What is Poetry, types of Poems and its examples

What is Poetry, types of Poems and its examples

What is Poetry, types of Poems and its examples










In Mariam Webster Dictionary poem is defined as a piece of writing that usually has figurative language and is written in separate lines that often have a repeated rhythm and sometimes rhyme.

Other English translation for poem is that, it is a piece of writing in which the words are arranged in separate lines, often ending in rhyme, and chosen for their sound and for the images and ideas they suggest.

But I explain a poem as an imaginative piece that expresses feelings and emotions usually written in stanzas and in verses to express or convey an idea in a compressed manner.



A Ballad is usually a narrative poem. Any ballad is of historical events to fairy tales in verse form. It is usually with foreshortened alternating four- and three-stress lines (‘ballad meter’) and simple repeating rhymes, and often with a refrain. Ballad is often a poetic adventure love story. Example is an extract from the poem MY LOVE POTION by the Author.

At the middle around the ocean

I was reading the love in his purple emotion

There a heavy storm arose

Thought I could pamper him all night with my love and a rose

His holy kisses and godly lips had me more fascinated

But his captainship, love and life was assassinated



This is a type of poem composed in mournful verses or stanzas that expresses sorrow or lamentation, usually for a dead person or of reminiscence of the past. A sung elegy is called a Dirge, most elegies are written in a formal style. Example; an extract from the poem “BEAUTIFUL TORMENTOR” by the author.



Oh! If he could arrive there with love’s light wings

The tongue that was gladdened by his saliva at night

Would have resurrected,

And eyes that pierce his heart during the day

She made him believe, she was a paradise in human form

But, alas, he has realised how beautiful tormentor she was

That embraced the cold love of the icy touch of death with joy.



  • EPIC

This is a long narrative poem that tells a heroic deeds, achievements or events about a culture or society that is significant to the poet.  Example is Homer’s Odyssey and Milton’s “Paradise Lost”


    It is a short poem that talks of peaceful pastoral or country scenes, events or episode, or long poems that tell a story about ancient heroes. Example is Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses” an extract from the poem.

It little profits that an idle King,

By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole

Unequal laws unto a savage race,

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

  • ODE

Is a meditative/lyric poem that honors or praise a thing or a person or an event. Example is MY BEAUTIFUL TREASURE, OCEAN etc by the author.



This is a poem that imitates the style of another poet or poem which aims at making fun of the poet or the poem. Example Lewis Carol’s “The Mad Hatter’s song” is a parody of Jane Taylor’s “The Star”

THE MAD HATTER’S SONG                                            THE STAR

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat                                                    Twinkle, twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are at                                             How I wonder what you are

Up above the world you fly                                                   Up above the world so high

Like a tea tray in the sky                                                        Like a diamond in the sky


Oliver Herford’s “Song” is a parody of Robbert Herrick’s “To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time”

SONG                                    TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME

Gather Kittens while you may,         Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Time brings only sorrow,                  Old time is still a-flying

And the kittens of today                    And this same flower that smiles today,

Will be Old Cats To-morrow            Tomorrow will be dying


Also Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130” is a parody of the traditional love poems common in his day. He presents an anti-love poem theme in a manner of a love poem mocking the exaggerated comparisons they made.

“My mistress” eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks,”

And some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground:

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she believed with false compare.


Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” is a parody of Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”

“THE NYMPH’S REPLY                            “ THE PASSIONATE SHEPHERD

  TO THE SHEPHERD”                                 TO HIS LOVE”

If all the world and love young,                       Come live with me and be my love,

And truth in every Shepherd’s tongue,            And we will all the pleasures prove,

These pretty pleasure might me move,           That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

To live with thee, and be thy love.                   Woods, or steepy mountain yields.


Time drives the flocks from the field to fold,        And we will sit upon the Rocks,

When Rivers rage and Rocks grow cold,               Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks,

And Philomel becometh dumb,                              By shallow Rivers to whose falls

The rest complain of cares to come.                       Melodious birds sing Madrigals.


