Formal Poetry

Rhyming is not a prerequisite for poetry. In fact, rhyming poetry was popular for a relatively short period in a relatively specific part of the world. Poetic forms are generally culturally defined, and more often involve cadence, word play, and organization of themes. The ancient Hebrews emphasized repetition and contrast, the Japanese liked syllabic symmetry, and the Anglo-Saxons made extensive use of alliteration and assonance.

Asserting that one form of poetry is better than another is no more than snobbery, but to claim the opposite (that true poetry has no form) is equally unreasonable and narrow. Of course poetry has form: how else could it communicate?

Understanding poetry's different modes is an important step toward understanding poems themselves. Do you have to know that a Shakespearean sonnet always has three quatrains and a couplet to enjoy it? No, but it helps, as does knowing that the final two lines constitute a volta, a shift in attitude or imagery toward resolution of the problem presented in the previous stanzas.

It also helps to know not all sonnets follow this form, and that a sonnet isn't really a sonnet if every line isn't exactly ten syllables long, following a stressed/unstressed pattern known as iambic pentameter. In turn, iambic pentameter is an important term to know if you plan on writing a villanelle, since its lines follow the same scheme. The interrelatedness of terminology can be both helpful and frustrating, but wallowing around in a sea of roundels, enjambment, slant rhyme, and dactyllic hexameter will be nothing but frustrating unless you learn what all those words mean.

Some people think it's not worth the effort and never bother. Which is fine, if you don't intend to read or woo women. If poems only existed to put words together in audibly attractive ways, such a dismissive attitude would be fine. If, however, poems are messages to the soul, being able to interpret them and identify one type from another becomes much more valuable.

One could even say imperative. Most of the world's greatest poets have adopted the popular or accepted forms of their cultural context, and whether they were aware of it or not when writing, these forms influenced not only the messages, but the way those messages were expressed. Certainly, one can enjoy Keats without understanding all the technical elementsin his work; but one can enjoy Keats even more when those elements are understood.

