What Structure Is Poetry Written In? A Guide To Styles

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You may think poetry is just a jumbled mess of words, but it’s not. There’s a method to the madness, a structure to the style. And once you understand it, you’ll be able to appreciate poetry like never before.

So, what structure is poetry written in? Let’s take a journey through the various styles and find out.

Poetry is like a puzzle, each piece carefully crafted to fit into the bigger picture. And just like how no two puzzles are the same, no two poems are the same either. From sonnets to haikus to free verse, each style has its own set of rules and challenges.

But don’t let that intimidate you. With this guide, you’ll be able to navigate the world of poetry with ease and maybe even discover a new favorite style along the way.

So, let’s dive in and unravel the mystery of poetic structure.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the structure of different poetry styles can help in appreciating poetry.
  • Each poetry style has its own rules and challenges, such as sonnets, haikus, free verse, limericks, villanelles, and ghazals.
  • Poetry themes often convey emotions and ideas related to love, death, beauty, loss, and spirituality.
  • Experimental poetry breaks free from traditional forms and explores new possibilities in language and expression, challenging conventional notions of poetry.


If you’re looking to explore the world of poetry, you can’t go wrong with sonnets – they’re packed with emotion, and they’re a blast to read!

Sonnets were first introduced in Italy during the Renaissance and were known for their strict structure of 14 lines and a rhyme scheme. However, as time went on, poets began to experiment with the form, leading to the creation of various types of sonnets.

One of the most famous sonnet writers is William Shakespeare, who wrote over 150 sonnets. His sonnets were known for their exploration of themes such as love, death, and beauty. In fact, many of his sonnets have become so iconic that they are still studied and analyzed today.

Other famous sonnet writers include John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Pablo Neruda, each with their own unique style and approach to the form.

Whether you’re a seasoned poetry reader or just starting out, sonnets are a great place to start exploring the world of poetry.


Haikus paint vivid pictures with just a few carefully chosen words. The beauty of simplicity is what makes haikus stand out from other poetic structures.

Haikus originated in Japan and are composed of three lines with a total of 17 syllables. The first line contains five syllables, the second line contains seven syllables, and the third line contains five syllables.

The essence of haikus lies in their ability to capture the fleeting moments of life and nature in just a few words. Finding inspiration in nature is the art of writing haikus.

Haikus often focus on the beauty of nature, such as cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, or the sound of a trickling stream. Haikus require you to observe the world around you, to take notice of the small details that often go unnoticed.

Writing haikus can be a meditative experience, allowing you to slow down and appreciate the present moment. So next time you take a walk in the park or sit in your backyard, take a moment to observe the world around you and see if you can capture the beauty of nature in just a few carefully chosen words.

using haiku in writing poems
Using Haiku in writing poems

Free Verse

Free verse allows for a more fluid and unrestricted expression of emotions and thoughts through the use of natural language and imagery.

Exploring the freedom of expression in free verse poetry can be liberating. However, it’s crucial to remember that even free verse poetry has structure. The importance of structure in free verse poetry is that it serves as a guide to the poet, ensuring that the poem flows coherently and the message is conveyed effectively.

To create imagery in the audience’s mind, free verse poetry often employs the following techniques:

  1. Repetition of words or phrases to emphasize a point or feeling.
  2. Use of sensory language to evoke vivid images in the reader’s mind.
  3. Metaphors and similes compare two dissimilar things and create a deeper understanding of the subject.
  4. Enjambment, is the continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line to the next, creating a sense of motion and fluidity.

As you experiment with free verse poetry, remember that while the structure may not be as rigid as in traditional forms, it’s still an essential element. Use the freedom of expression to your advantage, but don’t forget to consider the structure and how it can enhance the poem’s impact.

Other Poetry Styles

You may be familiar with traditional poetry styles like sonnets and haikus, but have you heard of limericks, villanelles, ghazals, concrete poetry, and experimental poetry?

These styles offer unique structures and techniques for crafting poetry. Limericks, for example, are known for their humorous and often bawdy content, while villanelles feature a repeating rhyme scheme.

If you’re looking to expand your poetic repertoire, exploring these lesser-known styles can be a great way to challenge yourself and try something new.


Oh boy, if you’re looking for a poetry structure that’ll make you laugh and cringe at the same time, then limericks are your go-to!

