An ancient Sumerian tablet discovered in the late 1800s, in Nippur, a region in today's Iraq is on display in the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient. It is believed to be the oldest love poem ever, that is thought to have been written over 4,000 years ago.
In the words of William Wordsworth, one of the greatest poets of all time, all good poetry is a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquility. Poetry is a beautiful manifestation of the spontaneous emotions of a poet. A poem is created when emotions find the right words to express themselves. A poem often begins in an abstract idea that is developed by means of concrete words, without letting the idea lose its abstractness. Those of you with a poetic mind will agree with me on this, I am sure.
Poetry has a long history. The earliest forms of poetry were recited and sung. With the passing years, it obtained a structured form that later evolved into a free verse format. Poets dealing with different subjects and presenting their ideas in different ways, gave rise to various kinds of poetry. Depending on the lines the poems are composed of, or the pattern or rhyme scheme they follow, they can be distributed across several types. And also, based on the subjects they are written on, of the kind of emotions they portray, they can be divided into kinds like love, breakup, funny, dark, and others.
Acrostic: In acrostic poems, the first letters of each line of the poem are aligned vertically to form a word. Generally, the word formed thus, is the subject of the poem.
Ballad: Ballads are narrative poems that are supposed to be sung. The narrator usually starts with a dramatic scene and relates the narrative with dialog and actions.
Canzone: The word canzone, which means, a song, signifies any simple song-like composition. It is an Italian song or ballad.
Cinquain: Cinquain poems are five lines long. They do not rhyme.
Concrete: In this kind of poetry, the topographical arrangement of words supports the meaning conveyed by the poem. The poems form a picture of the topic on which they are centered.
Couplet: It is a very simple form of a verse, which contains two rhyming lines.
Diamante: This type of poetry is one of the simplest ones to write. The first line of a diamante is a single word; the second line consists of two adjectives describing that word, the third line contains three words about the subject while the fourth line contains four. The fifth line and the lines that follow consist of a similar pattern of words describing the idea opposite to the subject of the poem. It seems this kind of poetry writing is simple and interesting.
Dramatic Poetry: A drama that is written in the form of verses to be recited or sung refers to the dramatic genre of poetry. This form of poetry has evolved from Greek and Sanskrit literature.
Epic Poetry: This genre of poetry is a type of narrative literature that narrates stories of mythological heroes. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and the great Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana are a few of the noteworthy examples of epic poetry.
Free Verse: Free verses refer to the different styles of poetry, wherein the poems do not carry a specific meter. Free verses are a poet's expressions, which are free from any rules or restrictions pertaining to the rhyme schemes of the poem.
Ghazal: This form of poetry is popular in the Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Bengali literature. It is characterized by five to fifteen couplets that have a refrain at the end of every second line. Each couplet of a ghazal can stand individually as each represents a distinct thought.
Haiku: It is an unrhymed form of poetry that is native to Japan. It contains three sections that can be written in a single line, but are written in three lines instead. The way it is broken, is in essence the poetic effect of this poetic form. This kind of poetry contains a cutting word, which is known as a kireji and a season word, known as a kigo.
Iambic Pentameter: It is a relatively complex form of poetry that uses syllables to bring in a musical element to the poems.
Jintishi: Native to China, Jintishi is a poetic form based on tonal patterns consisting of the four tones of the classical Chinese language in every couplet. Jintishi is composed of eight lines in four couplets, wherein two couplets depict contrasting ideas but similar grammatical patterns. Du Fu, a poet of the 8th century was an important name in the world of Jintishi.
Limerick: Limerick is one of the very popular kinds of poetry. A limerick is a funny little poem with a rhyme scheme of 'aabba'.
Lyric Poetry: Lyric poetry is of a personal nature, wherein a poet expresses his/her perceptions and ideas through poetry. Lyric poems deal with subjects like love, peace, loss and grief. T. S. Eliot is one of the prominent names in lyric poetry.
Minnesang: It refers to the German tradition of writing lyrics and songs. It became widely popular in the 12th century and continued until the 14th century. The poems belonging to this kind of poetry revolve around the subject of love.
Narrative Poetry: This is a genre of poetry that involves story-telling and is one of the very old forms of poetry. The content of these types of poems is intended to appeal the masses. Ovid, William Langland, Alexander Pope and Shakespeare are some of the notable figures in the field of narrative poetry.
Nursery Rhymes: It is one of the most popular types of poetry, especially a favorite of the kids. Nursery rhymes are short poems written for children and are usually handed over from one generation to another.
Ode: Originally developed by Greek and Latin poets, Odes soon began to appear in different cultures across the world. Odes possess a formal poetic diction and deal with a variety of subjects.
Pantoum: It is composed of quatrains, where the second and fourth lines of each verse are repeated as the first and third lines of the next stanza.
Pastourelle: It refers to an old French lyrical form. The poems in this category have the romance of a shepherdess as their central idea.
Prose Poetry: This genre of poetry blends prose and poetry. It is very similar to a short story. However, its concise nature and the use of metaphor in it are sufficient to classify it as a poetical form.
Rondeau: It consists of fifteen lines, which make use of two rhymes. It was a French form of poetry.
