More Poetic Forms

There are numerous other poetic forms that you might enjoy exploring. The menu on the right will link you to descriptions and examples of these additional forms.

   Tom Swifty
   Prepositional poem
   Pattern poem
   Sesta Rima

Tom Swifty

Not actually a poetic form, this is a type of word play that usually follows this form:
    a. a fictious quotation provides a fact, setting, or event that relates to
    b. the person, character, or concept to which the quotation is attributed, followed by
    c. The adverb which provides the pun.
These examples might clarify the idea for you.

"I hate that crocodile," Captain Hooke said offhandedly.

"Friendship 7 has just splashed down," John Glenn said exorbitantly.

"Here's a vaccine against hydrophobia," Louis Pasteur said rabidly.


Prepositional Poem

A prepositional poem is a form of unrhymed verse with no specific length or meter. Its name comes from the characteristic beginning of each line: a preposition. Here is an example:

Mama Ridley

Without concious knowledge,
Through her senses,
From distant waters
Across the miles
To the spot...

Out of the surf,
Up the beach.
From her body,
Into the sand.
Down the beach,
Into the sea.

Throughout the ages,
Without conscious knowledge,
Through her senses,
Beyond our ken.



Short for biographical or biological, the biopoem can be adapted to many uses since the content and the form are variable. For use in a biology class, for example, the following form was adopted:
    line 1 common name
    line 2 four traits that describe the organism
    line 3 Relative of: (taxon or example)
    line 4 Possessor of: (3 structures)
    line 5 Who feeds on: (3 items)
    line 6 Who senses: (3 stimuli)
    line 7 Who reproduces by: (3 modes)
    line 8 Who requires: (3 conditions)
    line 9 Who is noted for: (3 items)
    line 10 Inhabitant of: (environment)
    line 11 Phylum name

If that sounds complicated, it really is not. Here is an example:

    Porous, colonial, colorful, sessile
    Relatives of the metazoa
    Possessors of spicules, collar cells, and oscula
    Who feed on bacteria, algae, and protozoa
    Who sense touch and little else
    Who require food, oxygen, and a constant current
    Who reproduce by buds, gemmules, and gametes
    Who are noted for their organization, absorbency, regeneration
    Inhabitants of the water (fresh and marine)



The tanka is a Japanese verse form of five lines. The first and third lines are composed of five syllables each, and the rest, of seven. It is basically a haiku with two more lines.

Silence and stillness...
Fallow fields fill up with snow;
Springtime lies buried.
Jonquils trumpet winter's end;
Carpets of green welcome spring.
Droning cicadas
Signal summer's sultry start;
Hungry ghosts roam free...
Summer's siege has ended well
When sated ghosts enter Hell.



An acrostic is a poem or series of lines in which certain letters, usually the first of each line, form a name, motto, or message when read in sequence.

Romulus founded it
On a site that he chose, after
Murdering his twin brother,
April 21, 1 ad urbe condita.
At most, your teeth numbered four.
Each coughing fit took its toll,
Leaving you toothless at last.
In the future, pay no heed;
As nothing's left, there's no need.


Pattern Poem

A pattern poem, also known as a calligram or a technopaegnion, is a form of unrhymed verse with no specific length or meter. Its name comes from the characteristic shape that suggests the subject of the poem. Here is an example:

Click for musical accompaniement.



A simple form of light verse was created by and named after Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956). It is a pseudo-biographical quatrain, rhymed as two couplets, but lacking any constraints of rhythm or meter. The first line is usually the name of the subject. Here is an example:

Edmund Clerihew Bentley

Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Penned humorus poetry gently
With four lines that rhyme
Taken two at a time.

Aelia: A Clerihew

Aelia's toothless at last;
Blame coughing fits of the past.
So wrote Martial,
Whose satire was impartial.



The sestain is a made-up verse form consisting of three rhymed couplets combined to form a six-line poem with the rhyme scheme aabbcc. The lines are of equal, but unspecified, length, and the meter is variable.

Martial to Auctus      

A field is sold to buy a boy;
Reversing it's another's ploy.
Tell me, Auctus, which of the two
Appears the better trade to you?
Artemidorus plows in heat;
Calliodorus plows for wheat.

Auctus to Martial

Both men have plowed and sown their seed;
Who reaps the most will win indeed...
Their appetites will both be fed--
One with passion; the other, bread.
Man cannot live by bread alone,
But what remains when passion's flown?



The sedoka is a six-lined Japanese verse form with a syllable count of 5-7-7-5-7-7. Unlike the mondo, it is written by a single author and does not consist of a question and its answer. The sedoka may tell a story, or the two halves of the poem may address the same subject from differing perspectives. This poetry has often been composed as folk ballads.

Aelia: A Sedoka      

Tell me, Aelia...
Before you started coughing,
Did you have more than four teeth?

Worry no longer...
After those two hacking fits,
You have nothing left to lose!


Sesta Rima

The sesta rima is a six-lined stanza written in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of ababcc. It is also known as a "Venus and Adonis" stanza.

Sesta Rima      

The sesta rima form of verse is fun.
Its scheme for rhyme begins with a and b.
A six-lined poem, such as this is one,
Will end with lines, the both of which are c.
The iambs (short and long) from line to line,
In groups of five, will mark the meter's time.


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