These short and humorous poems follow a strict rhyme scheme and syllable count, making them easy to memorize and repeat. Limericks are believed to have originated in Ireland in the early 18th century, and they were often used to mock and ridicule individuals or events.

To give you a better idea of what a limerick looks like, let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a group of friends sitting around a campfire, taking turns reciting silly poems.

Suddenly, one person stands up and begins to recite a limerick about a man from Nantucket. The group erupts in laughter as the punchline is delivered, leaving everyone in stitches.

Limericks are the perfect structure for those who want to inject some humor into their poetry, and they’re a great way to get creative with wordplay and puns. So go ahead and give them a try, and see where your imagination takes you!


Don’t be intimidated by the challenging structure of a villanelle, because once you dive into the repetitive rhyme scheme and refrains, you’ll be swept away by the emotional depth and power of this poetic form.

The history of the villanelle dates back to 16th-century France where it was used for light-hearted poetry. However, it wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that it gained popularity as a form for more serious themes.

Analyzing famous villanelles can give you a better understanding of the power of this form. One of the most famous villanelles is ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ by Dylan Thomas. Through its repetitive structure, the poem conveys the urgency of fighting against death.

Another notable example is Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art,’ which uses the form to explore the theme of loss and the difficulty of accepting it.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the structure and see where it takes you. Villanelles may seem daunting, but they’re a rewarding form that can bring depth and emotion to your poetry.

using villanelle in writing a poetry
Using villanelle in writing a poetry


Get ready to be swept away by the mesmerizing and lyrical structure of ghazals, a form of Arabic poetry that’s been embraced by poets around the world.

The history and evolution of ghazals can be traced back to the Arabian Peninsula during the 7th century. It was a popular form of poetry that was used to express love, grief, and spirituality.

Over time, ghazals spread to Persia and India, where they were further developed and became a prominent feature in the literary landscape.

One of the most famous ghazal poets is Mirza Ghalib, who lived in India during the 19th century. His ghazals are known for their intricate language and profound philosophical themes.

Another notable ghazal poet is Hafez, who lived in Iran during the 14th century. His ghazals are known for their mystical and spiritual themes.

Today, ghazals continue to be popular among poets and readers alike, with many contemporary poets putting their own spin on this classic form of poetry. So why not try your hand at writing a ghazal and see where this beautiful form of poetry takes you?

Concrete Poetry

Now that you know about Ghazals, let’s explore another exciting form of poetry – Concrete Poetry.

This style of poetry is all about visual representation, where the poem’s shape on the page contributes to its meaning. Instead of relying solely on words, Concrete Poetry uses typography, spacing, and arrangement to create a picture that complements the text.

This style of poetry was made famous in the 1950s and 60s by poets like Ian Hamilton Finlay and Eugen Gomringer. Finlay’s work often incorporated images and symbols, while Gomringer focused on simplicity and repetition.

One of the most famous examples of Concrete Poetry is ‘The Mouse’s Tale’ by Lewis Carroll, where the words are arranged in the shape of a mouse’s tail.

So, if you’re looking to experiment with poetry and want to play with both words and visuals, Concrete Poetry is an excellent place to start!

Experimental Poetry

Let’s dive into the exciting world of Experimental Poetry, where writers break free from traditional forms and push the boundaries of language and expression.

In this style, the poet becomes an explorer, venturing into uncharted territories of the mind and language. They challenge conventional notions of what poetry should be, exploring new ways of expressing emotions, ideas, and experiences.

Exploring boundaries is at the heart of experimental poetry. Writers in this style often break free from the traditional structures of poetry, such as meter and rhyme, and instead, use unconventional forms and structures that challenge the reader’s expectations.

The role of language is also deconstructed in experimental poetry, with writers exploring the nuances and subtleties of words and phrases, often creating new meanings and associations. In this way, experimental poetry invites us to see the world in a new light, challenging us to think outside the box and explore new possibilities in language and expression.


From sonnets to free verse, haikus to other poetry styles, there are a plethora of options available to you.

So whether you’re a seasoned poet or just starting out, understanding the different poetry structures is essential to creating a compelling piece of writing.

So, go ahead and experiment with different styles, and who knows, you might just create a masterpiece!

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.