How Many Types Of Poetry Are There

Poetry is one of the oldest and most powerful of all literary forms. It is an art form that has been used to express emotions, ideas, and stories for centuries. But how many types of poetry are there?

The answer is complicated, as poetry can be broken down into many different categories that have different rules and conventions. Some of the most popular types of poetry include traditional forms such as sonnets and haikus, free verse, ballads, odes, lyrics and spoken word. Each type of poetry has its own unique characteristics and approach to writing.

Traditional forms such as sonnets and haikus have specific rhyme schemes and particular patterns of syllables per line, whereas free verse is less structured and has no specific rhythm or rhyme scheme. Ballads are narrative poems, usually written in a simple, lyrical style with a refrain. Odes are typically written as a tribute or eulogy to someone or something, and lyrics are songs written as poetic works that convey certain emotions and messages. Finally, spoken word is poetry that is designed to be spoken, rather than read, and often includes slang, colloquialisms and creative wordplay.

Experts agree that poetry is an ever-evolving form of literature. In recent years, many new types of poetry have emerged, including Slam Poetry, which is competitively performed, and Social Media Poetry, which is written specifically for platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. There are also more abstract forms such as Conceptual Poetry, a type of poetry that uses both language and visual elements to convey its message.

In terms of its definition, poetry has been described as “the use of language to express ideas and feelings in an imaginative, emotional and sometimes unexpected way.” In this sense, it can be said that any type of writing that does this can be considered a form of poetry.

The best way to understand the different types of poetry is to explore examples of each one. By reading a variety of classic and contemporary poems across different genres, you can begin to understand the unique conventions and qualities of each type of poetry.


Limericks are humorous five-line witty poems with a distinct rhythm and rhyme pattern. They first appeared in published form in the early 19th century and are often used to poke fun at people or situations. For example, Edward Lear’s classic poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” is an example of a limerick poem.

The rhythm and rhyme scheme of limericks is quite simple – the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other and have three beats, or stresses per line. The third and fourth lines rhyme with each other and have two beats per line. Additionally, the word order in the lines is quite specific and the poem should have a witty twist at the end.

Epic Poems

Epic poems are narrative poems that tell stories of heroic characters on grand adventures. These poems are often steeped in poetic tradition and have a heavy reliance on mythology and folklore. Examples of epic poems include Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the ancient Indian poem Mahabharata and the Old English Beowulf.

Epic poems follow a specific structure and are typically quite lengthy. They usually start with an invocation, or a prayer to a God, before beginning the main story. Additionally, epic poems usually contain characters and objects in the third person, and the stories typically revolve around conflicts such as wars, political upheaval and family feuds.

Romantic Poems

Romantic poetry, also sometimes referred to as love poetry, is a genre of poetry that focuses on passions, emotions and sentiments. This type of poetry was popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries and often involves the intense expression of longing for the lover. Famous examples of romantic poetry include William Wordsworth’s “To the Deep” and John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”.

Unlike some other types of poetry, romantic poetry is not bound by any specific rules and can range from the traditional to the experimental. The main focus of this type of poetry is to portray the feelings and emotions of the poet, so it is often written in the first person and includes vivid imagery and figurative language.

Haiku Poems

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that has become increasingly popular in the Western world over the last few decades. Haiku poems usually consist of three lines with a 5-7-5 syllable count and an overarching theme of nature. Famous haiku poems include Matsuo Basho’s famous “TheOld Pond”:

The old pond
A frog jumps in
The sound of water

The haiku form is considered one of the most difficult and restrictive forms of poetry, as its structure and syllable count must be adhered to, and it should also evoke emotions and a sense of oneness with nature, as is typical of Eastern philosophy.

Concrete Poems

Concrete poems, also sometimes referred to as shape poems, are poems whose visual presentation is an integral part of its meaning. This type of poetry emerged in the early 20th century and is often seen as a combination of visual art and poetry. Famous examples of concrete poems include Ernst Jandl’s “Frischzelle” and Carl Sandburg’s “Fog”.

Concrete poems often contain words and phrases that are arranged in such a way that they create a visual representation of their theme. It is also common for the words to echo the repeating shapes of the poem’s design, or for the poem to take on different shapes as it progresses.

Spoken Word Poems

Spoken word poetry is a form of performance poetry that is composed specifically for oration. This type of poetry has become increasingly popular in recent years and has grown in popularity due to its origins in rap and hip hop culture. Famous spoken word poems include Sarah Kay’s “The Type” and Shane Koyczan’s “To This Day”.

Spoken word poetry typically follows a simple structure and should be emotive, thought-provoking and engaging. It often uses rhyme, repetition and pauses for dramatic effect, as well as using slang and colloquial forms of language. Additionally, spoken word pieces usually focus on personally resonant topics and evoke strong emotions from their listeners.

Free Verse Poems

Free verse is a type of poetry that follows no particular structure or pattern. Unlike other forms of poetry, free verse does not have a specific rhyme scheme or meter and often includes diction that is more natural and colloquial. Famous examples of free verse poems include Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.

Free verse poems often contain seemingly random lines that are meant to evoke emotions and feelings. These lines should have some sort of musicality, even if they do not follow any traditional patterns of rhyme and meter. Additionally, free verse poems should still be structured and fluid, meaning that one line should flow naturally into the next with a clear meaning or theme.

Lyrical Poems

Lyrical poems are poems that are similar in form to songs or music. This type of poem often uses metaphors, imagery and other poetic devices to convey emotion and create an atmosphere that is either serene or intense. Famous lyrical poems include William Butler Yeats’ “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and Plato’s “Symposium”.

Lyrical poems should be easy to listen to and can often be read aloud as if they were songs. The meter and rhythm are important elements in this type of poem and should be taken into consideration when writing. Additionally, lyrical poems should also focus on a particular theme or idea and should have a clear and succinct message.

Narrative Poems

Narrative poems are poems that tell stories, usually with a beginning, middle, and end. This type of poem is typically written in the third person and can include characters, dialogues and plot points. Famous narrative poems include the Old English epic poem Beowulf, Alfred Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” and Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”.

Narrative poems usually have a particular tone and pace, which should be established early on to give the story its structure. Additionally, the language and diction should be consistent throughout the poem and evoke the emotions of the characters. This type of poetry is also often quite lengthy and should contain multiple plot points that demonstrate a clear arc of the story.

Minnie Walters is a passionate writer and lover of poetry. She has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the work of famous poets such as William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and many more. She hopes you will also fall in love with poetry!

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