Types Of Poetry Structure

Several types of poetry structure exist which depends on the style and purpose of that poetry. Below are some of the most common types of poetry structure.


These types of poetry structure are based on popular stories of legends and great heroes. Ballads exist in all communities: primitive, civilized, literate, and illiterate. The feature of ballads includes economy of expression, simplicity of language and imagery, originality by the ballad singer who never allows his personal feelings and emotions to infiltrate into the narration. No preliminaries, as the story start and end abruptly. There are two types of ballad:

1. Traditional or popular ballad, which consists mainly of stories told by word of mouth and

2. Literary ballad, which is a written type, for instance Samuel Taylor’s “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”


This is a poem or song freely improvised usually with a topical or satirical meaning. These types of poetry structure were recently popularized in the West Indies, but have counterparts in other parts of the world. Calypso was a singer mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey which was an epic.

Didactic poem

This is a type of poem that conveys an instruction or points out or teaches a moral. A well known didactic poem is Alexander Pope’s “essay on Man”.


An epic normally has a hero who is an epitome of fame, nobility and strength of character. The themes of these types of poetry structure are normally derived from folk stories and legends like powerful men fighting spirits or countries fighting countries or countries fighting against monsters.


An ode is a poem written or spoken in the form of an address to somebody or something. These types of poetry structure are usually used to mark an occasion. The word originated from the Greek word “aoide”, meaning to sing. An odist, that is a writer of odes, is usually nostalgic as he thinks or wants something that is either far away or gone. Some well known odes in the English literature include Wordsworth’s “Ode of Duty”, Coffin’s “Ode of Evening”, and Shelly’s “Ode of the west wind”.


Sonnet is a typical poem of 14 lines which originated in the 13th century. The fourteen lines are divided into two stanzas of eight called octave and six lines known as sextet. There are however three types of sonnet. One is called Shakespearean sonnet, named after Shakespeare who first used it, consisting of three quatrains and a final rhyming couplet.


It is derived from a Greek word “lyrikos” meaning a poem to be sung to the lyre. It is sung during the burial of the dead or during marriage ceremonies etc. These types of poetry structure are highly emotional and full of thoughts and feelings. Examples are Kwesi Brews’s “The Dry Season” and J.P Clark’s “Streamside Exchange”.


Elegy is developed from a Greek word “elegos” meaning a lament, a song of morning sung in a sorrowful event like the death of a bosom friend. It may also be an expression of regret for the past or pessimistic fears for the future, or a solemn meditation on humanity like Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray.