Wesley Koswara | Staff Writer 

From the days of Homer’s “Iliad,” composed in confounding dactylic hexameter, to the popularity of today’s free verse or prose, the art of poetry has been a mainstay of literature in cultures all around the world. As is fit for such an ancient and widespread practice, there are as many styles of poetry as there are poets. Listed here are just a few:

Epic Poetry

Speak, Memory—

Of the cunning hero,

The wanderer, blown off course time and again

After he plundered Troy’s sacred heights.



Of all the cities he saw, the minds he grasped,

The suffering deep in his heart at sea

As he struggled to survive and bring his men home

But could not save them, hard as he tried—

The fools—destroyed by their own recklessness

When they ate the oxen of Hyperion the Sun,

And that god snuffed out their day of return.

—“The Odyssey,” Homer

As the name suggests, epic poetry is long and often follows the heroic journey of one or more protagonists. Common themes include deific intervention, superhuman feats of strength or skill and stylized language common to other literature of the native culture. Examples include the Babylonian “Epic of Gilgamesh,” the old English “Beowulf” and Virgil’s “Aeneid.”


There was an Old Man with a beard,

Who said, “It is just as I feared! —

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard!”

—“There was an Old Man with a Beard,”

Edward Lear

Limericks are often humorous and lighthearted poems which adhere to strict syllabic and rhythmic conventions. Composed of five lines, the first and second typically rhyme with each other, followed by the third and fourth, which also rhyme. The final line ties all the verses together, and usually rhymes with the first and second line.


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature’s changing course, untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,

Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

—“Sonnet 18,” Shakespeare

Coming from the Italian sonetto, or “little poem or song,” the sonnet traditionally signifies a poem composed of 14 lines following one of several strict rhyming schemes. The two most foundational forms are the Petrarchan Sonnet and the Shakespearean Sonnet.


A bright and pleasant                                    Kokochiyoshi

Autumn day to make                                     aki no hiyori o

Death’s journey                                              shide no tabi

—Death poem of an 18th century haiku poet, Fukyu


At long last I am leaving                               Tsui ni yuku

In rainless skies, a cool moon –                 minazuki suzushi

Pure is my heart                                            mune kiyoshi

—Death poem of an 18th century haiku poet, Senseki

Popular from feudal Japan to modern North America, the haiku is a poem consisting of three lines arranged in a five/seven/five syllable format. Traditional haiku forms focus on creating associations between images, and include a seasonal reference. Death poems by poets,samurai and Buddhist monks in ancient Japan would often be written in haiku form.

This article’s end:

A haiku for a farewell Shalom, go in peace