Part A. Narrative
Narrative poems tell
stories in verse. A number of them are very old and were
originally intended to be recited to audiences, such as
Homer's "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey".
For children, perhaps
the most accessible narrative poems are ballads.
Traditionally, a ballad contains four lines, each with eight
syllables and with the second and fourth lines rhyming.
Not all ballads follow
this scheme, but all include a setting, character, and
events with a climax. The stories are often tragic and
Broken-legg'd Man" by John Mackey Shaw,
Ballad of a Bachelor" by Ellis Parker Butler
Lyric poetry typically
describes the poet's innermost feelings or candid
observations and evokes a musical quality in its sounds and
Lyric poems exhibit an
endless variety of forms. Below are some popular lyric
Haiku: a lyric,
unrhymed poem of Japanese origin with seventeen syllables
divided into three lines. It is usually on the subject of
nature and humans' relationship to nature. Successful haiku
uses metaphor to give us a fresh and imaginative look at
something we may view as quite ordinary.
The moon is a week
A dandelion to
five-line stanza apparently of medieval origin, often with
two, four, six, eight, and two syllables respectively in the
With faint dry
Like steps of
The leaves, frost-crisp'd,
break from the trees
(Adelaide Crapsey's "November
Sonnet: a very
old form of poetry, having gained prominence during the
Renaissance, but not found much in poetry for children. It
contains fourteen lines, each line with five iambic feet (or
Children of the Night " by Edwin Arlington Robinson
five-line humorous poem, the first, second, and fifth lines
rhyming and the third and fourth lines rhyming. It is one of
the most popular poetic forms among children, The fun of the
limerick lies in its rollicking rhythm and its broad humor.
Imagine a skunk
To his true love, surrounded by roses.
It may turn out just fine,
When she falls for his line,
But I wonder if flowers have noses?
adhering to no predetermined rules, but usually with its own
intricate patterns of rhyme and rhythm. It requires the same
thoughtful choice of words and rhythmical patterns as the
more rigid stanza forms.
Shadow" from Robert Louis Stevenson's
Garden of Verses
Oh, Homework!" by Jack Prelutsky
The words of a poem are arranged to form a pictorial
representation of the poem's subject.
Wings " by George Herbert (1633), designed to
suggest angel wings.
Mouse's Tale" by Lewis Carroll (1865), from
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Online examples of concrete poetry.