How To Write Poetry

15 Common Poetry Forms - Examples, PDF Templates

Poetry is a genre that has a lot of variation. Some forms of poetry are extremely structured, following a certain rhyme scheme and syllable count, while others allow more creative freedom.

Common Poetic Forms

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Poetry comes in a variety of forms. Some forms have more structure than others. Some follow rules that have to do with rhyming, syllables, repetition, etc. Others are an expression that are fully in the hands of the author.


Explore these common forms, and give them a try.

ABC Poem

In an ABC poem, each line of the poem begins with a letter in the alphabet, starting with A and moving in order through Z.

Examples of ABC poems:

Poem About A Friend

Accepts you as you are
Believes in you
Calls you just to say Hi
Doesn't give up on you.
Envisions the whole of you even the unfinished parts.
Forgives your mistakes
Gives unconditionally
Helps you
Invites you over
Just be with you
Keeps you close at Heart
Loves you for who you are
Makes a difference in your life
Never Judges
Offers Support
Picks you up
Quiets your fears
Raises your spirits.
Says nice things about you
Tells you the truth when you need to hear it
Understands You
Values You.
Walks beside you
Explains things you don't understand
Yells when you won't listen and
Zaps you back to reality.

Read More ABC Poems


General Templates of ABC Poem (PDF):

Acrostic

Acrostic is a form of poetry where the first or last letters of each line create a name, word, or phrase.

You can find these words by looking vertically at the beginning or end of the lines.

Examples of Acrostic poems:

A Family

F- fiercely loyal to those we love.
A- accepting each for who and what they are.
M- matchless in our hopes and dreams for one another.
I- instilling pride in our hard fought heritage.
L- learning about our past guides us in the future.
Y- you love and cherish the people of your heart.

Read More Acrostic Poems


Bio Poem

A bio poem is used to reveal information to the reader about the poet.


Line 1: First name

Line 2: Who is... (descriptive words that describe you)

Line 3: Who is the brother/sister or son/daughter of...

Line 4: Who loves...(three ideas)

Line 5: Who feels...(three ideas)

Line 6: Who needs...(three ideas)

Line 7: Who gives...(three ideas)

Line 8: Who fears...(three ideas)

Line 9: Who would like to see...(three ideas)

Line 10: Who shares...(three ideas)

Line 11: Who is...(three ideas)

Line 12: Who is a resident of...(your town)

Line 13: Last name


Example of a Bio poem:


Tynea
Who is creative, loyal, and quiet.
Who is the sister of Travis.
Who loves writing, fall, and a good book.
Who feels excitement, anticipation, and joy.
Who needs quiet, sleep, and love.
Who fears crocodiles, losing loved ones, and knives.
Who would like to see miracles, more sunrises, and Ireland.
Who shares laughs, hugs, and advice.
Who is a writer, mother, and friend.
Who is a resident of Pennsylvania.
Lewis

Bio Poem Template (PDF)


Cinquain

A cinquain is a 5 line poem that follows a specific format. There are various types of cinquains. Some are created with a number of words or syllables in mind. Another form is created using various parts of speech.


Words:

Line 1- 1 word

Line 2- 2 words

Line 3- 3 words

Line 4- 4 words

Line 5- 1 word


Examples of cinquains based on word count:

Sun by Tynea Lewis

Sun
Bright, large
A faraway star
Gives us light daily
Hot

Poems Don't Have to Rhyme


Syllables:

Line 1-2 syllables

Line 2- 4 syllables

Line 3- 6 syllables

Line 4- 8 syllables

Line 5- 2 syllables


Examples of cinquains based on syllable count:


Morning by Tynea Lewis

Restless
Waiting for light
Darkness covers the earth
Until sun crests over the hill
Morning

Eucalyptus Tree House


Parts of Speech:

Line 1- noun

Line 2- 2 adjectives

Line 3- 3 -ing words

Line 4- a phrase

Line 5- another word for the noun from line 1


Example of a cinquain based on parts of speech:

Car by Tynea Lewis

Car
Fast, yellow
Speeding, swerving, moving
Carrying teenagers away
Transportation

General Templates for Cinquains (PDF):

Concrete


A concrete poem is written in a way that the words create the shape of the subject of the poem.


Examples of Concrete Poems:

A View Of A Cat

                                          I
                               sleep      on
                             your bed, making
                             it my own, and
                              and when you are
                                away, I'm at home
                                all alone. I walk
                             around the food
                          bowl, sniffing out
                        what's there, and  if
                      there's nothing good, I
                    I look at you and stare. I
                  curl up near the fire place
                warming up my paws, I
               pounce upon the scratch
              post, sharpening my claws.
              I see a mouse in front
              staring straight at me, I
               run and try to catch it
                but it runs away from
                  thee. You see I am so
                    cute, so gorgeous with my
                         fur, when
                          you
                           stroke
                               my
                             head
                               I
                           close my
                         eyes
                 and purr.

