeded by a sestet, of six lines.

The last six lines of a sonnet

Ballad
A narrative poem written in four-line stanzas, characterized by swift action and narrated in a direct style. The Anonymous medieval ballad, “Barbara Allan,” exemplifies the genre.A poem that tells a story in stanzas of two or four lines, and often has a refrain

Free verse
Poetry without a regular pattern of meter or rhyme. The verse is “free” in not being bound by earlier poetic conventions requiring poems to adhere to an explicit and identifiable meter and rhyme scheme in a form such as the sonnet or ballad. Modern and contemporary poets of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries often employ free verse. Williams’s “This Is Just to Say” is one of many examples.Poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter

Parody
A humorous, mocking imitation of a literary work, sometimes sarcastic, but often playful and even respectful in its playful imitation. Examples include Bob McKenty’s parody of Frost’s “Dust of Snow” and Kenneth Koch’s parody of Williams’s “This is Just to Say.

“A poem written in the style of another poem, usually humorous

Elegy
A lyric poem that laments the dead. Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” is elegiac in tone. A more explicitly identified elegy is W.H.

Auden’s “In Memory of William Butler Yeats” and his “Funeral Blues.”A poem of serious reflection, typically that laments the dead

Blank verse
A line of poetry or prose in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Shakespeare’s sonnets, Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, and Robert Frost’s meditative poems such as “Birches” include many lines of blank verse. Here are the opening blank verse lines of “Birches”: When I see birches bend to left and right / Across the lines of straighter darker trees, / I like to think some boy’s been swinging themVerse without rhyme that uses iambic pentameter

Epic
A long narrative poem that records the adventures of a hero. Epics typically chronicle the origins of a civilization and embody its central values. Examples from western literature include Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Milton’s Paradise Lost.Long narrative poem telling of a hero’s deeds

Narrative poem
A poem that tells a story

Epigram
A brief witty poem, often satirical.

Alexander Pope’s “Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog” exemplifies the genre:-I am his Highness’ dog at Kew;Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?A saying or remark expressing an idea in a clever way, a brief witty poem often satirical (Alexander Pope’s “Epigram Engraved on the Color of the Dog”)

Ode
A long, stately poem in stanzas of varied length, meter, and form. Usually a serious poem on an exalted subject, such as Horace’s “Eheu fugaces,” but sometimes a more lighthearted work, such as Neruda’s “Ode to My Socks.”A lyric poem in the form of an address to a subject

Aubade
a love poem or song

Sonnet
A fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter. The Shakespearean or English sonnet is arranged as three quatrains and a final couplet, rhyming abab cdcd efef gg.

The Petrarchan or Italian sonnet divides into two parts: an eight-line octave and a six-line sestet, rhyming abba abba cde cde or abba abba cd cd cd.A poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, in English typically having ten syllables per line and in iambic pentameter

Sestina
A poem of thirty-nine lines and written in iambic pentameter. Its six-line stanza repeat in an intricate and prescribed order the final word in each of the first six lines.

After the sixth stanza, there is a three-line envoi, which uses the six repeating words, two per line.A poem with six stanzas of six lines and a final triplet, all stanzas having the same six words at the lines-ends in six different sequences that follow a fixed pattern, and with all six words appearing in the closing three-line envoi

Villanelle
A nineteen-line lyric poem that relies heavily on repetition. The first and third lines alternate throughout the poem, which is structured in six stanzas –five tercets and a concluding quatrain. Examples include Bishop’s “One Art,” Roethke’s “The Waking,” and Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”A nineteen line poem with two rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the opening tercet recurring alternately at the end of the concluding quatrain

Haiku
a short, unrhymed Japenese poetic form with three lines of 5-7-5 syllables

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