We carry books that explain terms, books that equip readers for interpretation and analysis, even books that help you write your own poems. More importantly, we carry books of poems by the practitioners of the elements and forms discussed in those instructional works. In the end, there's no absolutely wrong way to read poetry, just wrong ways not to read it.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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92 Items found Print
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
from Sweetwater Press
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry
by Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping, eds.
from Anchor Books
for 9th-12th grade
in Poetry Anthologies (Location: POET-ANTH)
$17.00 $9.00 (1 in stock)
Annotated Milton
by John Milton
from Bantam Books
for 11th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
$6.95
Canterbury Tales
Penguin Classics
by Geoffrey Chaucer (edited by Nevill Coghill)
from Penguin Classics
Medieval Poetry for 8th-12th grade
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$11.00
Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer (edited by Peter Beidler)
from Bantam Books
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$5.99
Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer, Translated by David Wright
from Oxford University
for 9th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$8.95
Charge of the Light Brigade & Other Poems
Dover Thrift Editions
by Alfred Tennyson
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$4.00
Child's Garden of Verses
by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Tasha Tudor
from Simon and Schuster
Poetry for 1st-5th grade
in Poetry for Children (Location: POET-CHIL)
$19.99
Child's Garden of Verses
Arcadia
by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Charles Robinson
from Princess House Books
Poetry for 1st-5th grade
in Poetry for Children (Location: POET-CHIL)
$9.00 (1 in stock)
Child's Garden of Verses
by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Charles Robinson
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Poetry for 1st-5th grade
Children of Hurin
by J. R. R. Tolkien
from Houghton Mifflin
Fantasy for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$16.99
Collected Lyrics of Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
from Harper & Row
for 11th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats
by W.B. Yeats, illustrated by Jack B. Yeats
from Franklin Library
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
from Harper & Row
for 11th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
by Edgar Allan Poe
from Modern Library
for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$25.00
Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats
by John Keats
from Modern Library
for 11th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
Complete Poems of Christopher Marlowe
by Christopher Marlowe
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
$2.50
Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
by Emily Dickinson
from Little, Brown & Company
for 7th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$23.99
Complete Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
from Penguin Classics
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
Complete Sonnets
Dover Thrift Editions
by William Shakespeare
from Dover Publications
Lyrical Poetry for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
$4.00 $2.00 (3 in stock)
Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
by Edgar Allan Poe
from Barnes & Noble
for 8th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Dante's Inferno
by Dante Alighieri (translation by Anthony Esolen)
from Modern Library
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$16.00
Dante's Paradise
by Dante Alighieri (translation by Anthony Esolen)
from Modern Library
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$16.00
Dante's Purgatory
by Dante Alighieri (translation by Anthony Esolen)
from Modern Library
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$16.00
Divine Comedy
by Dante Alighieri (translation by John Ciardi)
from New American Library
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$21.00
Divine Comedy
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Melville Best Anderson and illustrated by William Blake
from Heritage Press
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Divine Comedy
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Allan Mandelbaum
from Everyman's Library
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$35.00
Divine Comedy I
Penguin Classics
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy Sayers
from Penguin Classics
Medieval Allegory/Poetic Epic for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$16.00
Divine Comedy II
Penguin Classics
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy Sayers
from Penguin Classics
Medieval Allegory/Poetic Epic for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Divine Comedy III
Penguin Classics
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy Sayers & Barbara Reynolds
from Penguin Classics
Medieval Allegory/Poetic Epic for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Divine Comedy set
Penguin Classics
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy Sayers and Barbara Reynolds
from Penguin Putnam
Medieval Allegory/Poetic Epic for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$39.95
Divine Comedy Volume 1: Inferno
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Robert Pinsky
Revised from Farrar & Rinehart
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$14.00
Divine Comedy Volume 2: Purgatory
by Dante, translated by Mark Musa
from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$16.00
Divine Comedy Volume 3: Paradise
by Dante, translated by Mark Musa
Revised from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$18.00
Dr. Faustus
by Christopher Marlowe
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
$4.00
Early Poems
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$3.50
Elfin Knight
by Edmund Spenser & Toby Sumpter
from Canon Press
for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
$20.00
Emily Dickinson On Love
by Emily Dickinson
from Barnes & Noble
for 7th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
English Romantic Poetry
Dover Thrift Editions
by Stanley Appelbaum, editor
from Dover Publications
for Adult
in Poetry Anthologies (Location: POET-ANTH)
$6.00
English Victorian Poetry
by Paul Negri, ed.
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry Anthologies (Location: POET-ANTH)
$6.00
Essay on Man and Other Poems
Dover Thrift Editions
by Alexander Pope
from Dover Publications
for Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$4.00
Eugene Onegin
by Alexander Pushkin
from Heritage Press
for 10th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$3.00
Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves
by Roy Maynard & Edmund Spenser
from Canon Press
