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Types of Short Poetry

Updated on August 2, 2015

Haiku: Short and Sweet

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Acrostics, Haiku, and Limericks

I remember as a schoolgirl writing poems of many stanzas, agonizing over rhymes and striving for perfection. I eventually abandoned poetry for essays and short stories, which I found more enjoyable to write.

Now as an adult I have rediscovered poetry. This time, instead of trying to craft a great epic poem, I started writing short observations about the world around me in the form of haiku or acrostics. These short poems are fun to create and I love the challenge of creating a rich word picture using very few words.

I have included Limericks in this lens because I think they get a bad rap. Yes, people snicker at "dirty Limericks," but the poetry form can just as easily be used for good, clean fun.

Enjoy reading these examples and try your hand at some short poetry. You may find yourself writing a whole collection of poems!

Acrostic Poems

Fun with Letters

An acrostic is a poem arranged so that the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase when read from top to bottom. A simple example using the word "cat" is shown below.

Cavorting through the catnip,

Always purring,

Tabby, my kitten.

Try a love poem using the word "Valentine" or the name of your beloved. For a writing challenge, choose a word at random from the dictionary and try to craft a poem. Acrostics need not rhyme, so just have fun.

Haiku

Japanese Poetry Form

A haiku poem consists of three lines. The first and third lines each have five syllables, while the second line has seven. Within these strict parameters, many lovely poems can be created. The subjects of haiku poetry are often natural things: sea, animals, wind, etc. Here is an example:

Grazing all day long,

A low-stress lifestyle you have.

Sweet cows in pasture.

Limericks

Poetry for the Non-Elite

Limericks originated in England and, like the traditional drinking songs of centuries past, often insult delicate sensibilities. As a folk art form, limericks are always rather ribald, but it is possible to write clean ones, too.

The standard form of a limerick is five lines, with an AABBA sequence of rhyming lines. The first line typically introduces a person and place and establishes the rhyme. Here is a simple example:

There was a young man from New York,

Whose mind was quite sharp as a fork.

He fell in a pit,

Where his head took a hit.

And now he is merely a dork.

Limericks can be a fun way to teach children about rhyming words. Just be sure they don't get too insulting with their witty limericks.

(Image from FreeClipArtNow.com)

Rhyme Time!

Merriam-Webster's Rhyming Dictionary, New Second Edition, trade paperback
Merriam-Webster's Rhyming Dictionary, New Second Edition, trade paperback

Sometimes you do want to rhyme. A rhyming dictionary is arranged according to how things sound rather than how they are spelled. This is also a handy tool for songwriters.

 

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    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      I have just started writing limericks, for a poetry competition in fact. But I love haiku and when I have a quiet moment I can find myself creating these marvellous little wonders

    • profile image

      sybil watson 3 years ago

      Writing haiku is such a great way of taking time to just breathe and be grateful for what's surrounding you. I have a friend who writes them as a form of meditation every day. This lens is a good reminder that sometimes less is more.