Types of Poetry
Songlike poem that tells a story, often a sad story or an adventure.
THE DYING COWBOYAs I rode out by Tom Sherman's bar-room,As I rode out so early one day,'Twas there I espied a handsome young cowboy,All dressed in white linen, all clothed for the grave.'I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy,'These words he did say as I boldly stepped by,'Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,For I'm shot in the breast and I know I must die.'Then beat your drum slowly and play your fife lowly,And play the dead march as you carry me along,And take me to the graveyard and throw the sod o'er me,ForI'ma young cowboy and I know I've done wrong.''Twas once in the saddle I used to go dashing,'Twas once in the saddle I used to go gay,
Ballad Example continued
But I first took to drinking and then to card-playing,Got shot in the body and I'm dying today.'Let sixteen gamblers come handle my coffin,Let sixteen young cowboys come sing me a song,Take me to the green valley and lay a sod o'er me,For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong.'Go bring me back a cup of cool waterTo cool my parched lips,' this cowboy then said.Before I returned, his soul had departedAnd gone to his Maker - the cowboy lay dead.We swung our ropes slowly and rattled our spurs lowly,And gave a wild whoop as we carried him on,For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,We all loved our comrade, although he'd done wrong.
Long narrative poem about many deeds of a great hero. Closely connected to a culture and reflects its values.
Hiawatha's Departure from The Song ofHiawatha ByHenry Wadsworth LongfellowBy the shore of Gitchie Gumee,By the shining Big-Sea-Water,At the doorway of his wigwam,In the pleasant Summer morning,Hiawatha stood and waited.All the air was full of freshness,All the earth was bright and joyous,And before him through the sunshine,Westward toward the neighboring forestPassed in golden swarms the Ahmo,Passed the bees, the honey-makers,Burning, singing in the sunshine.Bright above him shown the heavens,Level spread the lake before him;From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,Sparkling,flashing in the sunshine;On its margin the great forestStood reflected in the water,Every tree-top had its shadow,Motionless beneath the water.From the brow of HiawathaGone was every trace of sorrow,As the fog from off the water,And the mist from off the meadow.With a smile of joy and triumph,With a look of exultation,As of one who in a visionSees what is to be, but is not,Stood and waited Hiawatha.
Poem that tells a story---series of related events.
John Barleycorn byRobertBurnsThere was three kings into the east,Three kings both great and high,And they hae sworn a solemn oathJohn Barleycorn should die.They took a plough and plough'd him down,Put clods upon his head,And they hae sworn a solemn oathJohn Barleycorn was dead.But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,And show'rs began to fall;John Barleycorn got up again,And sore surpris'd them all.The sultry suns of Summer came,And he grew thick and strong,His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears,That no one should him wrong.The sober Autumn enter'd mild,When he grew wan and pale;His bending joints and drooping headShow'd he began to fail.His coulour sicken'd more and more,He faded into age;And then his enemies beganTo show their deadly rage.They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,And cut him by the knee;Then ty'd him fast upon a cart,Like a rogue for forgerie.They laid him down upon his back,And cudgell'd him full sore;They hung him up before the storm,And turn'd him o'er and o'er.They filled up a darksome pitWith water to the brim,They heaved in John Barleycorn,There let him sink or swim.They laid him out upon the floor,To work him farther woe,And still, as signs of life appear'd,They toss'd him to and fro.They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,The marrow of his bones;But a Miller us'd him worst of all,For he crush'd him between two stones.And they hae taen his very heart's blood,And drank it round and round;And still the more and more they drank,Their joy did more abound.John Barleycorn was a hero bold,Of noble enterprise,For if you do but taste his blood,'Twill make your courage rise.'Twill make a man forget his woe;'Twill heighten all his joy:'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,Tho' the tear were in her eye.Then let us toast John Barleycorn,Each man a glass in hand;And may his great posterityNe'er fail in old Scotland!
Poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings of a speaker.