Allegory/Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
$20.00
Gawain Poet Complete Works
by Anonymous
from W. W. Norton and Co.
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Ghostly Tales and Eerie Poems
Illustrated Junior Library Series 4
by Edgar Allan Poe
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Ghostly Tales and Eerie Poems
Illustrated Junior Library Series 3
by Edgar Allan Poe
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Goblin Market and Other Poems
by Christina Rossetti
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$4.00
Idylls of the King
by Alfred Tennyson
from Penguin Classics
Epic Poetry for 8th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$17.00
John Brown's Body: A Poem
by Stephen Vincent Benet
from Heritage Press
for 9th-Adult
Pulitzer Prize Winner
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
La Vita Nuova
by Dante Alighieri
from Dover Publications
Medieval Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$3.00 $1.50 (2 in stock)
Major Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
from Oxford University
for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$15.95
Major Works of Lord Byron
by George Gordon, Lord Byron
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$18.95
Major Works of William Wordsworth
by William Wordsworth
from Oxford University
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$18.95
Narrative Poems
by C. S. Lewis
Reprint from HarperOne
Narrative Poetry for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$14.99
Ogden Nash Set - 4 Volumes
by Ogden Nash
from Little, Brown & Company
for 9th-Adult
in Clearance: Fiction (Location: ZCLE-FIC)
Paradise Lost
Penguin Classics
by John Milton
2003 Revised from Penguin Classics
Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
$12.00
Paradise Lost
by John Milton, illustrated by Gustave Dore
for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
Paradise Lost
A Norton Critical Edition
by John Milton
3rd revised from W. W. Norton and Co.
Formal Poetry for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
Paradise Lost
by John Milton
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
$8.00
Paradise Lost
A Norton Critical Edition
by John Milton
3rd revised from W. W. Norton and Co.
Formal Poetry for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
$29.95
Paradise Lost and Other Poems
by John Milton
from Walter J. Black, Inc.
Formal Poetry for 10th-Adult
in Walter J. Black Classics Club (Location: VIN-LITWJB)
Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained
by John Milton
from Signet Classics
for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
$7.95
Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained
by John Milton
from Borders Classics
for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
Paradise Lost in Plain and Simple English
by John Milton
from CreateSpace
for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
Poems
by C. S. Lewis
Reissue from HarperOne
Lyrical Poetry for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$13.99
Poetry of Robert Frost
by Robert Frost
2nd edition from Holt McDougal
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$21.00
Portable Dante
by Dante Alighieri, translated by Mark Musa
from Penguin Classics
Medieval Allegory/Poetic Epic for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$23.00
Portable Edgar Allan Poe
by Edgar Allan Poe
from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$22.00
Rime of the Ancient Mariner & Other Poems
Dover Thrift Editions
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$3.00 $1.50 (1 in stock)
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
by Edward FitzGerald
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 11th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
International Collector's Library
by Edward FitzGerald
from International Collectors Library
for 11th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Selected Canterbury Tales
Dover Thrift Editions
by Geoffrey Chaucer (edited by J. U. Nicolson)
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$4.00
Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson
Dover Thrift Editions
by Emily Dickinson
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$3.00
Selected Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Reprint from Penguin Classics
for 8th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$17.00
Shakespeare's Sonnets
by William Shakespeare
from Barnes & Noble
Lyrical Poetry for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
Six American Poets
by Joel Conarroe, ed.
from Vintage Classics
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry Anthologies (Location: POET-ANTH)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Song of Hiawatha
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Frederic Remington
from Bounty Books
for 7th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Song of Hiawatha and Other Poems
Reader's Digest World's Best Reading
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Frederic Remington, Howard Chandler Christy, et al
from Reader's Digest
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience
by William Blake
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$3.00
Sonnets from the Portuguese
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
First Thus from Hallmark Publications
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Sonnets from the Portuguese
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
from Peter Pauper Press
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Spirits In Bondage
by C. S. Lewis
Reissue from HarperOne
for 11th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$10.99
Stories in Verse
by Max Hohn
from Calvert School
for 7th-12th grade
in Poetry Curriculum & Resources (Location: LIR-POET)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Theogony and Works & Days
by Hesiod
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$11.95
Theogony and Works & Days
by Hesiod & Theognis, translated by Dorothea Wender
from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Ancient Literature (Location: LIT1-ANC)
$14.00
Tristram
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
from Macmillan
for 9th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement C. Moore
from International Resourcing Services
for 9th-Adult
in Christmas & Advent (Location: HOLIDAY)
Warrior Princess
by Edmund Spenser, edited and annotated by Roy Maynard
from Canon Press
for 10th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
$20.00
Waste Land, Prufrock & Other Poems
Dover Thrift Editions
by T.S. Eliot
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$2.50
World War One British Poets: Brooke, Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg and Others
by Various Authors
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Poetry Anthologies (Location: POET-ANTH)
$3.50
Yeats Reader
by W. B. Yeats
from Charles Scribner's Sons
for 10th-Adult
in Poetry (Location: POET-GEN)
$22.00