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Tutt Library Research Guides


Poetry: Lyrical Poetic Forms

Use this guide to learn more about poetry books, journals, genres, websites, internet publications, contests, awards, and much more...


Alliteration:: repetition of consonants, vowels, and/or syllables in close proximity within a line.


The Tyger


Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire in thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art?
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand, and what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb, make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


By William Blake


Limerick: a form of light verse composed of lines rhyming aabba.

There was an Old Man with a nose,
Who said, 'If you choose to suppose,
That my nose is too long,
You are certainly wrong!'
That  remarkable Man with a nose.

By Edward Lear (1812-1888) 

Poetry & Poetics

  • Poetry: Topic Page
    Imaginative literary form, particularly suitable for describing emotions and thoughts. Poetry is highly ‘compressed’ writing, often using figures of speech to talk about one thing in terms of another, such as metaphor and simile, that allows the reader to ‘unpack’ the poem's meaning for itself. MORE
  • Rhyme: Topic Page
    Or rime, the most prominent of the literary artifices used in versification. Although it was used in ancient East Asian poetry, rhyme was practically unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans. MORE
  • Sonnet: Topic Page
    Genre of 14-line poem of Italian origin introduced to England by English poet Thomas Wyatt in the form used by Italian poet Petrarch and followed by English poets John Milton and William Wordsworth; English playwright and poet William Shakespeare wrote 14-line sonnets consisting of three groups of four lines (quatrains) and two final rhyming lines (a couplet), following the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg. MORE
  • Ballad: Topic Page
    In literature, short, narrative poem usually relating a single, dramatic event. Two forms of the ballad are often distinguished—the folk ballad, dating from about the 12th cent., and the literary ballad, dating from the late 18th cent. MORE
  • Versification: Topic Page
    Principles of metrical practice in poetry. In different literatures poetic form is achieved in various ways; usually, however, a definite and predictable pattern is evident in the language. MORE
  • Pentameter: Topic Page
    [Gr.,=measure of five], in prosody, a line to be scanned in five feet (see versification). The third line of Thomas Nashe's "Spring" is in pentameter: "Cold doth / not sting, / the pret / ty birds / do sing." Iambic pentameter, in which each foot contains an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable, is the most common English meter. MORE


Sonnet: a 14-line lyrical fixed form, typically in iambic pentameter, characteristically using one of specific rhyme schemes andn expressing a single theme or emotion.


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

By William Shakespeare (1554-1616)


Quatrain: a poem or stanza of four lines, usually with alternating rhyme scheme.

She sweeps with many-colored Brooms

She sweeps with many-colored Brooms—
And leaves the Shreds behind—
Oh Housewife in the Evening West—
Come back, and dust the Pond!

You dropped a Purple Ravelling in—
You dropped an Amber thread—
And how you've littered all the East
With duds of Emerald!

And still, she plies her spotted Brooms,
And still the Aprons fly,
Till Brooms fade softly into stars—
And then I come away—

By Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


  • Symbolism: Topic Page
    In the arts, the use of symbols to concentrate or intensify meaning, making the work more subjective than objective. In the visual arts, symbols have been used in works throughout the ages to transmit a message or idea, for example, the religious symbolism of ancient Egyptian art, Gothic art, and Renaissance art. MORE
  • Simile
    From The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
    A figure of speech most conservatively defined as an explicit comparison using “like” or “as”—e.g. “black, naked women with necks / wound round and round with wire / like the necks of light bulbs” (Elizabeth Bishop). MORE
  • Metaphor: Topic Page
    Figure of speech using an analogy or close comparison between two things that are not normally treated as if they had anything in common. Metaphor is a common means of extending the uses and references of words. MORE
  • Trope
    From Encyclopedia of Postmodernism
    A trope is a figure of speech that denotes or connotes meaning through a chain of associations. It employs a word or phrase out of its ordinary usage in order to further demonstrate or illustrate a particular idea. MORE
  • Synecdoche
    From Encyclopedia of Postmodernism
    Synecdoche means literally understanding one thing with another; as a rhetorical trope, the substitution of part for whole or vice versa. When defined as the use of an attribute or adjunct as a substitution for that of the thing meant, synecdoche is directly related to metonymy. MORE

Blank Verse

Blank verse: unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter often used in long poems and dramatic verse.

The Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

By Robert  Frost (1874-1963)

Online Poetry Magazines

A sampling of literary magazines that focus on specific poetic forms.

  • Four and Twenty
    Publishes short form poetry with poems that are four lines or under and with 20 words or fewer.
  • American Tanka
    Literary magazine that publishes the tanka, a form of Japanese poetry. Typically, a tanka has 5 lines with the following number of syllables: 5/7/5/7/7.
  • The Prose-Poem Project
    Literary magazine that limits its focus to prose poems.
  • Unsplendid
    Publishes "nonce" form poetry. A "nonce" form is one created by the poet and may play with more traditional poetic forms.
  • Trinacria
    Publishes formal metrical verse.

Figures of Speech

  • Allusion
    From The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
    A poet’s deliberate incorporation of identifiable elements from other sources, preceding or contemporaneous, textual or extratextual. A. may be used merely to display knowledge, as in some Alexandrian poems; to appeal to those sharing experience or knowledge with the poet; or to enrich a poem by incorporating further meaning. MORE
  • Alliteration
    From The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
    The repetition of the sound of an initial consonant or consonant cluster in stressed syllables close enough to each other for the ear to be affected. MORE
  • Onomatopoeia
    From The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
    The traditional term for words which seem to imitate the things they refer to, as in this line from Collins’ “Ode to Evening”: “Now the air is hushed, somewhere the weak-eyed bat / With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing.” MORE
  • Hyperbole
    From The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
    A figure or trope, common to all lits., consisting of bold exaggeration, apparently first discussed by Isocrates and Aristotle (Rhetoric 1413a28). MORE
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