Poem Structure: What are stanzas in poems? Plus, Organize Poem Lines

Young brunette woman sitting with her notebook in her hand and writing things down.

One of the most challenging elements of english poetry is organization. ‌According to which kind of poem you are writing, there are rules that must be followed.‌ For the young writer especially, these rules can be confusing and can often back your writing into seemingly inescapable corners. For this reason it is important to write poetry. Poetry forces a writer to organize, and use precise words to express meaning. Here are the different types of poems and rhyming patterns.

Simple Rhyming Poem

To create a simple rhyming poem, the poet must first determine their rhyme scheme and meter.

Rhyme scheme is the pattern of end of line rhymes. Some common rhyme schemes are rhyming couplets, and ABCB.‌ Couplets work like this:

If you put lines in a pair A

Rhyming couplets are there A

Whereas ABCB works like this:

When your rhyme takes its time A

Meandering around B

Waiting every other line C

Before the next is found B

As you can see, the letter labeling at the end of the line coincides with the rhyming sounds. You can make the end of line rhyme scheme whatever you want, for example, ABBA, AABA, or ABCC. The important part is that once you determine your rhyme scheme, you should organize the lines so they match the pattern and general line length.

Meter refers to the number of syllables per line and the pattern of how they are stressed.‌ The stresses give the poem a rhythm that makes them seem as though they should be sung rather than spoken. Whatever number of syllables you chose and whatever rhythm you give the poem, they should remain consistent throughout the poem.


A quatrain is a type of traditional rhyming short poem that is organized into four line stanzas‌. Stanzas are blocks of lines separated by a space or line break. They are the poetic equivalent of a paragraph in prose writing. Every four-line stanza has a rhyme scheme such as AABB, ABCB, or ABBA group of lines. The chosen rhyme scheme stays consistent throughout the poem.


Sonnets are another traditional type of rhyming poem. It is an Italian form, including the terza. ‌These contain 14 lines organized into a uniform rhyme scheme.‌ What rhyme scheme is chosen is up to the writer. They can be done in couplets: AA BB CC DD EE FF GG; or in other varieties: ABCB DEFE GHIH JJ, or ABBA CDDC EFFE GG.

The meter of a true sonnet is Iambic Pentameter, which means ‌the first syllable is unstressed and the second is stressed.‌ This pattern repeats throughout the line, so that the rhythm rises and falls.


The writer of a humorous limerick does not get to choose anything about their rhyme scheme or poetic form, or even the number of lines. ‌They are always five lines long with a rhyme scheme of AABBA.‌ Lines 1, 2 and 5 have 9 syllables while lines 3 and 4 have 6 syllables.

There once was a poet who didn't

Want his poem to have a limit

So he wrote in a rush

And without to much fuss

He found that a novel was in it


Haikus are a traditional Japanese form of nature poetry. ‌In a haiku, the lines of poetry are organized in a group of three.‌ Rhyming and meter are unimportant unless the poet chooses to use them. What is important is the syllables used in each line. The first line and last lines have five syllables and the middle line has seven.

In this fine haiku 5 syllables

I will show you what to do 7 syllables

Line by lovely line. 5 syllables


In an acrostic poem, the lines are organized by their first letter rather than end of line rhymes.‌ The poet chooses a key word and starts each line with a letter from that word. There is no stressed syllables or unstressed syllables and it is not metrical.

Plenty of poets

Organize acrostically

Eliminating doubts about

Meanings you see


In a concrete poem, the lines are organized into a shape that represents the topic of the poem.‌ For example, a poem about the ocean may be written in wavy lines to represent the tide, or a poem about a tree may have words branching out from a central trunk-like word.

Free Verse

Many student writers pick free verse poetry because to them it seems like there is no wrong way to organize their poem lines, this is arguably the easiest form of poetry in the English language. The logic is that, if there are no rules, I can't get it wrong. This isn't the case. ‌Even in free verse poetry there should be an apparent reason for the line organization.‌ For example, a special word may get a line all its own for emphasis, or complete thoughts or words are broken up to show chaos. As with any poetic decision, you should have a compelling reason to start and end lines where you choose.

Another popular form of poetry is blank verse, which is common for epic poems where the poems structure is iambic pentameter.

Popular authors that you can look to for ideas include William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, and Emily Dickinson.


When writing poetry, use alliteration and personification for a good piece of creative writing

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