By- Angela Padrón
Many students learn about forms of poetry during National Poetry Month. But do they know where and how these poems originated? Here’s an explanation of the history of some of the more common forms:
Haiku – There are many forms of poetry, but one of the most intriguing and popular ones for students to learn about is haiku. Haikus originate from Japan and are usually written about nature. They consist of three lines with five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables, respectively. Students can write or type their own poems and decorate them with images or drawings to further describe their meaning.
Sonnet – Sonnets are poems with fourteen lines—with each line traditionally being ten syllables long—that follow a particular rhyming pattern. This poetic form has been around for centuries and is found in several cultures including English and Italian, with Shakespeare being the most famous English sonnet writer.
Ode – Odes were first developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The word “ode” comes from the Greek word aeidein, which means “sing” or “chant.” Odes are lyrical poems without a particular meter. They are written as a dedication to a particular object, person, idea, or event.
Ballads – The origin of ballads goes back to folk tales told in Europe. They were initially passed down orally through the generations until they were later transcribed. Ballads are like plot-driven songs that tell stories of a person and deal with religious themes, love, tragedy, politics, crime, or other related topics. They are sometimes accompanied by music, but can be read just as poem as well.
Ghazal – Ghazals are common in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Bengali cultures. They have five to fifteen couplets that rhyme and contain a refrain at the end of the second line. Each line has the same meter and a specific rhyming pattern among the couplets.
Limericks – Although limericks are often associated with Ireland, their origin leads back to England or France, where they were used often in children’s poetry. They consist of just five lines, with lines one, twp, and five rhyming with each other, and lines three and four rhyming with each other. Limericks have a particular rhythm and syllabic pattern that make them sound like a spoken song.
Other forms, like the traditional Russian poetry Chashtushka or the Pathya Vat from Cambodia, are not as well known. However, during National Poetry Month, students can find it fun to learn about not only the most popular forms of poetry but also where different poetic forms come from.