A Glossary of Poetic Terms

Poetry is one of the most ancient forms of writing. It dates back to the most ancient societies on record. Poetry is an art form that allows the writer to express thoughts, desires, and observations. It comes in many different forms, from rhyming to free-verse, from lyrical to uneven. The most celebrated poets, like Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes, differ widely in their style of poetry. Poetry is an ever-expanding genre that is only defined by its ability to convey a message to an audience, as succinctly as possible. Some poets choose to write in a particular form, as a means of discipline or preference. Here are the most popular types of poetry.
Acrostic - Also known as Serana, this form features a first letter at the beginning of each line that spells out a message.
Ballad - This type of poetry tells a story. It's made up of stanzas, or blocks of text, of seven, eight, or ten lines each. Ballads feature a line that is repeated throughout the poetry. This is known as a refrain. It is often accompanied by music.
Cinquain - A poem consisting of five lines. The first line is one word, the second line is two words that describe the first line. The third line contains three words that describes an action. The fourth line has four words, and describes feeling. The fifth line has one word that repeats the first line.
Dramatic Poetry - Drama that's written in poetic form. It's the type of poetry that William Shakespeare used in most of his plays.
Elegy - A somber poem that talks about a deceased person. It is usually written for a funeral.
Epic - Similar to a ballad, but it usually tells the story of a specific hero. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are
Ghazal - A form of poetry that features a collection of couplets (or two lines). The couplets are not necessarily related to each other, but traditionally, Ghazals are rhymed.
Haiku - A small, Japanese poem consisting of three lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second line contains seven syllables, and the third line contains five syllables. It usually describes nature.
Iambic Pentameter - A type of metered poem that features a series of short and long syllables. It's the most complicated poetry type, and not often used by modern poets.
Limerick - A funny, but often vulgar, poem written in five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines have between seven to ten syllables, and rhyme with each other. The third and fourth lines have between five to seven syllables and rhyme with each other.
Ode - A poem dedicated to the memory of an individual or an object. Traditionally, odes are structured forms, but modern poets have written free-form odes.
Rhyme - This type of poem features similar sounding end words. It is considered traditional, as most modern poets prefer freedom in expression.
Sestina - A very restrictive form of poetry that contains six six-line stanzas and one three-line stanza. Poets must follow a certain pattern of end words, repeating six words in a specific formation throughout the poem.
Sonnet - A poem with fourteen lines set to a rhyme. This is one of the most popular poetry forms.
Villanelle - This type contains nineteen lines with five three-line stanzas and one four-line stanza. It usually features two rhyming words.

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