Different Types of Poems and How to Write Them

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke meaning. Poems can be classified into various types based on their nature and structure. Lyrical poems, narrative poems are two main classifications based on their content. Sonnets, odes, elegies are some examples of lyrical poetry whereas ballads and epics are examples of narrative poetry. Blank verse, free verse, sonnet, cinquain, shape poems are some examples of classifications based on the poetic structure. This article will teach you some different types of poems and how to write them.

The following poetic forms will be discussed here. 

1. Blank Verse
2. Free Verse
3. Limerick
4. Sonnet
5. Narrative Poem

Different Types of Poems and How to Write Them

Blank Verse

Blank verse, also known as unrhymed iambic pentameter, is written in regular metrical but unrhymed lines. It is often written in iambic pentameter. Blank verse has a consistent meter with 10 syllables in each line. Each line contains five alternating pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables.

Example of Blank Verse

William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis”

To him who in the love of Nature holds

Communion with her visible forms, she speaks

A various language; for his gayer hours

She has a voice of gladness, and a smile

And eloquence of beauty, and she glides

Into his darker musings, with a mild

And healing sympathy, that steals away

How to Write Blank Verse

  • First of all, decide what you want this poem to be about.
  • Then write down a list of nouns, adjectives, verbs about this specific topic.
  • Then list out synonyms of these words in a separate section.
  • Next make a rough draft of the poem, trying to keep ten syllables in each line.
  • Count the syllables in each line. See if they follow the unstressed, stressed pattern. The rhyme in each line should sound like

ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM

  • If words you have written don’t match the syllable pattern, use the list of synonyms you made to replace words.
  • If it doesn’t work, try rearranging the sentence structure
  • Read the poem aloud to make sure it has the correct meter.

Free Verse

Free verse is a type of poetry that does not require regular rhyme schemes or meter. Some people find it a very free type of poetry since the poet doesn’t have to use a specific form or rhyming scheme. However, poets can use other techniques such as alliteration.

Example of Free Verse

Come Slowly, Eden by Emily Dickinson

Come slowly, Eden
Lips unused to thee.
Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
As the fainting bee,
Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums,
Counts his nectars—alights,
And is lost in balms!

How to Write Free Verse

  • First, decide what you want to write about and think about how you want to approach the theme or subject you have chosen.
  • Write down all the words and phrases that come into your mind about this subject. Select which of these words and phrases you are going to use in your poem.
  • Make a rough draft using the list you created. Try to use techniques like similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, etc.
  • Revise and edit your draft. You can detect places that sound awkward or off by reading the draft aloud. Delete, add and rearrange lines as appropriate.


Limerick is a humorous poem written in five lines with an AABBA rhyme scheme. The first, second and fifth lines of a limerick use a three metrical feet and are longer than the rest of the lines. Third and fourth lines follow two metrical feet.

Example of Limerick

There was an Old Man with a Beard” by Edward Lear

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!

How to Write a Limerick

  • Before writing a limerick you should be aware of the structure of a limerick.  The rhythm of a limerick sounds like this:

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

  • Write the first line of the limerick. Using the name of a person or a place at the end of the first line is a common trick in limerick.

There was once a guy named Jim

  • Then find rhyming words to match this name. Make a list of rhyming words.

prim, swim, him, skim, dim, trim, slim

  • Now right the second verse using one of the rhyming words.

who never learned how to swim.

  • Now think what could happen in the third and fourth lines. Remember that these two lines only have two beats.

He fell into a well

and none heard his yell.

  • Now go back to the list of rhyming words to write a line that ends the poem.

And that was the end of him.

Here’s the poem we have written:

There was once a guy named Jim

who never learned how to swim.

He fell into a well

and none heard his yell.

And that was the end of him.Different Types of Poems and How to Write Them


Sonnet is a lyrical poem consisting of 14 lines written in iambic pentameter. This poetic form originated in Italy and became popular in England during the Renaissance period. A sonnet can be structured according to either the Petrarchan sonnet/Italian sonnet form or Shakespearean/ English sonnet form. Petrarchan sonnet consists of an octet and a sestet. The octet typically follows the ABBA ABB rhyme scheme whereas the sestet can follow CDCCDC or CDECDE. Shakespearean sonnet contains three quatrains and a couple. The typical rhyme scheme of an English sonnet is ABAB BCBC CDCD EE.

Example of Sonnet

Sonnet 34, Shakespeare

“Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
 And make me travel forth without my cloak,
 To let base clouds o’ertake me in my way,
 Hiding thy brav’ry in their rotten smoke?
‘Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak,
That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief,
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss,
Th’ offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.
Ah but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich, and ransom all ill deeds.”

How to Write a Sonnet

  • Choose the rhyme scheme you want to follow in your sonnet (Petrarchan/ Shakespearean).
  • Then, decide what you are going to write about. Remember, a sonnet builds up an argument. So, you can’t just write a description about something. There has to be a logical build up. For example, if you are writing a Shakespearean sonnet,

1st quatrain introduces the situation and exposes the main theme and main metaphor

2nd quatrain complicates the situation. This usually has some imaginative examples.

3rd quatrain might present a twist or conflict.

Couplet ends the sonnet and gives the readers some new idea to ponder over.

  • Write the sonnet in iambic pentameter. (Read how to write in Iambic Pentameter)
  •  Make sure that you have followed the correct rhyming pattern. Include rhyming words at the end of each line as the structure demands.

Narrative Poem 

A narrative poem narrates a story.  This is one of the oldest forms of literature. Different types of poetry such as epics and ballads belong to the category of narrative poetry.

Ballad: A ballad is a narrative poem that was traditionally set to music. A ballad is typically shorter than an epic poem. 

Epic: An epic is a long, often book-length narrative poems. They usually narrate the adventures and great deeds of warriors. Examples of epic poems include The Illiad and The Odyssey. 


“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
 “Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

How to Write a Narrative Poem

  • Select a story you want to tell. It can be a real incident or a completely fictional story.  The story must have a clear beginning, middle and end.
  • Try to write the story down in verse form. There is no fixed rhyme or meter in narrative poems. So, you can create your own structure.
  • Use different literary techniques to make your poem more effective. Read What are Literary Techniques

How to write a Cinquain Poem

How to write a Diamante Poem

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.