The flowers do fade, and wanton fields,                  And I will make thee beds of Roses

To wayward winter reckoning yields,                     And a thousand fragrant posies,

A honey tongue, a heart of gall,                              A cap of flowers, and a kirtle

Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.                         Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle;


Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of Roses,               A gown made of the finest wool

Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies                           Which from our pretty Lambs we pull;

Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten:                  Fair lined slippers for the cold,

In folly ripe, in reason rotten.                                     With buckles of the purest gold;


Thy belt of straw and Ivy buds,                                  A belt of straw and Ivy buds,

The Coral clasps and amber studs,                             With Coral clasps and Amber studs:

All these in me no means can move                          And if these pleasure may thee move,

To come to thee and be thy love.                               Come live with me, and be my love.


But could youth last, and love still breed,                   The Shepherds’ Swains shall dance

and sing

Had joys no date, nor age no need,                             For thy delight each May-morning:

Then these delights my mind might move                   If these delight thy mind may move,

To live with thee, and be thy love.                               Then live with me, and be my love.


Parody add humorous effect to poetry and it makes it more enjoyable and fun to read. It also gives another poet a room to express his or her view about a particular poem.


This is a kind of poem that elevates the life of shepherds or shepherdess from the country side. Example is an extract from Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd To His Love”




‘COME live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove,

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountains yields.



And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.


And I will make thee beds of roses

And a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flower, and a kirtle

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;


The green fields by the author


At the green fields

We will sit all night and day

To watch the unrevealed wings of rosebuds of may

That in its midst the sweetest love yields


There a white shepherd feeds his golden flocks

In the pastures that knew no winter

In that pastures I will search for the love locks

That will lock our heart to give it a good texture


We will nest our love with the modern wool

And listen to the sweet songs the shepherd sing

In that sound we will let go of all hurtful feelings to sink

And keep our cool


At that green fields

Our love will never go cold

But will be forever filled

And we will boast with our love as we become bold








This is a kind of poem that uses humour, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to criticize or expose vices, stupidity, folly and corruption. Example is Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock”, in the poem Pope exposes the vanity of young fashionable ladies and gentlemen and frivolity of their actions. Pope says about Belinda after losing her lock of hair-

“Whether the nymph shall break Diana’s law,

Or some frail China jar receive a flaw,

Or stain her honor or her new brocade”



It is a fourteen lines poem or sometimes eleven and is written in iambic pentameter, each lines has 10 syllables with specific rhyme scheme.

Generally sonnets are divided into different groups based on the rhyme scheme they follow. The sonnets are categorized into six major types. They are:

  • Italian Sonnet
  • Shakespearean Sonnet
  • Spenserian Sonnet
  • Miltonic Sonnet
  • Terza Rima Sonnet
  • Curtal Sonnet

Let’s look at how these sonnets work in literature.


This type of sonnet was introduced by an Italian poet Francesco Petrarch in the 14th century. The rhyme scheme of Petrarchan sonnet has first eight lines called octet that rhymes as abba-abba and the six lines called sestet rhymes cdc-dcd. Example is “Visions” by Francesco Petrarch.



Being one day at my window all alone,

So many strange things happened me to see,

As much as it grieveth me to think thereon.

At my right hand a hynde appear’d to mee,

So faire as mote the greatest god delite;

Two eager dogs did her pursue in chance.

Of which the one was black, the other white:

With deadly force so in their cruel race


They pincht the haunches of that gentle beast,

That at the last, and in short time, I spide,

Under a rock, where she alas, oppress,

Fell to the ground, and there untimely dide.

Cruel death vanquishing so noble beautie

Oft makes me wayle so hard a desire.

NB: the above is the English translation of the Italian language by Francesco done by Edmund Spenser.



