The following lesson deals with the form and structure of various poems.
The form of a poem dictates how it appears on the page and how the poet deals with his or her material. As with all writing tasks, the poet needs to begin by asking "What kind of poem am I writing?
What is my audience? What is my purpose?"
Some of the purpose answers might be:
● to tell a story
● to describe a scene
● to express an emotion
● to make a comment on life
● to tell a joke
● to advance an argument
The next question might be: "What kind of poem shall I write?" Some answers to this question might be:
● a song
● a ballad
● an ode
● a hymn
● a haiku
● free verse
● a sonnet
● a rap
● an epic
The poet's choice of form might be influenced by the audience being aimed at, but it is more likely to be determined by the nature of the material. For instance, a rap is a good way of expressing emotion and telling a story, but it might not go down well with old age pensioners. Different forms have different strengths and weaknesses. For example:
● Haikus are good for describing and expressing emotions but not much use for telling stories. ● Limericks are good ways of telling jokes but not ideally suited for expressing deep emotions. ● Ballads are good for telling stories but aren't used often to express arguments.
● Sonnets are a very good way of reflecting on a scene or an idea but are not well suited to story telling.
Over the years poets have developed many different
forms, with set rules of rhythm and rhyme. These sets of rules are known as metre . You might ask yourself why poets bother themselves with these things, but if you think in terms of running, it might become clearer. It's fun to run up and down, but if you enjoy running, eventually you will want to test yourself against others. You might decide then to become a sprinter, a middle distance runner or take up the marathon. Poets enjoy the challenge of working with different forms in the same way.
Once a poet has chosen a particular poetic form, he or she might decide:
● just to use it as a framework
● to use the known strengths of the form for a particular purpose
● to see how far the form can be taken
Sometimes the form of a poem will dictate its structure.
Shakespearean sonnets have a rhyming couplet at the end and it is very tempting to use these for the punch line of the poem.
On the other hand, free verse is structured according to the meaning the poet wishes to express.
Things to look at when dealing with form:
● Look at the number of lines, their length and the arrangement on the page. Are they regular or irregular? ● Does the form relate to the content of the poem or the subject matter of the poem?
● How is the poem punctuated? Is each stanza a sentence? Or does one sentence run across several stanzas?
● Does the punctuation always coincide with the end of a line? This is known as an "endstopped" line. Why does the poet do this?
The structure of a poem refers to the arrangement and interrelationship of its parts. Some poems, such as
, have a logical structure and present an argument; others, such as
, have a narrative structure and tell a story.
In commenting on the structure of the poem you might wish to think about:
● What is the poem trying to do? Tell a story?
Advance an argument? Comment on experience?
Describe a scene?
● How is the poem organised? Is each section separate or mixed together? Does the poem start with comment? Is there comment at the end?
How does the form the poet has chosen fit in with the structure?
Types of Poem:
Lyric poetry is a type of poetry that includes many different forms. It can refer to any short poem which has one speaker telling us about his or her feelings or thoughts.
This brings up the