15 Types of Short Poems and How to Write Them With Examples

Great poetry can be of any length; short poems can have just as much force and potency as long poems that wind over pages like highways.

While longer poems like epics and odes have their place, short poems also hold a special appeal for their brevity and impact.

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of short poetry, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll explore 15 different types of short poems, from the minimalist haiku to the lyrical ballad, and provide examples to help you understand each form. Whether you’re a seasoned poet or a beginner, this guide will help you master the art of writing short poems in no time. Let’s dive in!

How can poets fit so much meaning into a small amount of space? Let’s find out.

What Is A Poem?

Poetry is a broad literary category that covers a variety of writing, including bawdy limericks, unforgettable song lyrics, and even the sentimental couplets inside greeting cards. Some kinds of poetry have few rules, while others have a rigid structure. That can make poetry feel hard to define, but the variety is also what makes it enjoyable. Through poetry, writers can express themselves in ways they can’t always through prose.

A poem is mainly meant to arouse readers’ and listeners’ emotions. Rhyming systems, rhythmic patterns, and metaphorical language are often used in poems. 

What Are The Qualities of Short Poems?

Most effective short poems have a few characteristics in common that make them powerful literary works.

1. Concision

Every word in the poem should be making a significant contribution in addition to being eliminated. Only link tangible nouns and verbs with scant use of little words like articles, conjunctions, and adverbs.

2. Concreteness

Clear, distinct pictures should be presented in short poems. These tangible pictures will often serve as symbols, putting disparate abstract concepts in opposition to one another.

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3. Ephemerality

Short poems often capture ephemeral emotions—feelings that exist for a certain amount of time. Poetry in brief form offers glimpses of life: feelings captured in words.

4. Simplicity

An easy-to-understand poetry should be brief. Even if the concepts are abstract and open-ended, the language should be understandable to the reader and they should be apparent.

15 Types of Short Poems and How to Write Them With Examples

Here’s an outline of the 15 types of short poems and how to write them:

1. Acrostic poem

There are several ways to write an acrostic poem, but the basic concept is that each line’s first or second letter should combine to form a word.

  1. The first letters of each line spell out a word if read vertically downwards
  2. The first letter of each line and the last letter make a word


By Edgar Allan Poe

Elizabeth it is in vain you say

Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:

In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.

Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:

Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,

Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.

Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

To cure his love — was cured of all besides —

His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

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2. Rispetto Poem

With eleven syllables per line, Rispetto is a short poem form of Italian descent. It comprises eight lines. Ababiccdd is the rhyme system used by Rispetto. That being said, you are free to use other rhyming schemes.


The Coming of War: Actaeon

By Ezra Pound

An image of Lethe, and the fields

Full of faint light but golden,

Gray cliffs, and beneath them

A sea

Harsher than granite,

Unstill, never ceasing;

High forms

With the movement of gods.

This poem showcases Pound’s adaptation of the Rispetto form with 11-syllable lines and a reflective, evocative theme.

3. Cinquain Poem

The French word “cinq” means “five,” implying the characteristics of this kind of poetry. The cinquain is composed of five lines in one verse. Both the first and final lines include two syllables. You may make the next lines have an even number of syllables by adding two more at each line. Consequently, there are four syllables in the second line, six in the third, and eight in the fourth. How enjoyable is this?


The Falling Leaf

By Adelaide Crapsey

The falling leaf,

Is not more timid than,

That child of Eve;

His little face upraised

With questioning wonder gazes.

4. Haiku Poem

Haiku has its origins in Japan. Only three lines are present. The poem has seventeen syllables in total. Five syllables make up the opening and concluding lines. Seven are in the second line. Nature is often described in haiku.


Haiku by Basho Natsuo

An old silent pond…

A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

5. Horatian ode Poem

The lyrical style of a Latin poet by the name of Horace inspired the term “Horatian ode.” Short lyric poems of this kind often portray the subjects of friendship, love, and poetry depressingly and ironically. Each stanza has two or four lines, and rhyme is not required.


Excerpt from Soracte Ode a Poem by Horace Translated by John Dryden

To-morrow and her works defy,

Lay hold upon the present hour

And snatch the pleasures passing by

to put them out of fortune’s power

To-morrow and her works defy,

Nor love, nor love’s delights disdain;

Whate’er thou get’st to-day, is gain.

6. Limerick Poem

When performed correctly, the limerick is a beautiful-looking poem. This little poetry, which is just five lines long, is fantastic. Funny music and children’s songs go well with limericks. Limericks use the rhyming system abba. The limerick poem’s lines have a regular meter with one long syllable and two short ones.


The famous children’s song Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory, dickory, dock,

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one,

And down he run,

Hickory, dickory, dock.

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7. Naani Poem

India is where Naani poetry first appeared. It’s the poetry of the contemporary day. There are only four lines in it. There may be 20–25 syllables throughout the whole poem. There are no limitations to the poem’s topic.


