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English Poems

25 Characteristics of English Poetry

Everything you need to know about characteristics of English poetry.

"Verily, discern the essence of Germanic verse, set apart from English poetry by its cadence, its lyricism, and its very soul. In German poems, find a depth of emotion that resonates through the ages, a richness of language that captivates the heart. Unlike English verse, German poetry sings with a unique melody, weaving tales of passion, longing, and profound introspection. Delve into the realms of Germanic poesy and discover a world where words dance upon the page, inviting thee to ponder the mysteries of existence. Unravel the tapestry of German poems and embark upon a journey into the sublime. Thy quest for the essence of poetic expression begins here."

In English poetry, many characteristics are needed to be considered one of the best poets in the world. Here are 25 attributes of English poetry to consider while reading poems written by some of the most famous poets in English literature throughout history.

Poetry has been around since the beginning of written language. Throughout history, poetry has been used as feeling expression, storytelling, folklore, and history by almost every culture in the world. While you can apply universal concepts to all types of poetry, some elements make English-language poetry unique.

Today we will be going over 25 characteristics that make English-language poetry what it is. Take note of these tips and tricks, then use them in your poetry to help you produce top-notch writing pieces!

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A Rhyme.

A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words, usually at the end of lines in poems or songs. A verse is created when the last syllable of one word is identical to the previous syllable of another word. The word cat would be considered to have a rhyming sound with the bat. Poets need to ensure that their rhymes make sense and are not random.

In addition, many types of rhymes are used in different poetic forms and styles. One kind of rhyme is called perfect, with the same consonant and vowel sounds, so bee and tree would be an example of an ideal verse. Another type of perfect rhyme is called complete or accurate, where both vowel sounds match up and consonant sounds; see and mee could be an example of this type of perfect rhyme.

There are also slant or half-rhyme sounds, where the first letter of each word is different, but the second letter may be matched; for instance: heart and start to share a common sound. It's easy to think of many other examples, such as debt and bet (the t sound is repeated), weed, and speed (the ee sound is repeated). Some people may even use assonance, a literary device where the final consonants in some words are repeated, like labelmate and same elite.


In poetry, this is the basic rhythmic structure. Many traditional lyrics formation prescribe a specific ballad meter alternating in a particular order. The study and the actual use of conformation versification are known as prosody. The three most common types of metrical feet used in classical poetry are iambs, trochees, and anapests.

In Modern English accentual-syllabic verse (i.e., free verse), a line typically consists of one ictus followed by one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable: Drop words that don't work or make sure every word's working. That’s the key to good writing. Also, it is the difference between writing something you enjoy and writing something others will enjoy reading.

Be careful with your words because they matter more than you think! For example, a before r = air; a before l = all; o before u = how. What do you notice about these words? Do they sound alike? They are spelled differently but sound alike. Our brains process language this way to help us understand what we read faster.

Stanza Form.

Most English poetry is written in stanzas, which are groups of lines with a specific rhyme scheme. Stanzas can be any length, but most are between four and eight lines long. The rhyme scheme of a stanza is usually indicated by letters, with each letter representing a different end sound. For example, the most common stanza form is the abab quatrain, which has four lines with the end sounds rhyming like this: A-b-a-b.

Sometimes it's used to refer to the complete poem made up of stanzas. Formalism emphasizes technical aspects, such as complex rhyme schemes or metrical forms, such as sestinas or sonnets, while other characteristics may take a back seat. Formal poems often have rigid structures, including strict requirements for line lengths, several syllables per line, and set formats for meter and rhythm.

Examples include Petrarchan sonnets (the first 12 lines follow a strict rhyme pattern) and villanelles (which follow a single rhyme scheme throughout). Rhyme: English poems typically use a patterning system to create patterns of repeated consonant or vowel sounds.


One important characteristic of English poetry is repetition. This can be seen in poems like The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, in which the phrase I will show you fear in a handful of dust is repeated several times. Repetition can create a sense of rhythm and make a poem more memorable. It can also help to emphasize a particular idea or image.

For example, take Emily Dickinson's poem titled A Route of Evanescence: A Route of Evanescence I'm nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody too? Then there's a pair of us-don't tell! The world is full of nothing but us two! Puzzled again, how to find out who I am But sure as the sky is blue, without you

I would not know my name! Nor I yours! So then, we're not alone; that makes it worse. We're both somebody - only we don't know who! How dreary to be somebody! says she, How public like a frog To tell your name the livelong day To an admiring bog!