Diamante


A diamante poem is a 7 line poem that looks like a diamond. It does not have to rhyme.


It can be used to describe 1 topic or 2 opposite topics.


Line 1: 1 word (subject/noun)

Line 2: 2 adjectives that describe line 1

Line 3: 3 -ing words that relate to line 1

Line 4: 4 nouns (first 2 relate to line 1, last 2 relate to line 7--if you're writing about opposite topics)

Line 5: 3 -ing words that relate to line 7

Line 6: 2 adjectives that describe line 7

Line 7: 1 word (subject/noun)


Examples of Diamante Poems:

Noise by Divine Tan

                 Noise
          Loud, Boisterous
Deafening, Earsplitting, Piercing
Clamor, Sound ..... Hush, Quiet
   Soothing, Calming, Consoling
          Peace, Tranquility
               Silence

Loyalty Betrayal (Diamante)


General Templates for Diamante Poems

Synonym Diamante (PDF)

Antonym Diamante-color coded (PDF)


Emotion Poem


An emotion poem is used to describe various emotions, good or bad, using descriptive language.

There are a couple different emotion poem formats to follow, and you could always come up with your own.


Line 1: State the emotion

Line 2: Describe the emotion as a color

Line 3: It happens when...

Line 4: It sounds like...

Line 5: And smells like...

Line 6: Restate the emotion


Example of an Emotion poem:

Anger by Tynea Lewis

Anger
Is the color of lava spilling from a volcano.
It happens when a vase shatters into slivers on the floor.
It sounds like a car screeching to a halt
And smells like burning toast.
Anger

Line 1: State the emotion

Line 2: It smells like...

Line 3: It tastes like...

Line 4: It sounds like...

Line 5: It feels like...

Line 6: It looks like...

Line 7: (Emotion) is...


Example of an emotion poem:

Love by Tynea Lewis

Love
It smells like a deep red rose opening in the sun.
It tastes like delectable chocolate melting in your mouth.
It sounds like the birds chirping on a clear spring morning.
It feels like a fire on a cold winter's night.
It looks like an ocean scene painted by God.
Love is unpredictable and breathtaking.

Try writing an emotion poem yourself:


Free Verse


Free verse poems do not follow any rules. Their creation is completely in the hands of the author.

Rhyming, syllable count, punctuation, number of lines, number of stanzas, and line formation can be done however the author wants in order to convey the idea.

There is no right or wrong way to create these poems.


Examples of Free Verse Poems:

Dreaming On Paper

I don't talk.
My lips part and air pushes out,
but the sound must not fit,
because my thoughts are so big.

So I don't try to talk.
My thoughts must be too good for
words, for the air, for my lips.

But they are just right for paper.
My thoughts flow on paper.
They are just big enough.

So I don't talk;
I compose,
I write,
I dream.

Read More Free Verse Poems

Haiku


This is a form of Japanese poetry that follows a specific syllable pattern.

It's made up of 3 lines, consisting of 17 syllables in total. Haikus are usually about a specific part of nature.


Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables

Examples of Haiku

Spring

Water runs down stream.
Fish swimming with the current.
Life moving along.

Read More Haiku

Try writing a haiku yourself:

Haiku Template (PDF)


Limerick


A limerick is a short, humorous poem that follows a determined rhyme scheme of AABBA.

This five line poem also follows a syllable count.


Line 1: 7-10 syllables

Line 2: 7-10 syllables

Line 3: 5-7 syllables

Line 4: 5-7 syllables

Line 5: 7-10 syllables


Examples of Limericks:

A Wonderful Bird Is The Pelican

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the helican!

Read More Limericks

Try writing a limerick yourself:

Limerick Template (PDF)


Narrative


A narrative poem tells the story of an event in the form of a poem.


Examples of Narrative Poems:

The Man He Killed

Had he and I but met
    By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
    Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,
    And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
    And killed him in his place.

I shot him dead because--
    Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
    That's clear enough; although

He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
    Off-hand like--just as I--
Was out of work--had sold his traps--
    No other reason why.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!
    You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
    Or help to half a crown.

Read More Narrative Poems

Pantoum


A pantoum is a poem that uses a lot of repetition. To create this poem, follow these steps.