A Naani poem by Bolimuntha venkata Ramana Rao

Nectation of pen

On the white paper


A poem

8. Nonet Poem

The nonet is a fantastic nine-line poem in which the syllables gradually decrease in length until the finish. There are nine syllables in the first line and one in the final.


Kicked from the Inside by Centfie

Amazing; you growing inside me

Adventures end others begin

Flutters and tummy movements

Responding to my touch

Kicked from the inside

Alive and kicking

You are a



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9. Ottava Rima Poetic Form

Ottava rima is a short Italian poetry form consisting of eight lines, each of which has eleven syllables. It was included into religious and theatrical tunes, as well as legends of brave acts. Many variants have emerged throughout time that use 10 syllables rather than 11. The Ottava rima may be composed into a lengthy poem by using this form in each stanza.

Excerpt from Orlando Furioso Canto 1 Poem by Ludovico Ariosto


Angelica, whom pressing danger frights,

Flies in disorder through the greenwood shade.

Rinaldo’s horse escapes: he, following, fights

Ferrau, the Spaniard, in a forest glade.

A second oath the haughty paynim plights,

And keeps it better than the first he made.

King Sacripant regains his long-lost treasure;

But good Rinaldo mars his promised pleasure.

10. Pantoum Poem

Malaysia is the birthplace of the pantoum poetry form. It is composed of quatrains, which are four-line stanzas. It follows a regular rhyme system and consists of many lines that are repeated. Abab is first, then bcbc, and so on. The next stanza’s first line is the second line. In the following stanza, the fourth line is the third line.

The poem’s first phrase is also the last line of its final quatrain. Although there is no maximum length for poems, pantoums are often brief because of the poet’s intense urge to compose the repeated phrases without breaking the flow.


Excerpt from the poem entitled Pantoum by John Ashbery

Eyes shining without mystery,

Footprints eager for the past

Through the vague snow of many clay pipes,

And what is in store?

Footprints eager for the past

The usual obtuse blanket.

And what is in store

For those dearest to the king?


Why the court, trapped in a silver storm, is dying

Some blunt pretense to safety we have

And that soon gotten over

For they must have motion.

Some blunt pretense to safety we have

Eyes shining without mystery,

For they must have motion

Through the vague snow of many clay pipes.

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11. Sonnet Poetic Form

Italy is where the Sonnet first appeared. It features iambic metres of five feet, a regular rhyme system, and fourteen lines. It is impossible to mention the word “Sonnet” without considering Shakespeare. Using the Sonnet poetry form in dramatic conversation that appears in most of his literary works, he made it his signature.


Sonnet Liii What is Your Substance, Whereof are You Made by William Shakespeare

What is your substance, whereof are you made,

That millions of strange shadows on you tend?

Since everyone hath, everyone, one shade,

And you, but one, can every shadow lend.

Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit

Is poorly imitated after you;

On Helen’s cheek all art of beauty set,

And you in Grecian tires are painted new.

Speak of the spring and foison of the year,

The one doth shadow of your beauty show,

The other as your bounty doth appear;

And you in every blessed shape we know.

In all external grace you have some part,

But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

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12. Spenserian Poetic Form

Edmund Spenser created the Spenserian while penning epics. One may read a Spenserian verse on its own. The rhyming pattern is ababbcbcc. The tale begins in the first eight lines and is concluded in the last line. Consider this example from Spenser.


Excerpt from The Faire Queen by Edmund Spenser

So pure an innocent, as that same lambe,

She was in life and every vertuous lore,

And by descent from Royall lynage came

Of ancient Kings and Queenes, that had of yore

Their scepters stretcht from East to Westerne shore,

And all the world in their subjection held;

Till that infernall feend with foule uprore

Forwasted all their land, and them expeld:

Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld.

13. Tanka Poetic Form

The Tanka is a common Japanese poetry with thirty-one syllables. In conventional formats, the poem’s five lines may be read as a single line. The distribution of the syllable count is 5/7/5/7/7. It’s fantastic for kid-friendly music.


Yearning for the Emperor Tenji by Princess Nukata

While, waiting for you,

My heart is filled with longing,

The autumn wind blows— 

As if it were you— 

Swaying the bamboo blinds of my door.

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14. Triolet Poetic Form

The triolet is a brief poetry form consisting of eight lines that rhyme repeatedly. This little poetry was written in France. In lines 4 and 7, the poet reiterates the opening sentence. Line 2 then corresponds to line 8. Because the last words of the first and second lines are repeated, it is simple to finish the rhyme scheme. These words must rhyme in the remaining lines.


How Great My Grief by Thomas Hardy

How great my grief, my joys how few,

Since first it was my fate to know thee!

Have the slow years not brought to view

How great my grief, my joys how few,

Nor memory shaped old times anew,

Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee

How great my grief, my joys how few,

Since first it was my fate to know thee?