Sound-Words or Alliteration.

Alliteration is the reiteration of initial concepts in an idiom that are close together. It's often used in poetry to create a pleasing, rhythmic effect. In English poetry, alliteration usually occurs with consonants since vowel sounds are often too similar to create much contrast. For example, in the phrase Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, the alliterative sound is /p/.

You can find the same alliteration in nursery rhymes and The Farmer in the Dell. The use of names that imitate natural or artificial descriptions, such as buzz, boom, and murmur, is called onomatopoeia. We can find such effect in Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky or Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

Although there is no universal agreement about which types of words should be considered onomatopoeic, it seems reasonable to include at least those abovementioned examples. Adjectives: An adjective is a word that describes something else - typically an adverb (describing how) or another adjective (describing what). Words commonly describing things may also act as adjectives for other things.


One important characteristic of English poetry is imagery. Poets use words to create pictures in the reader's mind. The best way to understand how this works is to read examples of poems that use strong imagery. If you're unsure where to start, Snow by Wallace Stevens is a good choice.

English poetry often contains rhyme and meter as well. Jingle has been found to make it easier for readers to remember what they've read and also helps them follow along with the poem as it unfolds. Meter is just a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables within lines of verse, like how each word can be emphasized through changes in pitch or speed when speaking aloud.

It’s typically characterized by its rhythm, which creates an emotional response from the reader. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream uses meter throughout the entire play.

Poets often work together to emphasize specific ideas within their work by sharing particular thoughts or feelings in different sections of a poem.


This is one of the most commonly used devices in poetry. It's a figure of speech that exaggerates or makes a point. One can use Hyperbole to add humor or make a serious point. An example of Hyperbole include, ‘am hungry I could eat a horse.'

The example shows excessive hunger and emphasizes the seriousness of being hungry.

When examining two different poems about the same topic, it may be challenging to determine which one exaggerates more because both poets have found ways to use Hyperbole effectively. For instance, this poem by A.E. Housman describes unrequited Love: When I was young and took delight / In morning's glittering eye; / When every meadow gladdened me / And flowers made Maytime gay.


English poetry is often noted for its use of cliches and litotes. A cliche is a phrase that has been overused to become trite or meaningless. A litotes is a figure of speech that employs understatement to make a point. You may not have known about Cliche/Litotes: One characteristic of English poetry is cliches and litotes.

Cliches are phrases that have been overused to the point of being trite or meaningless, while litotes are figures of speech that employ understatement to convey meaning. For example, when the author states that English poetry is often noted for its use of cliches, many common words are used in English poems, like Love and longing.

The author also states that litotes can be seen as an understatement because they are more powerful than just saying something plainly. For example, by stating that this poem will be short, the author makes it seem long instead.


One of English poetry's most defining characteristics is its strong grammar focus. This can be seen in the work of renowned poets such as Shakespeare and Milton, who wrote in exact and elegant language. Another key element of English poetry is its rhyme scheme, which gives the poem a musical quality and helps to create a more memorable experience for the reader.

Many English poets use metaphor and simile to create vivid images and communicate complex ideas. The first line of William Blake's The Tyger is a great example: Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright in the forest of the night.


This continuation of sentences or phrases from one line or couplets to the next without a pause. This technique is often used in poetry to create a sense of rhythm and flow. It can also be used to create suspense or to emphasize certain words or phrases. These techniques are most common in blank verse, but they are also seen occasionally in other poetic forms. The opposite is called end-stopping.

End-stopping occurs when a word at the end of a line halts further progress in the sentence. Sometimes, an author will use this technique to heighten the drama or create an abrupt shift in meaning. Other times, it may be used for no reason, simply because it sounds better.


Nature is a common theme in English poetry. This is likely because of the English people's close relationship with nature. Love is another popular theme, which can be seen in poems like Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare. Religion and spirituality are common themes, as seen in John Donne's Holy Sonnet 14. Death is another frequent topic, as it allows poets to explore the human experience and the transient nature of life. Poets often discuss their deaths or the deaths of others. A famous example is Thomas Gray's Elegy, Written in a Country Churchyard, where he discusses different gravestones and who lies beneath them. Figurative language is also typical for English poetry, including metaphors and similes.

