There are many different styles of poetry. Some styles rhyme and have a meter, while others do not. Free verse is a type of poetry where there is no fixed meter and the words do not have to rhyme. More formal styles include the sonnet, which must have 14 lines and be written in iambic pentameter, and the sestina, which has six stanzas of six lines each. Styles of poetry can also fall between free verse and the more formal styles, such a haikus and limericks.
A common form of the sonnet is the Shakespearean sonnet. Shakespeare's poems feature an ABAB rhyming scheme, meaning the last word of the first line rhymes with the last word of the third line. The typical Shakespearean sonnet consisted of three four-line stanzas and a couplet at the end. The final words of the couplet rhymed with each other.
Sonnets usually are written in iambic pentameter, meaning there are five feet, or iambs, per line and a total of 10 syllables. The poems usually have a specific structure for content as well. For example, in the first stanza, the poet usually establishes an argument. In the next, he builds on the description and metaphor, and in the third he adds a twist. The final two lines of the sonnet summarize the poet's argument.
One of the most complex styles of poetry is the sestina, a French form. Sestinas do not need to rhyme, but the last word of each line must be repeated throughout the poem. Six words are repeated throughout the poem. For example, the final word of the last line of the first stanza needs to be repeated as the last word in the first line of the second stanza. The last word of the first line of the first stanza is then repeated as the last word of the second line of the stanza.
After the six stanzas, sestinas finish with a three-line envoy. The lines of the envoy need to end with the first, third, and fifth end words. The other three end words are also used in the course of the envoy, though not in last position.
Other styles of poetry include the haiku, a non-rhyming poem consisting of three lines that have five, seven, and five syllables. Usually, haikus have something to do with nature and the seasons. Free verse does not rhyme either and relies on cadence rather than meter for rhythm. The limerick does rhyme and consists of five lines. It usually a funny or nonsensical poem.