Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” ___ William Wordsworth

The origin of writing a poem starts from the feeling of the writer. It moves the writer so that s/he has no choice than put pen on paper. Poetry is beauty; it talks about the aesthetic disposition of the world, loved ones, etc. It uses many figurative devices, such as, rhythm, rhyme, meter, figure of speech, diction, imagery, etc., to enthuse powerful feelings. Poetry also uses few words to express what prose and drama will use long words for. Poetry is imaginative, what you see, hear, touch, move, smell and taste. It is figurative, not literal. It showers more emotions than other genres of literature. 

Types of Poems

  • Lullaby

Lullaby is a poem that is used to lure babies to sleep or to stop them from crying or being aggressive. It exists in traditional settings and it is mostly oral. It is soothing and peaceful to the ears of the babies. 

  • Ballad 

Ballad is a narrative poem meant to be sung. It tells a tale like epic poems and it is one of the oldest forms of poetry. It always has 13 verses. It is meant to be passed from one generation to another by word of mouth. It is either poetic or musical. Each line of a ballad has 14 syllables. The subject matters of ballads are: death, love, betrayal, trust, war, etc. 

  • Panegyric Poem

A panegyric poem is used to praise someone, sing his/her effusive praise. 

  • Ode 

Just like panegyric, ode is a lyrical poem elaborately stressed to praise a subject: an individual, event, object, nature. It simply means chant and sing the praise of a particular subject. It is not lengthy. Example: Ode to the Confederate Dead By Allen Tate. 

  • Dirge/Elegy

This is a hymn or song lamentation of the loss of a loved person. It is usually short and it is performed at the funeral of the deceased. Dirge is used to mourn the dead. It is noted that dirge and elegy have differences. Dirge is oral while elegy is written. Dirge is shorter and less meditative than elegy. It can also be called monody or jeremiad. Monody is a lamentation of a person while jeremiad is a list of woes to lament on. 

  • Pastoral Elegy 

Pastoral elegy is a poem on the lamentation, woes and tragedies of the rural people, especially the people who hold the values of religions, and monarchy, such as; shepherd, king, queens, and religion leaders etc. 

  • Pastoral Poem

Pastoral poem reveals the rural life of a group of people, particularly the rural lives of the shepherds. Pastoral is an adjective which is derived from ‘pastor’ which means shepherd. It reveals the simplicity, distinctiveness, serenity, composure and the natural disposition of people living in rural areas. 

  • Narrative Poem

Narrative poem tells a story in verse. It is like prose, but it is written in verse. It has a plot structure, characters, events and doings. It tells a tale about someone, the experiences s/he passes through, his or her exploits, casting downs, struggles, breakthroughs and the eventuality. There can be a long and short narrative poem. An example of a narrative poem is The Proud King by William Morris, the poem has 119 stanzas equal to 849 lines. 

  • Epic Poem

Epic poem is a long narrative poem about a hero revealing his heroic deeds and events which are significant to a particular group of people. It narrates the tales of struggles of a hero and his exploits. Epic is from the word ‘epos’ which means ‘story’. It reveals the qualities of a person, a hero, who has a lot of superhuman attributes or is supernatural. A good example of an epic poem is Beowulf, which has more than 3000 lines. 

  • Dramatic Poem

It is a poem written in verse and not meant to be acted on the stage. However, the verses are written like drama. And it has a form of conversation from the poetic personas or a monologue from the single persona. 

  • Prosaic Poem 

A prosaic poem comprises the elements of prose and poem. The poem has the lyrical and metrical elements of a poem and has the punctuation marks, indentation, paragraphing and other elements of a prose. It looks like prose. Nonetheless, a closer look see the poetic elements, such as; meter, figure of speech, rhyme, etc., in it. 

  • Limerick 

Limerick is a witty poem which has five lines. The rhyme scheme of a limerick is aabba. A limerick is humorous and rude.

  • Villanelle  

It is an organized poem which has five tercets and one quatrain. It has nineteen lines. 

  • Haiku

Haiku is a three line Japanese poem. The first and third lines of haiku have five syllables while the second line has seven syllables. The lines of haiku are not rhyming. They are used to express the aesthetics of nature and other natural phenomena. 

  • Metaphysical Poem 

The word metaphysical is from the word metaphysics which means beyond physical. Metaphysical poems highlight the arguments surrounding religions, and spirituality with wit and intelligence. It reveals the phenomena that are beyond physical. It uses much of paradox, irony, exaggeration and conceit to drive home his points and enables the readers or audience to make critical thinking about the unimaginable. Many poets in the sixteenth century were metaphysical poets. The most prominent of them is John Donne, who wrote The Good Morrow

  • Romantic Poem

Romantic poems are based on sentiments, emotions and imaginations. It showcases the effects of nature (positive and negatives). Any poem that is centred on death, sun, rain, weather, trees, love, hatred is romantic. It is a poem that reveals the effects of natural phenomena.  

  • Sonnet 

Sonnet is a poem that has fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter, five stressed syllables and five unstressed syllables. It is derived from the Italian word, sonetto, which means a little sound or song. The theme of sonnet centers on love, betrayal, hatred, affection, unrequited love. A sonnet has a regular rhyme scheme.

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. 

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed; 

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,

Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest 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. 

Forms of Sonnets 

Petrarchan Sonnet 

Petrarchan sonnet stemmed from Francesco Petrarch, an Italian poet, who wrote most of his poems to Laura, a married woman who never gave him any attention and barely knew that he existed. Petrarch was one of the first sonnet poets with da Lentini and others. Petrarchan sonnet is divided into two; octet/octave and sextet/sestet. An idea will be raised in the octet and it will be solved or resolved in the sextet. The octave has a regular rhyme scheme, which is; ABBAABBA  but the sextet has two rhythm schemes which can be CDCCDC or CDECDE.  

Shakespearean Sonnet 

Shakespearean Sonnet also known as Elizabethan sonnet or English sonnet is the simplest and commonest sonnet among all. It originated from the popular poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare who 154 sonnets. His sonnets have a compelling rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This means that his sonnets have three quatrains and a couplet.  

Spenserian Sonnet 

Spenserian Sonnet and Shakespearean sonnet are contemporaneous because their originators are contemporaries. Spenserian Sonnet stemmed from Edmund Spenser, an English poet. The only difference between the two sonnets is the rhyme schemes. Spenserian Sonnet  rhyme scheme: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE 

Miltonic Sonnet 

Miltonic sonnet is from John Milton, an English poet who witnessed Shakespeare last eight years on earth. He brought few changes to Shakespearean sonnets which are the theme, and at times, rhythm and length. The theme changes from materialism to internal struggle or conflict. 

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