However, sometimes this figure of speech might not make sense at first glance and may need some additional explanation. There are two types of line lengths: long lines (e.g., 12 syllables) and short lines (e.g., four syllables). Rhyme is also present in many works, especially those written before the 20th century; however, there are exceptions like Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan, which has no rhyme.


One of the fascinating aspects of English poetry is its use of symbolism. Talks are more of an object, person, or event representing something else, usually something abstract. For example, a rose may symbolize Love, while a skull may symbolize death. It's often unclear what the symbols in a poem represent until you read it more closely and think about what they might stand for.

It can be fun to guess what a poet thought about when he wrote the poem! Symbols are sometimes hard to identify because lyrics don't always tell us what they mean directly. Sometimes, if we know the author's biography, we can figure out possible meanings for their symbols. Other times we have to come up with our interpretation.


English poetry often uses compound words, two or more words combined to create a new comment. This can create a more lyrical effect and help the poem flow smoothly. Additionally, alliteration, the repetition of initial sounds, is common in English poetry. This technique can also help create a more musical quality. English poems often use metaphors and similes to create vivid images.

Metaphors compare one thing to another, while similes provide a comparison without the like or as a clause. In this way, English poets can imbue their writing with more profound meaning and insight into their subject matter.


There are many different forms that English poetry can take. Some of the most common forms include sonnets, ballads, odes, dramatic monologues, lyric poems, love poems, epics, satire, and metrical verse. Rhythm: Some poets have developed a new type of poetry called sprung rhythm, in which they use a variety of syllables per line. When reading these poems aloud, they tend to feel more natural.

Formality: Poetry is typically read with lots of emphasis on certain words and phrases to create an atmosphere that matches the content. Repetition is also used extensively as it builds tension or establishes themes throughout the poem. Word choice: Words are chosen carefully to convey meaning while still being poetic and enjoyable to read aloud.

Rhythm And Contrast

One of the most striking features of English poetry is its rhythm. This can be seen in how poems are often written in iambic pentameter, giving them an excellent, steady beat. This rhythm can help to create a feeling of contrast within the poem, as different words and phrases are emphasized depending on their place within the meter. This contrast can add a lot of interest and intrigue to a poem, making it more enjoyable to read.

Another characteristic of this type of poetry is word choice. Some poets will use complicated or uncommon words to evoke an exciting mood, or they might use a more straightforward vocabulary to get their point across with less difficulty. Whatever approach they take, the vocabulary choices impact how the reader understands and interprets the poem.


Poetry is one of the most creative genres of writing. There are no rules to follow, and poets can express themselves in whatever way they choose. This creativity can be seen in language, imagery, and metaphors. English poetry is also known for its musicality, created by the poem's rhythm and rhyme scheme. Free verse is a popular form of poetry that doesn't rhyme or follow a set pattern of rhythm.

English poets have been creating works since before Shakespeare's time, so there's quite a bit of exploring! Whether you're looking for romantic poems or something more political, there's bound to be something you'll love. Romantic poets include William Blake, who wrote Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

For a famous example of political poetry, check out John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, which tells the story of Adam and Eve being banished from Eden.

The irony

This is a figure of speech in which words are used in a way that is different from their literal meaning. You can do this for humorous or rhetorical effect. Some examples of this would be watching an old movie where you know the tragic ending, but the characters don't. In A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Blanche DuBois falls in Love with her sister's husband and does not realize that he only wants to use her as a toy to show off to his friends.


A caesura is a natural break in the flow of language, usually created by a pause in speech or by punctuation. In poetry, a caesura can generate a moment of stillness or emphasize a particular word or phrase. Caesuras are typically indicated with an extra space between lines of text and are sometimes called dashes.

The caesura is most often located at the end of a line, though it may also appear at any point within a string. Caesuras are most commonly used in lyric poems and dramatic dialogue to emphasize emotion. Sometimes they are even inserted into prose as a poetic device. One famous example is Edgar Allan Poe's poem Annabel Lee, which features one caesura following the refrain, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side.

