14+ Types of Poem to Know With Practical Examples

Did you know that the types of poems are too many?

They are created in multiple languages, and you can even create one yourself.

Don’t get overwhelmed by that statement, it just shows that there is a form suitable for every poet and writer.

Go through this guide to find the type of poem that suits your preference as a poet.

You will find it exciting!

Terms Used in Poetry

These are the primary terms that will aid you in understanding the types of poetry we will discuss below.

Meter: It is a poem’s structure in terms of rhythm. It is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllabi. The stressed syllabus is the ones that sound long, unstressed are those that sound short.

Stanza: This is the amount of lines in poetry that are grouped by their length, meter, or rhyme scheme.

Rhyme scheme: This is the pattern of rhyme that comes at the end of each line or verse.

Syllable: The single, unbroken sound of a spoken or written word.

Couplet: Two-line stanza.

Tercet: Three-line stanza.

Quatrain: Four-line stanza.

Cinquain: Five-line stanza.

Sestet: Six-line stanza.

Form: This is the overall structure of a poem. Form determines a poem’s meter and rhyme scheme.

Types of Poetry

These are the most common types of poems


Haiku, also written as hokku, is an old style of Japanese poetry that is very popular all over the world.

They are short poems with only three lines (tercet). The second line has seven syllables, and the first and third lines each have five.

Poets usually write haikus to describe a feeling or event It doesn’t have a rhyme.

If you are in school, you may have written or will write haiku at some point. You can practice at home as well. Have some fun with it.

Here’s an example of a haiku poem, “Over the Wintry” by Natsume Sōseki:

Over the wintry

Forest, winds howl in rage

With no leaves to blow.

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Free verse

Modern people use free verse while writing poetry because they have a lot of freedom and don’t have to follow so many rules.

Be free and creative. Free verse doesn’t have to rhyme, and the poet can write as many lines or stanzas as they want.

Even though free verse seems easy, it can be difficult to master because there are no defined rules.

“Autumn” by T.E. Hulme is an example of a short free verse poem:

A touch of cold in the Autumn night—

I walked abroad,

And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge

Like a red-faced farmer.

I did not stop to speak, but nodded,

And round about were the wistful stars

With white faces like town children.


This is one of the oldest forms of poetry made popular by William Shakespeare. However, Petrarch, an Italian poet, created it in the 13th century.

The word “sonnet” is from the Italian word “sonnetto,” which means “little song.”

Sonnets are usually fourteen lines long and focus on love.

We already mentioned that there is a version of the Sonnet used by Shakespeare and another by the original writer Petrarch.

Shakespearean sonnets follow this rhyme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, while Petrarchan (Italian) sonnets follow rhyme ABBA ABBA CDE CDE.

Here’s one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, Sonnet 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


Villanelle is another old poetry style that has many rules to it. It was developed in France.

 It comprises 19 lines in total, an ending stanza of four lines (quatrain), and five stanzas of three lines each. In total, it has 19 lines and 6 stanzas.

The first five stanzas each include three lines, followed by four lines in the last stanza.

The rhyme pattern is ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA and this shows that this type of poetry only contains two rhymes.

Villanelle has a lot of repetition as well.

Lines six, twelve, and eighteen will repeat line one, while line nine, fifteen, and nineteen will repeat line three.

Basically, the first and third lines serve as the last lines, which are swapped in each subsequent stanza.

The real challenge with learning this poetry type is understanding the repeated lines. Trust me, repeating reduces the extra work in writing 19 different lines but the challenge far exceeds this advantage.

“My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night,” a famous villanelle by Anthony Lawrence:

My darling turns to poetry at night.

What began as flirtation, an aside

Between abstract expression and first light

Now finds form as a silent, startled flight

Of commas on her face—a breath, a word…

My darling turns to poetry at night.

When rain inspires the night birds to create

Rhyme and formal verse, stanzas can be made

Between abstract expression and first light.

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late

Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.

My darling turns to poetry at night.

I watch her turn, I do not sleep. I wait

For symbols, for a sign that fear has die

Between abstract expression and first light.

Her dreams have night vision, and in her sight

Our bodies leave ghostprints on the bed.

My darling turns to poetry at night

Between abstract expression and first light.


Limericks are amusing and oftentimes rude poetry. It became popular in the nineteenth century by Edward Lear.

Lines one, two, and five are all longer than lines three and four its rhyme scheme of AABBA.

Most times, the punchline comes in the last line.

They have a unique sound, so chances are you’ve heard or read about them before.

Limericks are single-stanza with five-line. The first, second, and fifth lines usually include seven to ten syllables, while the third and fourth lines contain five to seven syllables.

An example is “There Was A Small Boy Of Quebec” by Rudyard Kipling:

There was a small boy of Quebec,

Who was buried in snow to his neck;

When they said, “Are you friz?”

He replied, “Yes, I is—

But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.”

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Ode is one of the oldest types of poems. This poem is said to have started in ancient Greece a long time ago.

