Poetic Forms

As a poet I have done a lot of work with poetic form and I have even dabbled in free verse. In this article I will be going over my top 5 favorite forms of poetry as well as my feelings towards free verse. There are hundreds of different poetic forms that have specific rhyme schemes, syllable counts, and fixed meter. Free verse is poetry that is free from fixed meter or rhyme. My list will count down from my least favorite forms to my most favorite forms.

5. Terza Rima – A Terza Rima is a poem with 11 syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of aba, bcb, cdc, dd. You could also try writing a Terza Rima Sonnet which keeps the 11 syllable count per line, but has a rhyme scheme of aba, bcb, cdc, ded, ee.

I like the Terza Rima form because its combination between syllable count and rhyme scheme makes the poem flow together very well. It makes the poem almost roll off the tongue.

4. Kyrielle Sonnet – The Kyrielle Sonnet is a French poetry form with 14 lines and a repeating line or phrase as a refrain. The repeating line is usually the last line of each stanza. Like many other French poetic forms, the kyrielle sonnet links back to the beginning of the poem by using the first and last quatrain as the ending couplet of the poem. A kyrielle sonnet consists of 3 rhyming quatrains and 1 non-rhyming couplet as well as 8 syllables per line. The best rhyme schemes for a kyrielle sonnet are AabB, ccbB, ddbB, AB or AbaB, cbcB, dbdB, AB where the capital letters are the repeated lines.

I like the kyrielle sonnet because in a way it is both a simple and complex form of poetry. It has a very simple rhyme scheme but because of the repeating lines it adds a little bit more of a challenge to write it. At the same time if written right, the repeating line can really force the meaning of the poem onto the reader. The ending couplet really ties the poem together and reinforces the refrain within the poem.

3. Tyburn – A tyburn is a 6-line poem with a syllable count of 2, 2, 2, 2, 9, 9. The first 4 lines of the tyburn are all descriptive words and the last 2 lines rhyme and use the first four lines as the 5th through 8th syllables.

I like the tyburn because while it is a very strict form, it can strike more emotion into the reader than many other forms and ultimately when I am writing I want the poem to incite emotions in the reader.

2. Etheree – An etheree is a 10-line poem with a syllable count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. You can also reverse the syllable count and write it as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. You can also double the length of the poem by reversing it once you finish the first 10 lines to look like so: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

I like the etheree because it really helps inexperienced writers learn about syllable counts at the same time as not binding you to a rhyme scheme. In a way it gives you a bit of limited freedom.

1. Ottava Rima – An ottava rima is a poem written in 8-line octives. Each line has 10 or 11 syllables with a rhyme scheme of abababcc. There is no limit on the number of octives that this poem can have. Each octive has a similar scheme to the first and looks like this: abababcc, dededeff, ghghghii etc.

The reason the Ottava Rima is my favorite form of poetry is that it has a beautiful rhyme scheme as well as offering a little bit of flexibility in the syllable count of each line. It makes for a lengthy but beautiful poem that has a very nice flow.

I like reading free verse but I have a very hard time writing it. I enjoy writing with form so whilst I enjoy reading with form as well, free verse allows a poet to express far more emotion in a piece as they are not forced to restrict their writing with any particular form. I, however, find it very difficult to write in free verse as I am so used to writing with structure.

As a closing to this article I would like to bring up one form of poetry that actually bothers me; the Haiku. I love the form but I dislike seeing that most people mistake another form for a haiku. A haiku is about nature. Whenever you write a “haiku” that is not about nature you are actually writing a Senryu.

The more you know. Keep writing!

By Alex Hicks



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