Poetry is a unique literary art form that has been written and read for millenia. The basics of poetic form are often a major part of secondary and post-secondary study. An understanding of the elements of poetry is important when reading and writing poetry. Recognizing poetic devices and elements are the first step to a deeper understanding of poetry.
Structure and Form
The structure and form of poetry are two important elements of poetry. How a poem looks on a page is its form and can have an effect on the meaning of a poem. A poem can have many different structures. The basic structure of a poem includes a poem’s lines and stanzas. Some poetry has a specific structure. Japanese haiku is known for its stringent form, while ballads and couplets also have their own distinct structure.
Rhythm and Rhyme
Poems often include poetic devices like rhythm and rhyme. When a poem doesn’t rhyme or have a particular rhythm, then it’s known as free verse. When a poem simply doesn’t rhyme, it’s called blank verse. When the last words in a poem’s lines rhyme, it’s called end rhyme. The use of rhyme and rhythm in poetry often were used as mnemonic devices to help people remember the poem. Often poetry was sung instead of read, and therefore it had to have a certain rhythm and lyrical quality.
Poetry uses poetic and literary devices that are also found to some degree in prose. Alliteration, symbolism, personification and imagery are all devices used in poetry. Alliteration, or the repetition of an initial consonant sound, is often used in poetry to emphasize certain words and to make them rhyme. Personification, or the humanizing of inanimate objects or animals, often gives poem depth. Poetic imagery and sensory language helps readers to fully experience a poem and engage with it.
The elements of poetry are used by successful poets to convey certain meanings and themes. While there are many poetic elements and devices, many poets are selective in their usage of elements and devices. They often choose the tool that achieves the effect they want to convey.