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15. Villanelle Poems

The term “Villano,” which means “peasant,” is the source of the Italian poetry form known as the villanelle. Themes from the past included heroes, love, and obsessions.

Five tercets make up the opening fifteen lines of this 19-line poem. (A three-line poem, such as a haiku, is called a tercet.) Three lines make up the last stanza. It has rhymes and repeating lines. Until the last stanza, the first and third lines of the first tercet are repeated alternately. The rhyming system is thus abaabaabaabaabaabaaa. That a well-written villanelle is musical should come as no surprise.


If I Could Tell You by W.H. Auden

Time will say nothing but I told you so,

Time only knows the price we have to pay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,

If we should stumble when musicians play,

Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,

Because I love you more than I can say,

If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,

There must be reasons why the leaves decay;

Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,

The vision seriously intends to stay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,

And all the brooks and soldiers run away;

Will Time say nothing but I told you so?

If I could tell you I would let you know.

How To Write A Short Poem

Writing a poem isn’t the same as writing a short story, an essay, an email, or any other type of writing. While each of these other kinds of writing requires a unique approach, they all have one thing in common: they’re prose. And poetry isn’t prose.

Here are a few tips to help you get started and write your next poem:

Step 1: Understand what a poem is

Before you can write a simple poem, you must first understand what constitutes a poem. A poem is any collection or arrangement of words that expresses an emotion or concept in a more focused manner than regular speech or writing.

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Step 2: Consider the different types of short poetry

Do some study on poetry forms before deciding to compose your short poems in free verse. You may find that the triolet, cinquain, or haiku are more challenging than you expect, and having a structure to work with will encourage you to consider your word choice carefully.

Step 3: Decide what you want to write about

Unless you’ve been asked to compose a poem on a certain topic, the first step in creating a poem is deciding what to write about. Seek inspiration from nature, your community, current events, or the people in your life. Take notes on how various things make you feel and what they inspire you to think about.

Freewriting can help you find the appropriate theme for a poem. To begin freewriting, utilize a writing prompt or simply jot down a few words and let your mind guide your pen in a stream-of-consciousness approach.

Poetry is often written in verses rather than paragraphs. They may include entire or unfinished sentences and frequently have a rhythm. Keep in mind that poetry do not need to rhyme.

Step 4: Choose the best format for your poem

Your poetry does not have to follow a set format, but deciding on one and sticking to it may be the best option. By choosing a certain structure, such as a sonnet or a limerick, you limit your writing and drive yourself to find a way to artistically represent your theme while adhering to the format’s limits.

Step 5: Start Writing

Now it’s time to write! Whether you opt for using a pen and paper, typing on a laptop, or tapping on your phone, give yourself some uninterrupted time to focus on writing the poem. 

Don’t expect to write something perfect on the first try. Instead, focus on getting your words out.

Step 6: Describe that moment with concrete Imagery

Begin recording your observations immediately. What senses do you currently possess? You can describe your feelings in specific words without having to specify the time. Langston Hughes is most likely experiencing and trancribing his feelings through imagery when he refers to life without dreams as “a barren field / Frozen with snow” rather than actually witnessing that sight. Some short form poems juxtapose multiple images together, while others only have one major image. Write about your emotions without trying to be “poetic” or well-read. The poem will progress on its own.

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Step 7:  Explore words, rhymes, and rhythm

If you’ve decided to compose your poem in a certain format, read previous poems in that structure to offer yourself a template to work from. Using a specific rhythm or rhyme scheme helps emphasize themes and smart wordplay in your poetry.

For example, you might decide that a limerick is the best approach to make your readers laugh at your satirical poem because the style appears to have a built-in punchline.

Step 8: Edit the Poem

One of the best things you can do is put the first draft of your poem away for a day or two. Come back to it and see if you can make any improvements with a fresh pair of eyes. You may even want to get someone else to read and critique it. When you feel good about the poem, it’s done.


By exploring the different types of poems and following structured techniques, poets can create powerful, resonant pieces. Experiment with form, imagery, and literary devices to craft your impactful short poem.

FAQs on Short Poems

How can I start writing a short poem?

Begin by focusing on a specific moment or emotion. Use vivid, concrete imagery to describe this moment. Experiment with different short poem forms to find one that suits your style and helps convey your message succinctly.

What techniques can make a short poem impactful?

To make a short poem impactful, use concision, clear imagery, and emotional resonance. Employ literary devices like metaphors and similes to deepen the meaning. Ensure every word contributes significantly to the poem’s overall effect.

How do I choose the right form for my short poem?

Research various short poem forms and consider their rules and structures. Choose a form that aligns with your theme and the emotional tone you wish to convey. Experiment with different forms to see which one best expresses your ideas.

Can short poems be about any topic?

Yes, short poems can cover a wide range of topics. Whether reflecting on nature, personal experiences, or abstract concepts, the key is to distill the essence of the subject into a concise and powerful form that resonates emotionally with readers.


  • grammarly.com – 11 Types of Poetry to Know, With Examples

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