Different Styles of Rhyming Poems

Poetry and rhyme are as closely associated as wine and cheese. And, just as it is with wines and cheeses, there are many different varieties of rhyming poetry. These include traditional forms like sonnets, stanzas, octaves and lais, as well as more modern forms such as the novelinee and the decuain. Although there are many different styles of rhyming poetry, there are similarities between those styles that are from the same geographic area. Specifically, you can see the similarities between the traditional styles from Europe, the British Isles, Asia and the Middle East quite easily.

Continental Europe

The poetry styles of continental Europe include French forms such as the aubade, the ballade, the cinquain, the villanelle, and the virelai. Along with their regular rhyme schemes, all of these poetic styles have no set meter, but instead require a given number of syllables per line.

Various Italian forms of rhyming poetry also originate from continental Europe. These styles include the canzonetta, the envelope stanza, the rhyme royal, the Petrarchan sonnet, and the terza rima. Many of the styles of Italian origin include alternating rhyme rather than coupled rhymes.

Spanish styles of rhyming poems, including the glosa, the redondilla, the septilla, and the quintella avoid the Italian deviation in rhyme scheme, and generally use coupled rhymes.

The balassi stanza, believed to have been originated by the Hungarian poet Balint Balassi, also comes from continental Europe. This form of poetry involves varying line lengths that are accentuated by a regular rhyme scheme.

The very ancient ode form comes from ancient Greece and Rome, the ancient major cultural centers of the continent.

British Isles

The poetry styles of the British Isles are traditionally straight forward but usually involve a twist, such as the use of a refrain, or a deceptively difficult meter. Rhyming forms of poetry from the British Isles include the clerihew, the English quintain, the limerick, and the English sonnet. Ancient Celtic forms of poetry also come from the British Isles, though these forms involve very intricate linking and nested rhyme schemes which can be difficult to execute in English.


Asian poetry styles are mostly quite different from Western forms. However, some Asian poetry styles have been used by Western poets in the past and some of these forms involve a regular rhyme. Rhyming styles of Asian poetry include the luc bat form (from Vietnam), the pathya vat (from Cambodia), the pantoum (from Malaysia), the saraband, the than bauk, and the ya du (all from Burma). These rhyming styles of poetry are unique because they make liberal use of internal rhyme (that is, rhyming a word from the middle of one line with another word somewhere in the next line).

The Middle East

Middle Eastern rhyming forms of poetry are among some of the oldest poetic styles still in use. These styles include the ghazal, the mathnawi (from Persia, which is now Iran), the muzdawidj, and the rubaiyat (from Persia). You can often tell these forms on sight because of their straightforward couplet or triplet rhyming sequences of final words.

Modern Forms

In addition to rhyming styles of poetry that have been used for hundreds of years and that are regarded as traditional, modern forms have been created. These styles are the zani-la rhyme (by Laura Lamarca), the catena rondo (by Robin Skelton), the decuain (by Shelley A. Cephas), the novelinee (by Sarah Rayburn), and the terzanelle (by Lewis Turco). These styles are unique because they vary traditional rhyming poetry styles by using half rhymes (as in the catena rondo), or using rhyming words in the same line (as in the zani-la rhyme).

About the Author

Nicholas Zacharewicz is the holder of a Master of Arts in English and has had poetry, short fiction and articles published in anthologies, journals, newspapers and online. His writing specializes in Medieval literature and culture, genre fiction, and video games.

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