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How to Talk About Poetry in English

3 min read
21 March 2017
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We’ve all encountered poetry in our lives in one way or another. But how do poems help you learn English? Poetry is a great way to introduce and practice new vocabulary, language structure, and English culture. You can use poems to describe yourself, other people, or things you like. Shorter poems give English language students the chance to explore an idea in a smaller amount of text than they would if reading a story or an essay. There are so many types of poems – ranging from short to long – that you’re bound to find a poem or a poet that you enjoy!

But once you find that poem that really speaks to you, how do you talk to others about it? As 21 March is World Poetry Day, we’ve put together a list of common vocabulary terms you might come across when celebrating and discussing your favorite poems. Take a look and see how many of these terms you can incorporate into your every day English conversations.


Poetry Vocabulary terms



This is when several words next to each other start with the same consonant. For example: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.


A couplet is two lines of poetry that stand alone from the rest of the poem. Often, these two lines rhyme, but not always.

Free verse

This type of poetry does not stick to a particular structure, which means that the lines don’t necessarily have to rhyme and they may be different lengths.


This term refers to the descriptive language that creates a picture in the reader’s mind. Imagery is a very important technique of poetry.


The meter is the rhythmic structure of a poem, which means it is the way the poem sounds sounds when it is read aloud.


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Narrative poem

This style of poetry tells a story, and is often much longer than a regular poem. There are usually characters that interact, much in the same way they would in a work of fiction.


As the name would indicate, repetition is a technique in poetry in which the same word or phrase is repeated multiple times to create structure and emphasize a particular image or idea.


This type of poetry was commonly used by William Shakespeare in the sixteenth century. It has a very strict 14-line structure, where each line has exactly 10 syllables. The last 2 lines are usually a rhyming couplet.


A stanza is several lines in a poem that are grouped together, with a blank space above and below. It is a basic unit of a poem, and works in the same way that a paragraph does in fiction, or a verse does in a song.


Reading and discussing poetry is a great way to practice not only your comprehension of the language, but also your pronunciation skills and your ability to interpret meaning. Want to know more about poetry in English?


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