The poem was originally performed with an instrument, and the name “ode” is derived from the Greek word “aeidein,” which means “to sing or chant.”

An ode is often brief and written to honor a person, item, or occasion. It expresses intense emotions and is usually short.

It serves as a form of homage or honor to the subject. The writer pays tribute to the subject, who can be a live person or an inanimate thing.

Here is an example of an ode by the Greek poet Pindar:

Creatures for a day! What is a man?

What is he not? A dream of a shadow

Is our mortal being. But when it comes to men

A gleam of splendor given of heaven

Then rests on them a light of glory

And blesséd are their days


Elegy has a fixed theme which is about death, however, it does have rules like other types of poems.

Even though you can write an elegy about a group of people, they are most usually about a loved one who has died.

Although it has a sad tone, elegies often end with a happy shout!

Just like an Ode, an elegy honors a person or idea. But, in this case, the subject of the poem has died or been lost.

Poets have a habit of composing elegies for one another once a fellow poet dies.

Elegy does not have a strict meter or rhyme system. Feel free to play with them.  


A ballad is another traditional type of poem that shows an emotional story. The story can sometimes be dramatic.  

Ballads originated in Europe in the late Middle Ages and have been passed down from generation to generation, and it is often with music.

Ballads have a structure and rules to their use; they contain four lines, or quatrains, with an ABAB or ABCB rhyme pattern.

However, it is a type of poem that which the form is not stringent, it is flexible, therefore, you can modify it to suit you as a writer.

Most of the pop songs you listen to today are ballads. It is the inspiration for our modern, slow, seductive love songs.

Classic ballads are simply dialogue between two people sharing words.


 A cinquain is a five-line poem consisting of twenty-two syllables: two in the first line, then four, then six, then eight, and then two syllables again in the last line.

It is a very simple type of poem which many writers think is difficult but with lovely musicality that makes the writer think hard about the perfect word choices.

 For example, ere’s an example of a cinquain poem, “November Night” by Adelaide Crapsey:


With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees

And fall.


Ghazals are Arabic poems that started in the seventh century. They are short songs that contain five or more couplets, and not more than fifteen.

A couplet contains two lines with the same rhyme scheme and meter.

However, when ghazals are translated into English, they usually lose their rhyme patterns and meters.

The radif, also known as the refrain, is a repeated word or phrase that sometimes changes the rhyme. It appears at the end of both lines in the first couplet. You also find it in the second line of the couplets.

Whenever you write a refrain, the next words following should rhyme, like in the following example of knot, bought, and taught.

The last couplet includes a signature of the poem’s author. 

 Generally, ghazals show the sorrow of loss and separation from a loved one, as well as romantic and spiritual love.

 Lyric Poetry

 Lyric poetry is one that shows sentiments and emotions.

The poem is song-like, concise, and deeply emotional.

It can be written either free-form or rhymed.

Lyric poetry is in the form of epic and narrative poetry; it focuses on feelings rather than narratives.

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 Prose Poetry

 Just as the name suggests, prose poetry combines prose writing and poetry.

It uses poetic theories such as meter, alliteration, repetition, rhyme, and rhythm. Avoid this jargon, prose poetry just consists of a standard paragraph of prose with conventional punctuation and no line breaks.

For you to be able to identify prose poetry, you need a combination of the elements we have mentioned above, and they must be used.

 Concrete poetry

 Concrete poetry uses specific shapes or an established form to express the poem’s meaning.  

This poem emphasizes specific topics through layout and spacing. Sometimes the poems take the form of their themes.

For instance, a poem about the moon can have a unique crescent shape.


 Epitaphs is a shorter version of elegies. 

They are also very humorous and are used in cemeteries.

This is another type of poem that works best for people who feel confined by other poems that have many rules since there are few restrictions on rhyme schemes, etc.  

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Epitaph is a beautiful illustration. 

Other Types of Poems

Decreasing Verse

 Decreasing verse is a type of poem with an unknown beginning.

The main rule to write a decreasing verse poem is to repeat the previous line after removing the initial letter from the end word.

For example, imagine the word blink appears at the end of the first line, link will be on the second, and ink on the third.

Though decreasing verse poems are generally written in tercets, there are no other hard and fast rules.

 List Poems

 List poems are made up of lists of things.

The final line summarizes the entire poem. It is either humorous or forceful and does not follow any strict rules.

Echo Poetry

Echo poetry repeats the final syllable of each line.

This final syllable can be repeated at the end of the same line or put just under it on its own line.

There are no rules for this type of poem except repetition.

FAQS on types of poetry

What are the most popular types of poems?

The most popular types of poetry are haiku, free verse, odes, and limericks.

What are the 5 genres of poetry?

Poetic genres include satirical poetry, elegy, aubade, pastoral poetry, epic poetry, and lyric poetry.


There are many types of poems that can fit every poet, their writing style, and mood.

We hope this guide has explained some poem types and exposed you to new forms.

Explore and explore!