Poetry Types: 7 different types of poetry with examples

girl writing poetry

There are many different types of poetry which poets use to express their feeling and tell their stories. In this creative writing lesson, we will discuss 7 different types of poetry with examples.

  1. Sonnet
  2. Shi
  3. Villanelle
  4. Tanka
  5. Haiku
  6. Ode
  7. Ghazal
Poetry
Poetry

1. Sonnet

Sonnet is one of the types of poetry which is a fourteen-line poem with a fixed rhyme scheme is known as a Sonnet; pronounced as son-it. The sonnet originated in Italy by the Italian poet Giacomo da Lentini during the 1200s and was introduced to England by Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard Earl of Surrey in the 16th century. The term sonnet which is derived from the old Occitan phrase “sonet” translates to a “little song” and hence it reflects a single sentiment or emotion, with a clarification or “turn” of thought in its concluding lines.

Sonnets usually use iambic pentameter, i.e., five sets of unstressed syllables followed by stressed syllables for a ten-syllable line. There are various types of sonnets available to choose from. Some of them are the Petrarchan sonnet and the Italian sonnet. The Italian sonnet is an English variation on the traditional Petrarchan version. Wyatt and Surrey developed the English (or Shakespearean) sonnet. These three kinds have given rise to many variations.

EXAMPLE: “Death be not proud.” —John Donne. “Death be not proud” is also known as sonnet X or Holy Sonnet 10. The poem is a direct address to death, arguing that it is powerless because it acts merely as a “short sleep” between earthly living and the eternal afterlife—in essence, death is nothing to fear. The sonnet was written mostly in iambic pentameter and is part of a series known as Donne’s “Holy Sonnets”. It is a beautiful poem with deep meaning.

2. Shi

Shi is a type of poetry and it is also a general term used for poetry in Chinese, the term can also be used for Chinese poetry other than lyrics or the classical form of poetry developed in the late Han dynasty and reached its zenith in the Tang dynasty. The rawest form of shi poetry is the Gushi which translates to “old poem” type. Gushi is the type which is influenced by Inner Asian types of music and poetry with a simple style in rhyming in couplets. Gushi poems don’t necessarily follow any rules regarding the placement of tones throughout the verse – except requirements of euphony.

EXAMPLE: Wang Changling “At a border fortress” II

Drink, my horse, while we cross the autumn water!- The stream is cold and the wind like a sword,

As we watch against the sunset on the sandy plain, Far, far away, shadowy Lingtao.

Old battles, waged by those long walls, Once were proud on all men’s tongues.

But antiquity now is a yellow dust, Confusing in the grasses its ruins and white bones.

3. Villanelle

Villanelle is a 19 line poem composed of five tercets and a quatrain. This type of poem has a highly specified internal rhyme scheme. Dylan Thomas has exemplified in his poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”  that how villanelles have developed to describe obsession and other powerful topics. The Villanelle is a remarkable form of poetry writing and is quite stricter as compared to a sonnet as it repeats rhymes and refrains. A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2, this is the pattern of villanelles; here the small letters or the lowercase alphabets denote rhymes and the uppercase or the capital letters denote refrains.

Dylan Thomas is an excellent author who has written extraordinary poems using the villanelle like in his poem “Do not go gentle into that good night,” here he is urging the readers to fight to survive in raging against the dying light.

4. Tanka

Tanka is a poem consisting of 31 syllables. Traditionally tanka is written in a single unbroken line. the term tanka stands for “short song” and it is a type of Japanese song or verse. tanka is better known for its 5 lines syllable count form: 5/7/5/7/7.

Majority of the Japanese poems from the 9th to the 19th are made up of the tanka and hence is possibly the central genre of Japanese literature.

Example:

“Lying on the dune sand

this day I recall

remotely

the anguish of my first love.”

This is a poem by Takuboku Ishikawa, an exceptional poet.

5. Haiku

Haiku are usually 3 lines per stanza kind of poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, i.e., the first line will have 5 syllables and the next one will have seven and the last line will consist of 5 syllables. haiku is a Japanese poem. It is the type of poetry that focuses on the beauty and simplicity of nature. With time additions were made into the syllable count and pattern but the topics of focus remained the same- the simplicity and beauty in everyday life.

Example:

  “How Many Gallons” by Issa

6. Ode

Ode is a type of poem which is more or less like an elegy, it is a praise, a tribute to its subject. ode is a short lyric poem. The subject can be either dead or alive, it doesn’t necessarily need to be dead. An ode is a type of poem which celebrates, praises or glories its theme or subject matter.

Example: John Keats ” To Autumn” or Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”.

7. Ghazal

Ghazal is Arabic poetry, verse form which enables the writer to express his intense emotions of loss and affection. A ghazal is usually composed of 5 to 15 couplets, independent but are linked through their themes and ideas and strictly in their poetic structure and form.

The structure of a ghazal is similar to that of the Petrarchan sonnet. In style and content, because of its highly elusive nature, the ghazal has proved competent with a surprising variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation.

Example: “gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-nau-bahaar chale”

-FAIZ AHMAD FAIZ

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