Ruba'i: This form of poetry is written as a four-line verse. It is written by the poets in Arabia and Persia.
Satirical Poetry: Sarcasm serves as a very powerful means of expressing criticism. An insult can most strongly be expressed through poetry. Romans have been using satirical poetry for political purposes.
Sestina: In this kind of poetry, there are six stanzas, each consisting of six lines without an element of rhyme. The words that appear at the end of the lines in the first stanza are repeated in other stanzas. A concluding stanza of three lines wherein the repeating words reappear in a peculiar way is an important characteristic of Sestina.
Sijo: It is a musical lyric popular among the Korean poets. It is written in three lines with a pause in the middle of every line.
Sonnet: Derived from Occitan and Italian words meaning 'a little song', Sonnet was originally a fourteen-line song that was based on a strict rhyme scheme and structure. Shakespeare, who wrote 154 sonnets, was one of the most important figures in the field of sonnets.
Stave: see Stev
Stev: It is a form of lyrical poetry that is prominent in Scandinavia. Stave is the English version of this kind of poetry.
Tanka: It is an unrhymed kind of poetry that originated in Japan. It came up as a shorter version of the Japanese formal poetry and the poems of this type were primarily based on personal themes. The emergence of Tanka dates back to the Nara period. It became popular in the 13th century and continues to be practiced till today.
Verse Fable: The poems that belong to this genre of poetry consist of stories set into verses. Fables involving natural elements and inanimate objects carrying a moral or message for the masses are expressed through verses. Verse fables use different types of rhyming schemes.
Villanelle: The poems of this type consist of nineteen lines made up by five triplets and a concluding quatrain. This form of poetry has received impetus since the late 19th century, giving rise to poets like Elizabeth Bishop and Dylan Thomas.
With this, we covered a detailed list of the different kind of poetry as also its various genres. Let us now take a look at the different types of poetry categorized on the basis of the subjects they deal with.
Baby Poems: Babies are the sweetest creations of nature. Baby poems try to describe what having a baby in the family means. Some make you smile, others make you cry.
Poems on Birth and Death: Birth signifies a beginning while death marks the end of life. Poems on birth and death essentially deal with these two aspects of living.
Break Up Poems: Breaking a relationship is always painful. Break up poems narrate such experiences of a poet and try to portray the pain in saying goodbye, as well as the feeling of moving on.
Dark Poetry: Life is beautiful. But negative feelings like hatred, loneliness, depression, and pain eclipse life's beauty. Pieces of dark poetry are portraits of dark emotions like these.
Dream Poetry: Poets are dreamers. They compose poems from their world of dreams. Dream poetry revolves around this dream-world that creative people like to live in. After all that's where their poetic creations come from.
Family Poems: Your family means the world to you. Family poems, as their name suggests, talk about family ties. They talk about the colorful threads in a family fabric; some close-knit, some difficult to weave, some torn, some entangled, some strong, and some weak.
Funeral Poems: Death ends life, leaving behind memories of the dead. Funeral poems are written in the loving memory of a dead loved one. They portray the pain of losing someone beloved and the difficulty in dealing with that huge loss.
Funny Poems: They tickle your funny bone, they make you laugh, they bring a smile to your face, they are fun.
Goodbye Poems: A journey together ends with a goodbye. Something new cannot begin without bidding goodbye to the old. Goodbye poems portray this feeling and teach one to move on.
Love Poems: Love is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. It's often expressed in poetry. Be it a lasting love relationship or lost love, this emotion has always been depicted through poems. Love poems, as their name suggests, are those about love in its various forms.
Nature Poems: The beauties of nature have always interested poets. The endlessly stretching sky, the mystically blue seas, the rising and the setting sun, the mountains, the trees, the clouds, the breeze - everything in nature has its own charm and it never fails to inspire a poet. He words his understanding of what nature has to say, through nature poems.
Poems about Life: Some say that life is a journey while others call it an adventure. Some call it a dream, others call it a cruel reality. Poems on life say everything that life has to offer - joy, sorrow, surprise, just everything life is about.
Poems for Special Occasions: Birthdays, weddings, baby showers, parties, celebrations, and festivities - there are poems on all these, meant to celebrate these important occasions in life.
Poems on War and Peace: Wars personify grief and destruction. Peace is what we yearn for. Listen to what these poets have to say through their poems on war and peace.
Relationship Poems: Relationships form a crucial aspect of life. It is these relationships that make life worth living. Relationship poems celebrate these ties and talk about the difficulties in maintaining them. Friendship is one of the most beautiful things in life. Friendship poems talk about this bond.
Rite of Passage and Identity Poems: Life is a continuous process of learning. Life is about learning to live and knowing yourself. These poems talk about the rites of passage.
Children and Teen Poetry: They constitute poems about and for children and teenagers. They describe the various facets of the two important phases in life; childhood and teenage.
The discussion about poetry can never end. There's so much written by so many great poets, that life won't be enough to read poetry in its different forms. Literature hosts a huge collection of several kinds of poetry and has a legacy of brilliant poets who enlivened the different poetic forms. Hats off to all of them.