Acrostic | Cinquain | Concrete | Free verse | Ghazal | Glosa | Haiku | Lyric | Limerick | Meta-ku | Ode | Pimple | Programming | Prose | Senryu | Sestina | Sonnet | Terza Rima | Triolet | Villanelle | ...

First, see here:

For another long, insane list, see A Guide to Verse Forms.


Acrostic poetry is a form of short verse constructed so that the initial letters of each line taken consecutively form words.


A five line poem, syllable structure 2 (1st line), 4 (2nd), 6 (3rd), 8 (4th), 2 (5th). The last two syllables should both be stressed and nouns and verbs should feature more promiently than adjectives and adverbs.


A Concrete poem is a conglomeration of words (sometimes one word repeated over and over) whose overall shape is a key to the concept it presents. There are no truly agreed-upon conventions, but a natural elegance of arrangement is often striven for.

Sometimes the poem can be read in multiple directions from different starting points, depending on the shape of the form and the curiousity of the reader.

Free verse

While Free Verse does not rely on the conventional use of meter or rhyme, at the core its words flow in an irregular rhythmic cadence. Subject matter, effect, and tone vary greatly across the style.

The French poets of the late nineteenth century revolted against the tyranny of strict versification and established the Verse libre movement.


A ghazal is a collection of two-line poems that follow a given meter. It, er, it's complicated. Try the following links:


Glosas open with a quatrain from another poet, and are followed by four ten-line stanzas terminating with the lines of the initial passage in consecutive order. The sixth and ninth lines should rhyme with the borrowed tenth. Glosas were used in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries by poets of the Spanish court.


The haiku is a japanese poetry form, evolved from the renga during the 16th century. It is a three line, unrhymed set of seventeed syllables (5-7-5).

It is typically a pair of contrasting concrete/sensory images, with each image so dependant on the other that the whole thing collapses if one word is altered.


Limericks use the distinctive rhyming scheme of a-a-b-b-a, where the first two lines set the scene, the third and fourth lines quickly twist things about, and the fifth line hammers the conclusion. (first, second, and fifth lines are trimeter, third and fourth are dimeter).

Limericks focus on the absurd or the silly when they're not downright naughty.


Essentially free verse, with the intent of being put to music or sung or some such.


A haiku describing how to write a haiku.


The ode is written for an occasion or on a particular subject; it is somewhat lyrical and can be put to music, but often is merely lilting, hinting at a rhythm. It has some form of rhyme scheme and meter, nothing strict, nothing overly complicated.

It is typically a dignified or serious piece, though in recent times this has been twisted sarcastically -- still meditative or noble in phrase but not in subject.


The Pantoum Verse Form by Ariadne Unst


A 'pimple poem' is essentially an ode, written as an expression of teenage angst. It is often rhymed -- forcedly so -- and can be found scrawled in high school notebooks and on live journals across the net. Often, it lacks even a hint at rhythm, and its structure is rarely overly complicated.

By definition, a pimple poem must contain simple, romantically evocative words like 'love' and 'hurt' and 'ache' and 'night' and 'stars.' Often laced with odd manipulations of language (L33t-5pe4k: "ur" "luv" "l8r" "ne") and fraught with common profanity, it offers a copious use of obvious rhymes (above/love, eyes/lies, heart/apart) and little in the way of metaphor.

It is written by the budding poet, for the budding poet, and is a crucial step in development as a writer of rhymed poetry: it teaches one what to avoid when composing rhymed, metrical verse.


The most common form of programming poetry that I've seen is perl poetry. These poems, if in code form, must compile, though the odd poem _about_ programming tends to be accepted.


PROSE POEM - as defined in The Glossary of Poetic Terms, is a genre in the poetic spectrum between free verse and prose. It is distinguished by the poetic characteristics of rhythmic, aural, and syntactic repetition, compression of thought, sustained intensity, and patterned structure, but is set on the page in a continuous sequence of sentences as in prose, without line breaks.



One of the most difficult and complex of the various French forms, the sestina is a poem consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. It makes no use of the refrain. This form is usually unrhymed, the effect of rhyme being taken over by a fixed pattern of end-words which demands that these end-words in each stanza be the same, though arranged in a different sequence each time.


There are two main camps of sonnets -- the Italian, and the English (the Shakespearean being a form of English, so far as I can tell). Here's two links:

Terza Rima

"Terza rima is a verse form composed of iambic tercets (three-line groupings). The rhyme scheme for this form of poetry is "aba bcb cdc, etc." The second line of each tercet sets the rhyme for the following tercet, and thus supplying the verse with a common thread, a way to link the stanzas. The only time the form changes is at the conclusion of the poem, where a single line that rhymes with the second line of the final tercet stands alone; the rhyme scene at the end of the poem looks like this: "xyx yzy z."" -- from Adam Palmer at Emory University


"The Triolet ("triplet"), a French verse form, is a poem or a stanza of eight lines that include two rhymes and two refrains. One rfrain is the repetition of the first line at the fourth line and the seventh line. --


A Villanelle: "is 19 lines long, but only uses two rhymes, while also repeating two lines throughout the poem. The first five stanzas are triplets, and the last stanza is a quatrain such that the rhyme scheme is as follows: "aba aba aba aba aba abaa." The tricky part is that the 1st and 3rd lines from the first stanza are alternately repeated such that the 1st line becomes the last line in the second stanza, and the 3rd line becomes the last line in the third stanza. The last two lines of the poem are lines 1 and 3 respectively, making a rhymed couplet." --


Anything not above... if you have a favorite style you don't see here, tell me about it and I might make it part of the system.