What Is The Elements Of Poetry

The Nature of a Poem

Poetry is a unique form of art, a traditional amalgamation of language and rhythm that expresses emotion in ways no other medium can. A poem expresses a writer’s innermost thoughts, drawing on the deepest and most resonant elements of personal experience and reflection. Unlike other forms of writing, it fuses imagery and emotion, giving both a special texture and subtle nuances that together lead to understanding.
Poetry as an art form has many elements, some tangible and some intangible. In diverse forms and styles, these elements weave to create the tapestry of a poem.


At the outset, the structure of a poem serves as one of the key identifying features that differentiate it from other forms of written expression. Structural elements such as meter, verse form, and stanza, create the basic foundation for a poem.
Meter is defined as the steady beat of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem. Poets often draw inspiration from existing meter patterns, such as iambic pentameter, that have been used for centuries. This pattern of meter gives poesy a delightful rhythm when spoken by the poet.
The verse form of a poem evolves from the meter. While the meter of a poem defines the general rhythm and emphasizes specific syllables, a poem’s verse form involves the coupling of certain elements, such as number of feet per line, the type of rhyme and the number of lines per stanza. Together, meter and verse form create the basis upon which a poem is composed.
The stanza, or the division of a poem into groups of lines, is yet another structural element of a poem. It is essential to remember that a stanza does not necessarily need to be limited to a single line of verse form. It can be verses of varying length, jumbled together in a diversity of methods, depending upon the purpose of the poet.


A poem is further identified by its imagery, namely the use of words to paint images in the reader’s mind that hold special meaning to the poet. Imagery forms the primary element of a poem’s larger thematic context, defining the substance that makes a poem unique.
From Similes and Metaphors, to Personification and Alliteration, poets use imaginative language to convey the experience commonplace to their own lives. Through vivid imagery and thought provoking words, poets use their unique voice to express their unique message.

Explicit Meaning

Explicit meaning is defined as the concrete particulars of a poem’s lyrical articulation. It is the spine of a poem, connecting the poets’ innermost thoughts, emotions and experiences to the external linguistic vessel that carries this information to the reader.
A poem is as much a story as it is a form of expression. It serves as an artist’s etching of the developing reality that plays out through their life. Yet, where narrative writing is linear in its progressions, a poem intermingles reality with imagination, created at episodic moments of inspiration. A poem authoritatively communicates the reality of a writer’s reality while exploring the hidden nuances within it.

Underlying Meaning

The more subtle elements of a poem are known as its underlying meaning. This implied sentiment is not necessarily in direct contention with the poem’s explicit meaning but acts as a vehicle for the poet to seek out multiple interpretations.
Underlying meaning is often the most challenging element of poetry for the reader. It requires an acute level of discernment that draws on both the reader’s personal experience and their general knowledge of literature. It often gives a poem its hidden power, which isn’t defined by a particular act but by a combination of subtle reflections and subliminal connections.


Poetry as an art form is usually identified by its rhythmic qualities. While meter and verse form create a baseline of uniformity, rhythm is the emphasis of a poem’s variance. It exists in all forms of poetry, regardless of era or author.
Rhythm lends value to a poem because it adds another layer of expression — one that does not rely on language alone. Where a person’s spoken words may contain hidden subtleties, a poem’s rhythm gives them a new voice. It enhances the poetic experience by adding another dimension, one that ties in perfectly to the overall sentiment of the poem.


An definitive feature of poetry is its potential to evoke emotion in readers. Feelings are conveyed through the overall theme of a poem, as well as the individual elements that support its message.
When reading a poem, it is essential to not only comprehend the writer’s expressed thoughts but also to identify with the feelings being conveyed. In essence, a poem will not only reveal the writer’s innermost feelings, but also elicit a reaction from readers.
This reaction may range from joy to excitement to sadness and sorrow. Those that truly understand the meaning of the poem are able to connect to the expressed emotion on a deeper level.

Connecting with the Poet

Poems provide an emotional interface between the poet and reader. Poets base their work around their personal life, thoughts and experiences, forming a unique and distinctive expression.
When readers are able to connect with and relate to this experience, a special connection is formed. This connection is nourished by the poet’s personal narrative, imagery and thematic substance, which resonates deep within the reader’s fragile emotional core.
The writer’s connection to the reader serves to further reinforce the feelings that the poem seeks out to convey. Through the marriage of poetry, readers truly understand the poet’s journey with compassion and empathy.

Creative Expression

Creative expressions, while subjective in its definition, is an essential element of a poem that helps define its place in a collections of written works. Poetry is an artist’s intimate expression of their innermost thoughts.
From traditional biblical works and ancient Chinese ballads, to modernized lyrical expression, a poet’s expression can define the theme and sentiment of a piece. Creative expressions allow poets to give attention to details, creating small nuances that further define the overall emotion behind the poem.
The creative expression of a poet further extends beyond the written lines of the actual poem. Poets will often explore the story behind the story, providing context to their language and words, that help draw an even deeper connection to readers.

Final Thoughts

As a form of expression, poetry speaks to us in ways that no other form of expression can. It fuses together language like and emotion like colors on a painting, providing a unique platform for writers to explore their innermost feelings with the world.
Through the elements of structure, imagery, explicit and underlying meaning, rhythm, feelings and creative expression, a poem finds its voice, providing authors and readers alike a special venue to explore their intellectual, spiritual and emotional selves.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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