Poetry, like story, has "components" that we might focus on to better comprehend a specific poem or set of poems. Voice, diction, imagery, figures of speech, symbolism and allegory, grammar, sound, rhythm and meter, and structure are examples of these aspects. A poet's choice of which elements to include in an effort to create a mood or meaning is what makes poetry unique.
To illustrate these elements, I have included links to free resources for each category. You can click on any link to visit that page with more information about that topic.
Here are the main elements of poetry:
Voice (or tone) refers to the individual words or lines of poetry used by the poet. Each verse or stanza may have its own distinct voice, or the poems' voices may be united under one authorial voice.
Diction is the quality of language used by the poet. It includes such things as word choice, syntax (the arrangement of sentences), and tone (aloud vs. silent). Diction can be simple or complex, colloquial or formal.
Image is how the poet describes something using only words, not drawings or photographs. Imagery adds dimension to our understanding of reality and creates metaphors for other concepts through associations made by the reader.
The speaker, subject, theme, shape and form, mood or tone, imagery, diction, figurative language, and sound-effect devices are the core elements of poetry. These elements combine to create a poem's "voice." The voice of a poem can be as unique as a person's speech pattern; it can also be familiar, like that of someone you know well. A poem's voice can be evident from its style of writing or can be more subtle.
Poetry has no set number of lines or syllables. Poems can be as short or as long as their writers wish. Some poems are better understood by being read aloud, while others work best when read silently. Most poems contain between three and ten sentences, but some are very short or very long. Sometimes poems have been written to be performed by musicians or actors, such as Emily Dickinson's rendition of "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" or William Shakespeare's tale of love lost and found "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken."
A poem is usually divided into lines, but this division is arbitrary. Some poets prefer using blank space instead, while others use commas or semicolons.
Meaningful Expression Successful poets employ poetry components to communicate specific ideas and topics. While there are numerous poetic components and methods, many poets use these elements and devices selectively. They frequently select the instrument that produces the desired result. A poem's ability to convey meaning depends on how effectively its various elements are used together.
Elements of Poetry include but are not limited to: metaphor, simile, personification, allusion, enjambment, breathings, iambs, anapests, sapphics, spondees, dactyls, trochees, sestets, and monorhyme.
Metaphor is the comparison of a thing or idea for dramatic effect or to clarify understanding. In poetry, metaphor is the major tool for suggesting new concepts and views of things. It makes abstract ideas concrete and familiar ones strange and intriguing. Metaphors can be explicit, as in "to love poetry is to live with imagination," or they can be hidden, as in "the poet's job is to read people well." Used skillfully, metaphors can greatly enhance a poem's effectiveness.
Similes are similar comparisons used to describe two objects or actions. In poetry, similes often begin with "like" or "as".
Identifying the modes of poetry is an underutilized approach of determining why they please (or do not satisfy) the reader. In this workshop, we will define and read examples of the four main forms of poetry (lyric, narrative, argument, and description). To accomplish so, consider seeing a narrative poetry as a song, or vice versa. We will also study how specific poets have experimented with form, particularly in terms that influence today's poets.
Narrative poems have all of the components of a fully developed tale, such as characters, plot, conflict, and conclusion. Typically, these poems are told by a single narrator or person. However, some poems may include multiple voices or sections that can be interpreted as narratives.
Narrative poems can be divided into three basic types: epic, saga, and legend. An epic is a long narrative poem written in heroic verse. The Iliad and The Odyssey are two well-known epics that have been passed down through history. A saga is a long narrative poem written in prose. Beowulf is an example of a saga. A legend is a short narrative poem written in rhyme. They tend to focus on supernatural events like battles or quests. Gilgamesh is considered one of the earliest legends and is often referred to in classifications of ancient poetry.
Narrative poems were popular in early modern Europe. Many famous poets from this time period including Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton, and John Milton wrote poems that fit this category.
There are also several narrative poems written by English poets that are not classified as epic, saga, or legend. William Shakespeare wrote many scenes that could be interpreted as narratives including stories within stories (farcical), parables (parable), and myths (myth).