A Shakespearean Sonnet is generally written in an iambic pentameter, there are 10 syllables in each line. It is made up of three quatrains (12 lines) for the introduction, exposition and argument of the related ideas and examples and a couplet (2 lines) for the poet’s affirmation, denial or conclusion and it rhymes abab-cdcd-efef-gg.   Example is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 154


The little love-god lying once asleep,

Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,

Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep

Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand

The fairest votary took up that fire

Which many legions of true hearts had warmed;

And so the General of hot desire

Was, sleeping, by a virgin hand disarmed.

This brand she quenched in a cool well by,

Which from love’s fire took heat perpetual,

Growing a bath and healthful remedy,

For men diseased; but I, my mistress’ thrall

Came there for cure and this by that I prove,

Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love


The first line:  1    2 3    4       5    6 7      8     9 10

The little love-god lying once asleep,

That makes up 10 syllable in the English Sonnet.



This is a type of sonnet which rhymes abab-bcbc-cdcd-ee. Such rhyme scheme was introduced by Edmund Spenser who modified the Petrarch’s sonnet. Example is Amoretti by Edmund Spenser.


One day I wrote her name upon the strand,

But came the waves and washed it away:

Again I wrote it with a second hand,

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.

“Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain assay,

A mortal thing so to immortalize;

For I myself shall like to this decay,

And eke my name be wiped out likewise.”

“Not so, “(quod I) “let baser things devise

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:

My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens write your glorious name:

Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,

Our love shall live, and later life renew.”



This is a type of sonnet that rhymes abba-abba-cde-cde, and it’s done by John Milton in the 17th century. Milton took the sonnet out of the category of “love poems” and brought it into the world of politics and social issues.

A Miltonic Sonnet is:

  • A quatorzain, enjambment is used to tighten the sonnet, leaving the 14 lines unbroken by stanzas.
  • Metered, iambic pentameter
  • Pivot evolves slowly after line 8
  • Composed around the themes of moral issues and political insights.

Example is On His Blindness by John Milton.


When I consider how my light is spent,

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with the useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest he returning chide,

Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?

I fondly ask, but Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies: God doth not need

Either man’s works or his own gifts: who best

Bear his mild yolk, they serve him best. His state

Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed

And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

They also serve who only stand and wait.



This is composed of a three-line stanza woven into a rhyme scheme that requires the end-word of the second line in one tercet to supply the rhyme for the first and third lines in the following tercet. Thus, the rhyme scheme is aba-bcb-cdc-ded continues through to the final stanza or line.

Terza rima is written in an iambic pentameter in English example is “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.



O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,


Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,

Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,

Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed


The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,

Each like a corpse within its grave, until

Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill

(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)

With living hues and odours plain and hill:


Wild spirit, which art moving everywhere;

Destroyer and preserver; hear, o hear!



A sonnet of eleven lines rhyming abcabc-dcbdc or abcabc-dbcdc with the last line a tail or half a line. The term was used by Gerard Manley Hopkins example is “Pied Beauty”


Glory be to God for dappled things- –

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and plotted and pieced–fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.


All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise Him.


Sonnet is however falls under two major categories. Sonnet is either Italian or English, and in most books it is taught and referred to as the two types of sonnet.



Compare the above rhyme scheme with the below poem by the author.




No sooner has the longest sun get set

All worries will go if only she let

The queen of the earth will, will make merry

If sands can engage the queen and marry

Her rolls will not interrupt with finest sweep

Far away, away from the silence deep

The voices of the queen will-will be heard

If the rocks of the shores witness, not speared


The queen will forever enjoy her reign

The sky could halt showering the queen with rain

Yet, her waters would still be supreme-wide

Her pretty tide will ride from side to side

And with a deepest sound she screams at night

Yes I’m the queen that has a great might

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Written by Joyceline Natally Cudjoe

I am An Entertainment Columnist, Content Writer, Blogger, Novelist, Poet, and a Publicist.

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