Different Types of Poetry

Poetry is a melodic form of storytelling that conveys thoughts, feelings and sometimes characters. It is like art in the sense that certain styles require their own technique, while other styles warrant no technique at all. In the world of poetry, you find a variety of themes, lengths, meters and rhymes that are unique to the poets who mastered them.


The cinquain, a five-lined poem, was first seen in medieval French poetry. In the English language, the majority of cinquains follow one of three rhyme schemes: ababb, abaab or abccb. Cinquain poems were commonly written by poets of the 16th and 17th centuries, such as George Herbert and Edmund Waller, as well as by Edgar Allen Poe in his poem "To Helen."


Known for their length, epic poems are long stories that tell tales in verse of heroic journeys, dramatic adventures, mythical traditions and superhuman occurrences. Epic poems can be as long as novels, if the poet so intends. Some famous epic poems include Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey," and the Babylonian "Gilgamesh." Many epic poems could be recited orally and produced as plays. No set rhyme scheme is assigned to the epic poetry style.


A haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that uses simple yet descriptive language to convey feelings or images of nature. Traditionally, a haiku is written in three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line and five in the final line. Rhyme schemes do not apply for haikus because rhyming is not part of the technique. Writing an effective haiku can be challenging, given the syllable and line restrictions.


Sonnets are poems that stem from the Italian word "sonetto," which translates to "a little sound or song." Poets have composed this classical form of poetry for many centuries. Traditionally, sonnets contain 14 lines in iambic pentameter, with a variety of rhyme schemes. However, sonnets can be sequenced, which means the 14 lines are grouped together to portray one theme, while other stanzas of 14 lines discuss other themes. In this format, the sonnet reads as a story. William Shakespeare popularized the sonnet such that the term "Shakespearean sonnet "was coined. Other types of sonnets exist in the poetry world as well, such as Petrarchan and Spenserian sonnets.


Limericks are five-line verses most commonly used for children's poems. They are typically silly, nonsensical and entertaining, with an aabba rhyme scheme. In limericks, it is not uncommon to see personification, so that animals and inanimate objects speak to one another. This style of poetry gives way to the imagination. One of the best-known writers of limericks was 19th-century poet Edward Lear.

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