Do you know the difference between a limerick and a lyric? Can you tell your odes from your octaves? If you are not quite sure which poetic form is which, you are in luck! In honor of National Poetry Month, we’re shedding the spotlight on a few of the most popular poetic forms- read on to learn more about them!
1.) Couplet. A couplet, while a poetic form in and of itself, is also often a component used in creating other, longer forms. Couplets are a relatively simple form in terms of the rules they must follow: a couplet is comprised of two lines of approximately the same length; these lines rhyme and, together, form a single grammatical unit (i.e., a complete sentence).
2.) Elegy. Elegies are a traditional poetic form with a very specific subject matter: the passing of a loved one. The elegy is used to express the speaker’s mourning for a lost loved one, but it typically ends on a note of acceptance or consolation.
3.) Ghazal. The ghazal (rhymes with “muzzle”) is an Arabic form that was very popular amongst Persian poets in the medieval period. The ghazal is a form with some very specific rules: it is comprised of couplets that have to be independent units on their own; each couplet has to end using the same word; the last line of the ghazal includes a proper name, most often that of the poet his or herself.
4.) Occasional. The occasional poem’s purpose is in the name: it is poem used to discuss a specific event. Many historical occasional poems commemorate battles or coronations, for example. As a poetic form, the occasional poem can share formal elements with other types of poems, such as odes or elegies.
5.) Prose poem. The prose poem is a bit of a “poem in disguise.” Differentiating between regular prose writing and a prose poem comes down to observing the way figurative language and imagery is used in a given piece; while it may not look like a typical poem, it will sound like one.
6.) Sonnet. The sonnet is perhaps one of the most famous poetic forms. Used by the likes of Shakespeare and Spenser, the sonnet is a poem comprised of fourteen lines. Depending on the type of sonnet (Italian, English, etc.), there are a few different schemes the sonnet could follow.
To celebrate National Poetry Month, try writing a poem in one of the forms listed above. If you like what you write, consider submitting it to our poetry contest and show your work to the world!