  1. Write a quatrain (4 line stanza). Writing emotional lines usually works best.
  2. Take lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza and make them lines 1 and 3 of the second stanza.
  3. Take lines 2 and 4 of the second stanza and make them lines 1 and 3 of the third stanza.
  4. Continue your poem using this pattern.
  5. For your last stanza, go back to the first stanza of the poem. Make line 3 of the first stanza line 2 of your last. Make line 1 of the first stanza line 4 in your last.

Example of pantoum:

Her Smile

Her smile was visible to all,
Showing a dark secret
From an inescapable memory
Because of the lie she kept telling herself.

Showing a dark secret,
The light was dimming
Because of the lie she kept telling herself.
She tried to push the pain aside.

The light was dimming
From an inescapable memory
She tried to push the pain aside.
Her smile was visible to all.

Try writing a pantoum yourself:

Pantoum Template (PDF)

Sonnet

A sonnet is a 14 line poem with a specific rhyme scheme. Each type of sonnet follows a different rhyming scheme.


English (Shakespearean) Sonnet

  • 14 line poem
  • 3 quatrains (4 line stanzas) followed by 1 couplet (2 line stanza)
  • Rhyming scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

Examples of English (Shakespearean) Sonnet:

All We Will Be By Tynea Lewis

He sits, paying no attention to me.
I wonder what is going through his head.
It hurts knowing friends is all we will be.
His unexpected glace turns my face red.

His mud brown eyes are so piercing and deep.
Then a smile fills his flawless, tanned face.
If only into his heart I could creep.
The slow motion moment makes my heart race.

Our time together is a dream come true
But I fear he can see into my heart.
When I am with him, I don't feel so blue,
But something new won't be able to start.

Since nothing will be, onward I must go.
These feelings I have to hide and not show.

Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet

  • 14 line poem
  • 1 octave (8 line stanza) followed by 1 sestet (6 line stanza)
  • Rhyming scheme of ABBAABBA CDCCDC (or CDECDE)

Example of Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet:

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent By John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Spenserian Sonnet

  • 14 line poem
  • 3 quatrains followed by 1 couplet
  • Rhyming scheme of ABAB BCBC CDCD EE

Example of Spenserian Sonnet:

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599)

What guile is this, that those her golden tresses
She doth attire under a net of gold;
And with sly skill so cunningly them dresses,
That which is gold or hair, may scarce be told?
Is it that men's frail eyes, which gaze too bold,
She may entangle in that golden snare;
And being caught may craftily enfold
Their weaker hearts, which are not yet well aware?
Take heed therefore, mine eyes, how ye do stare
Henceforth too rashly on that guileful net,
In which if ever ye entrapped are,
Out of her bands ye by no means shall get.
Folly it were for any being free,
To covet fetters, though they golden be.

General Templates for Sonnets (PDF):

Tanka

A tanka is another Japanese form of poetry that follows a syllable format.

This poem is composed of 5 lines. 

Lines 1 and 3 have 5 syllables.   

Lines 2, 4, and 5 contain 7 syllables each. 


Line 1- 5 syllables

Line 2- 7 syllables

Line 3- 5 syllables

Line 4- 7 syllables

Line 5- 7 syllables


Tanka examples:

Journey of a Dewdrop By Paul Holmes

One diamond dewdrop
Sparkles in morning sunlight
Then, slowly drips down
A dandelion's green stem
Nourishing its thirsty roots.

Autumn's Snowflakes


Try writing a tanka yourself:

Tanka Template (PDF)


Villanelle


  • 5 tercets (3 line stanzas) with ABA rhyme scheme
  • Followed by 1 quatrain (4 line stanza) with ABAA rhyme scheme
  • The first and third lines of the tercet are alternately repeated as the last lines of the remaining stanzas.

Villanelle Examples:

The End By Tynea Lewis

No one told me about this pain.
Everything hurts, even my pride.
It's these emotions I am forced to contain.
Tears have fallen from my eyes like a steady rain.
Nothing can take back those nights I've cried.
No one told me about this pain.
My feelings I cannot even explain.
To you, my heart was open wide.
Now it's these emotions I have to contain.
I'm at the point where I feel nothing but shame
Because I thought you were going to be my guide.
If only I was warned about this pain.
With you is where I wanted to remain.
Now I have to continue on with a long stride,
But these emotions I am forced to contain.
Please tell me our relationship was not in vain.
I hope to not regret having tried.
No one told me about this pain.
It's these emotions I am forced to contain.

Try writing a villanelle yourself:

Villanelle Template (PDF)

Resources On The Web


Need help thinking of rhyming words or counting the syllables in words?

more by Tynea Lewis

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