What Are the Different Poetry Terms?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
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  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Poetry is a form of writing that is often figurative and sometimes written in verse with a rhyme scheme. Some poetry includes figurative language, which is a word or words that have alternate meanings besides the standard definition; verse, which is a line of poetry that may have a specific rhyme scheme or meter; and rhyme scheme, which is a pattern of rhyming words or sounds in a poem. These are three basic poetry terms to describe the form and function of poetry, though many other terms exist that define the complexity of the poetic form.

Poetry is often written in different types of verse, including free verse, blank verse, and rhymed verse. Rhyme schemes can vary as well: internal rhyme consists of sounds or words that rhyme within a line of poetry; end rhyme consists of sounds or words that rhyme at the end of each line. The rhyme scheme is the pattern by which the lines rhyme. A stanza, or section of a poem, may have a rhyme scheme like this:


Each letter represents a different sound. The sound in line 1 (A) will rhyme with the sound in line 3 (A), while the sound in line 2 (B) will rhyme with the sound in line 4 (B). The sound in line 5 will not rhyme with any of the other lines.


Other poetry terms may be used to describe the genre of poetry, or the general mood of the poem. Renaissance poetry, modern poetry, and post-modern poetry are all poetry terms that describe a certain style of writing that was common during a certain time period. The characteristics of the poems created during these individual time periods may have certain distinguishing features that would make identifying them as a certain genre much easier for the reader.

Poetry terms that describe the type of meter used in the poem are perhaps most common. Iambic pentameter is the best-known meter; this type of meter consists of five iambs. An iamb is a combination of an unstressed and stressed syllable. A line of iambic pentameter might read like this:

"Perhaps I will not leave this place today."

The first syllable of the word "perhaps," or "per--," is unstressed, then the latter part of the word, or "--haps," is stressed or spoken with more force than the first part of the word. Other types of meter exist, though iambic pentameter is one of the most common.


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Post 3

There are so many different terms of poetry, I had no idea it was so complicated.

I guess like anything it's actually as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

But it makes me think of learning poetry as more of a craft, rather than the simple art that I thought it was. That actually comforts me a little bit, because I've never thought of myself as particularly creative, but if I can follow a set of rules, I might be able to write a poem.

Post 2

@KoiwiGal - You've discovered yourself that some poets have a natural tendency to put rhythm into their work. If you have that natural tendency anyway, and you work hard at learning the stresses in each word until you know them off by heart, it would probably become much easier to write poems in strict meter.

With that said, that particular poetic term is not used all that often now because, while people enjoy reading good poetry set to meter, it is very very difficult to make it.

It often comes off as weird or trivial because people will choose the wrong word for the meaning in order to fit the scheme and that weakens the poem as a whole.

By all means try to write good, metered poems, but don't force your poetry or confine it within something that you don't need in order to make your poems beautiful.

Post 1

It took me a long time to figure out what meter actually was. It was strange because people often told me I used a meter in my poems, or that they had a "natural rhythm" to them and I adored Wordsworth's poems because they were so enjoyable to read aloud.

But it took me forever to realize that both those things were related to meter and that meter itself was related to the stress put on words.

It wasn't until I started learning a different language and realize what a difference it makes where you place the stress on words that it clicked in my head.

Even now I really have to play with a word to discover where the

stress is generally placed. If you say it with different stresses you can usually pinpoint where it sounds natural and where it doesn't.

I still haven't tried to write an entire poem with correct meter though as I know it would take a long long time. And that's just for meter. I can't believe people can write poems using meter and rhyme and make them meaningful. It really is an amazing talent.

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