This is the "Elements of Poetry" page of the "Poetry" guide.
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Last Updated: Sep 25, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Elements of Poetry Print Page

Types of Poetry

The three main kinds are lyric, narrative, and dramatic.

Lyric poetry is the most common type and includes haiku, ode, elegy, and limerick.

Narrative poetry tells a story.  Epic poems tell about conflicts or history and ballads tell a story about a particular person

Dramatic poetry lets the poems characters tell the story.

 Poetry Forms and Examples


Strategies for Reading poetry

Strategies for reading poetry:

 *Preview the poem- Look at the shape, number of stanzas and lines, punctuation, and rhyme scheme of poem.

 *Read the poem aloud a few times- Hearing how a poem sounds sometimes makes it more sensible.

 *Visualize the images- Paint a picture in your mind.  Do the images remind you of something?

 *Clarify words/phrases- Do certain words or phrases/figurative language stand out? Why?

 *Evaluate the poem’s theme- What message is the poet trying to send or help me understand?  Make inferences and draw conclusions based on the text in the poem.


Rhythm and Meter

Rhythm and meter.   Rhythm in poetry means the flow of sound produced by language. This pattern of rhythm in a poem is called meter.

Meters are based on syllables and on stress (the vocal emphasis given to a syllable).  Three main types of meter include syllabic, stress, and foot-verse.

Syllabic meters are based on the number of syllables in a line. The most common syllabic meters are continuous syllabics and stanzaic syllabics.

In continuous syllabics, the poet uses the same number of syllables in each line of the poem. In stanzaic syllabics, the number of syllables in each line of the first stanza is repeated in the corresponding lines of all other stanzas.

Stress meters are based on the number of stressed syllables in a line.

Foot-verse meters involve both the number of syllables and the position of the stressed syllables. These combinations form feet. The most widely used type is iambic pentameter.

Diehl, Paul B. "Poetry." World Book Student. World Book, 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2010


Sounds and Imagery

Sounds help create effects in poems. If the words at the ends of two or more lines of a poem rhyme, the poem has a rhyme scheme.

Repetition of the same first sounds in words is called alliteration. Consonance occurs when the same consonant sound is repeated. The repetition of a vowel sound is called assonance.

Imagery refers to the sensations that language creates in the mind. These sensations, or images, are often thought of as being like pictures.

Diehl, Paul B. "Poetry." World Book Student. World Book, 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2010



Newly Hatched by Beverly McLoughland

The beginning of a new poem


 Out of the shell of thought,

Starts life


Naked as a baby bird

Newly hatched in spring.

It is all

Mouth, Wide-open,

Hungry for words.

What happy faith a writer has

To believe such noisy peeping

Will turn to song.

What gutsy pride

To trust

That this pale, ungainly creature

Will someday




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