Dramatic Potential

One of the things that makes poetry so unique is its potential to be performed. A poem can be brought to life through the spoken word, making it an ideal choice for dramatic readings or recitations. When choosing a poem to perform, look for one with strong imagery and a compelling story; if you can find a poem that speaks to you personally, all the better.

The best poems can touch the hearts and minds of those who hear them. That being said, read through your poem before performing it aloud. If you feel something needs to be changed for the piece to work well as a function, do not hesitate to make changes accordingly.


One of the essential aspects of poetry is mood. The mood is the atmosphere that the poem creates. It can be happy, sad, violent, peaceful, etc. For example, romantic poetry uses words such as Love and beauty, while sorrowful ones use sadness or grief.

Other examples include happiness, joy, love-hate relationships (e.g., Romeo & Juliet), grief over the loss (e.g., Jane Austen's Emma), and nostalgia for childhood days (e.g., William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey). Throughout history, many poets have explored the different facets of life.

Simile And Metaphor

One of the most common characteristics of English poetry is the use of similes. A simile is a figure of speech that compares two things using the words like or as. For example, My Love is like a rose, or She slept like a log. Similes are used to create vivid images and help the reader understand the poet's feelings. In other cases, they are used to make comparisons.

Metaphor: Another popular poetic device in English literature is the metaphor. The metaphor compares one thing with another by saying it is something else or sometimes by saying it has some of the qualities of something else. For example, Love is a many-splendored thing. Or, He ate her heart out with his eyes.


In English poetry, syllables are essential. They help to create the rhythm and flow of the poem. A good poem will have a consistent rhythm that is easy for the reader to follow. This can be done by using various syllable counts in each line. However, this does not mean that all lines must be the same length.

It means the poem should be written with an even number of syllables. So a sentence like I am going to do homework would break down into syllables: I am going to do homework. See how there are three syllables per word? That gives the sentence a natural rhythm while maintaining an even count of syllables per line.


Another common characteristic of English poetry is assonance, which is the repetition of vowel sounds. This creates a musical effect that can help to add emphasis or create a particular mood. For example, the words sound and round have the same vowel sound so that they would be considered in assonance.

Also, consider these two lines from Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn: Fair youth beneath the trees. The repetition of the child gives this line an emphatic feeling. If another word had the same vowel sound, it would also be in assonance. Additionally, rhyme is another way poets create a sense of rhythm and balance within their poems.


An additional fun aspect of English poetry is onomatopoeia, or words that sound like what they mean. Onomatopoeia can be used to create an auditory image that brings a poem to life. It can also be used to add humor or lightheartedness to a poem. And finally, onomatopoeia can help create a mood or feeling in a poem.

For example, Robert Louis Stevenson's Requiem's first stanza includes rain, tears, and grief. The repetition of suffering sounds like a long moan, adding to the sense of sadness. In his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot uses onomatopoeia to depict a slovenly appearance by describing the greasy kid holding a parcel.

Silent Space

One characteristic of English poetry is the use of silent space. This can be used to create a feeling of suspense or to emphasize a specific word or phrase. A quiet room can also be used to indicate the passage of time. For example, It was early morning, but I had already been awake for hours.

In this sentence, there are two clauses, and the second clause contains two sentences. The speaker had already been awake for hours by the time it was early morning. If we remove all punctuation and white space from this sentence, it becomes one long sentence that conveys an entirely different meaning: It was early morning, but I had already been awake for hours.

Figurative Language

Figurative language is one of the most commonly used tools in poetry. It's a way to add depth and meaning to your words by comparing or using images. Figures of speech include similes, metaphors, personification, onomatopoeia, and Hyperbole. Poets use these techniques to create imagery for the reader that goes beyond what can be seen with just words on a page.

They help you see the world through someone else's eyes. For example, if I were writing about my dog, I might say My dog dances in circles instead of My dog walks if you have ever watched your pet jump around as if he is dancing without music, then you know how this makes you feel! The figurative language captures something more than simple action verbs do.

Have you ever read a poem or even tried to write one yourself and wondered why the writing seemed strange? This might be because you are unfamiliar with some of English poetry's characteristics. In the above article, look at twenty-five characteristics of English poetry, and learn what makes them unique from other types of English poems. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to identify English poetry in any form.

Learn about poets who write in the English language

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