Valentine for Ernest MannYoucan't order a poem like you order a taco.Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"and expect it to be handed back to youon a shiny plate.Still, I like your spirit.Anyone who says, "Here's my address,write me a poem," deserves something in reply.So I'll tell you a secret instead:poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,they are sleeping. They are the shadowsdrifting across our ceilings the momentbefore we wake up. What we have to dois live in a way that lets us find them.Once I knew a man who gave his wifetwo skunks for a valentine.He couldn't understand why she was crying."I thought they had such beautiful eyes."And he was serious. He was a serious manwho lived in a serious way. Nothing was uglyjust because the world said so. He reallyliked those skunks. So, he reinvented themas valentines and they became beautiful.At least, to him. And the poems that had been hidingin the eyes of the skunks for centuriescrawled out and curled up at his feet.Maybe if we reinvent whatever our lives give uswe find poems. Check your garage, the odd sockin your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.And let me know.
Long, lyric poem, usually praising or celebrating a person or thing, and written in dignified language.
Ode To ANightingale byJohnKeatsMy heart aches, and a drowsy numbness painsMy sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,Or emptied some dull opiate to the drainsOne minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,But being too happy in thine happiness,That thou, light-winged Dryad of the treesIn some melodious plotOf beechen green, and shadows numberless,Singest of summer in full-throated ease.O, for a draught of vintage! that hath beenCool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,Tasting of Flora and the country green,Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!O for a beaker full of the warm South,Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,And purple-stained mouth;That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,And with thee fade away into the forest dim:Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forgetWhat thou among the leaves hast never known,The weariness, the fever, and the fretHere, where men sit and hear each other groan;Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;Where but to think is to be full of sorrowAnd leaden-eyed despairs,Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.Away! away! for I will fly to thee,Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,But on the viewless wings of Poesy,Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:Already with thee! tender is the night,And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;But here there is no light,Save what from heaven is with the breezes blownThrough verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweetWherewith the seasonable month endowsThe grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;And mid-May's eldest child,The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.Darkling I listen; and, for many a timeI have been half in love with easeful Death,Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,To take into the air my quiet breath;Now more than ever seems it rich to die,To cease upon the midnight with no pain,While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroadIn such an ecstasy!Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vainTo thy high requiem become a sod.Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!No hungry generations tread thee down;The voice I hear this passing night was heardIn ancient days by emperor and clown:Perhaps the self-same song that found a pathThrough the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,She stood in tears amid the alien corn;The same that oft-times hathCharm'd magic casements, opening on the foamOf perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.Forlorn! the very word is like a bellTo toll me back from thee to my sole self!Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so wellAs she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fadesPast the near meadows, over the still stream,Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deepIn the next valley-glades:Was it a vision, or a waking dream?Fled is that music:--Do I wake or sleep?
Fourteen-line lyric poem that follows strict rules of structure, meter, and rhyme.
The poetry of earth is never dead:When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,And hide in cooling trees, a voice will runFrom hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;That is the Grasshopper's--he takes the leadIn summer luxury,--he has never doneWith his delights; for when tired out with funHe rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.The poetry of earth is ceasing never:On a lone winter evening, when the frostHas wrought a silence, from the stove there shrillsThe Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.On the Grasshopper and CricketBy John Keats
Poem of mourning, usually for someone who has died.
O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:But O heart! heart! heart!O the bleeding drops of red,Where on the deck my Captain lies,Fallen cold and dead.O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills; 10For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding;For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;Here Captain! dear father!This arm beneath your head;It is some dream that on the deck,You've fallen cold and dead.My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!But I, with mournful tread,Walk the deck my Captain lies,Fallen cold and dead.
Poem without a regular meter of rhyme scheme.
Free Verse Example
I Hear America Singing.Ihear America singing, the varied carols I hear,Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
A traditional form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems consist of 3 lines. The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables. The lines rarely rhyme.
Green and speckled legs,Hop on logs and lily padsSplash in cool water.
