Poetry – Structure and Devices

– This is a more technical article detailing some poetic devices, terms, and a breakdown of some of the types of poetry. I tried to break this down in a way that’s easy to understand for beginners and useful to reference more more experienced poets who occasionally need a refresher. I hope you guys find this useful. Happy writing!

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Types Of Poems

Free Verse Poems do not have a set pattern. This is the most common form for contemporary poetry like The World’s Wife or Milk and Honey.

Form Poems do have a set pattern. Examples of this type of poetry are haikus, sonnets, formal verse, sestina, and villanelles.

Metered Poems have a pattern set to a specific rhythm or beat. 


A poem’s pattern is communicated through the use of three primary things:

Stanza (a block or paragraph in the poem)

The use of stanzas is very important to the way you interpret or construct a poem. The number of lines in a stanza, the way a stanza is formed, continuous repetition across stanzas, etc. 

Punctuation (the use of terminal or non-terminal punctuation & its position)

Enjambment ~ Line continues into the next, marked with non-terminal punctuation (, / 😉

End Stop ~ Line ends or is stopped, marked with terminal punctuation (. / ? / !)

Caesura ~ a pause inside a line of the poem

Initial –> near beginning of the line

Medial –> near middle of the line

Terminal –> near the end of the line (but not the end)

Punctuation is used in a poem for either emphasis of a certain word, phrase, or idea, or to control the pace at which the reader reads the poem. Punctuation is meant to design the impact of the words on the reader. 

Line Tension (when all lines within a stanza are of similar length, making lines with unusual length stand out to the reader; emphasis)

Poetic Devices

Cacophony is the repeated use of displeasing sounds in order to cause the reader discomfort (such as sounds that cause the lips to pull back toward the ears when spoken aloud).

Euphony is the repeated use of pleasing sounds in order to cause the reader comfort (such as round sounds like ~oh and ~wow).

These are both effective when creating tone or mood within the words of the poem. 

Metaphor is the comparison of two things without using the words like or as.

Similie is the comparison of two things using the words like or as.

These are both effective when providing imagery or including allusion in the poem.

Sound Devices

Eye Rhyme is when a reader sees two words that seem to rhyme on paper, but do not when spoken aloud. 

Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds

  • dangerous dogs dig ditches in Denver

Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds within close proximity of each other

  • middle and end

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words

the light of fire is a sight

Onomatopoeia are words that imitate sounds

  • buzz, honk, hiss, vroom

Rhyme is the repetition of sounds at the ends of words

  • spring rhymes with fling

Internal Rhyme occurs within a single line

External Rhyme occurs at the end of two or more lines

Rhyme Scheme is the pattern of end rhyme in a poem, described by assigning each new rhyme a letter

run quickly   A

buzzing bees   A

children run    B

having fun    B 

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