The Elements of Poetry

lyric
Subjective, reflective poetry with regular rhyme scheme and meter which reveals poet’s thoughts and feelings to create a single, unique impression.
Ex.
Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach”
William Blake, “The Lamb,” “The Tiger”
Emily Dickinson, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”
Langston Hughes, “Dream Deferred”
Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”
Walt Whitman, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”

narrative
Non-dramatic, objective verse with regular rhyme scheme and meter which relates a story or narrative.
Ex.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan”
T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi”
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses”

sonnet
A rigid 14-line verse form, with variable structure and rhyme scheme according to type:
A. Shakespearian (English) – three quatrains and concluding couplet in iambic pentameterm rhyming abab cdcd efef gg or abba cddc effe gg. The Spenserian sonnet is a specialized form with linking rhyme abab bcbc cdcd ee
-Robert Lowell, “Salem”
-William Shakespeare, “Shall I compar Thee?”
B. Petrarchian (Italian) – an octave and sestet, between which a break in thought occurs. The traditional rhyme scheme is abba abba cde cde (or -cdcdcd.)
-John Milton, “On His Blindness”
-John Donne, “Death, Be Not Proud”

ode
Elaborate lyric verse which deals seriously with a dignified theme.
-John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind”
William Wordsworth, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”

blank verse
Unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter
-Robert Frost, “Birches”
-John Milton, “Paradise Lost”
-Theodore Roethke, “I Knew a Woman”
-William Shakespeare, Macbeth
-Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”

free verse
Unrhymed lines without regular rhythm.
-Walt Whitman, “The Last Invocation”
-William Carlos Willaims, “Rain,” “The Dance”
-Richard Wilbur, “Juggler”

epic
A long, dignified narrative poem which gives the account of a hero imporant to his nation or race.
-Lord Byron, “Don Juan”
-John Milton, “Paradise Lost”
Homer, “The Illiad,” “The Odyssey”

dramatic monologue
A lyric poem in which the speaker addresses himself to persons around him; his speech deals with a dramatic moment in his life and manifests his character.
-Robert Browning, “My Last Duchess”
-T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

elegy
A poem of lament, meditating on the death of an individual.
-W.H. Auden, “In Memory of W.B. Yeats”
-John Milton, “Lycidas”
-Theodore Roethke, “Elegy for Jane”
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam A.H.H.”

ballad
Simple, narrative verse which tells a story to be sung or recited: the folk ballad is anonymously handed down, while the literary ballad has a single author.
-John Keats, “La Belle Dame sans Merci”
-Edward Arlington Robinson, “Richard Cory”
-William Butler Yeats, “The Fiddler of Dooney”

idyll
Lyric poetry describing the life of the shepherd in pastoral, bucolic, idealistic terms.
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Idylls of the King”
-William Wordsworth, “The Solitary Reaper”

villanelle
French verse form, strictly calculated to appear simple and spontaneous; five tercets and a final quatrain, rhyming aba aba aba aba aba abaa. Lines 1, 6, 12, 18 and 2, 9, 15, 19 are refrain.
-Theodore Roethke, “The Walking”
-Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”

light verse
General category of poetry written to entertain, such as lyric poetry, epigrams, and limericks. It can also have a serious side as in parody or satire.
-Vachel Lindsay, “The Congo”
-Lewis Carroll, “Jabberwocky”

haiku
Japanese verse in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables, often depicting a delicate image.
-Matsua Basko,
The lightening flashes!
And slashing through the darkness,
A night-heron’s screech.

limerick
Humorous nonsense-verse in five anapestic lines rhyming aabba. a-lines being trimetry and b-lines dimeter.
-Edward Lear
There was an old man at the Cape
Who made himself garments of crape
When Asked “Will they tear?”
He replied “Here and there,
But they keep such a beautiful shape!”

meter
Poetry’s rhythm, or its pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. Measured in units of feet.