Poems with five lines with a special beat and rhyming pattern: Lines 1, 2 and 5 have 9 beats and the last words rhyme. Lines 3 and 4 have 6 beats and rhyme with each other.
There was a young dog from TibetWho really enjoyed getting wetBut rather than showerHe sniffed up a flowerAnd then had to go to the vet.
AwakeMy last night as a full-time childI didn't want to sleep, for fear ofWaking up in a rustle of too-crisp sheetsAnd a creak of inadequate bedspringsWith a lightly snoring virtual stranger eight feet away.And also I didn't want it to be tomorrow,Because then it would be time to do whatI've denied for three weeks of subsistenceAnd oblivion--ignoring is bliss.And I saw everything I never didLying around me, pieces and steps of theSuccess I never got, reminders thatWhatever I planned, I never got far.But in the middle of these broken promisesTo myself, I could see for the first timeThat I have not been broken.And I must keep myself, all that is real,As daybreak does, and nightfall.I exist to others, but all I need is me.I will be the last promise, when all is saidAnd kept.Free Verse
Iwent to the staffroom one dayFor a nice cup of tea during playBut a troll had got inAnd was making a dinEven though he had nothing to say.Limerick
Song of Myself, Part 1I celebrate myself, and sing myself,And what I assume you shall assume,For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.I loaf and invite my soul,I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,I, now thirty seven years old in perfect health begin,Hoping to cease not till death.Creeds and schools in abeyance,Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,Nature without check with original energy.Ode
JohnHenryJohn Henry said to his CaptainI ain't nothing but a man,But before I'll let your steam drill beat me down,I'll die with my hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord,I'll die with my hammer in my hand."John Henry got a thirt pound hammer,Beside the steam drill he did stand.He beat that steam drill three inches down,And he died with his hammer in his hand, Lord, Lord,He died with his hammer in his hand.John Henry had a little woman,Her name was Julie Ann,She went down the track never lookin' back,Says, "John Henry, you have always been a man, Lord, Lord,John Henry, you have always been a man."They took John Henry to the graveyard,And buried him in the sand,And ev'ry time that train comes roaring by,Says, "There lays a steel-drivin' man, Lord, Lord,There lays a steel-drivin' man.Ballad
Red Blushed And All Cut UpBy Paul McCannTalking to myself thereSomeone had overheard.I was lost for a word.There was nothing to share.Embarrassed I was there.Left awkward and absurd .A broken wingless bird.With nowhere to fly there.Caught red faced there was I.Didn't want to be seen.I just wanted to die.I just wanted to scream.I'm so terribly shy.Lost for words it would seem.Sonnet
“Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.” –TheOdysseyEpic
DyingbyEmily DickinsonI heard a fly buzz when I died;The stillness round my formWas like the stillness in the airBetween the heaves of storm.The eyes beside had wrung them dry,And breaths were gathering sureFor that last onset, when the kingBe witnessed in his power.I willed my keepsakes, signed awayWhat portion of me ICould make assignable,-and thenThere interposed a fly,With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,Between the light and me;And then the windows failed, and thenI could not see to see.Lyric
The cardinal flies,through the sky and becomes one,with the setting sun.Haiku
Papa’s Fishing HoleI place my tiny hand in hisas we walk to Papa’s Fishing Hole.I hand him a wiggling night crawlerfighting for his life.The deadly hook squishesthrough the worm’s head,and I watch the brown guts ooze out.Papa throws the pole’s long arm backand then forward.The line lands in a merky spotalong the reedy shore.Now I get to reel it in.Nothing yet, he says.He casts again. I reel it in.Still nothing.Three time’s a charm, he says.He casts.A strike.We turn the crank together.The fish jumps from the waterand his colors form a rainbowas he arches his body above the reeds.My Papa handles himwith the skill of a masteras I stop helping to watch him work.A stiff jerk, a quick reel, a stiff jerk again.The fish doesn’t have a chance, I yell.I know. I know. I know, he says.Narrative