25 Essential Elements of Poetry

Poetry is a form of writing that allows you to create powerful images and evoke strong emotions. In order to create this effect, there are a few important poetic elements that you’ll need when writing a poem.

Here is a list of all the elements of poetry that you will come across reading poetry. Poets can also use these elements to add a distinctive feel to their poems or just create a certain literary effect.

The most important Elements of Poetry

There are some poetic elements that you see over and over in a variety of poems across the world, and in the different types of poetry.

Theme and Subject of the Poem

25 Essential Elements of Poetry

Just like a movie, novel and song has a theme, you will find that poems also a distinctive theme, subject and red thread that runs through the text. There are hundreds of different poetry themes. Some of the most popular poetic themes are nature, love, beauty, immortality, death, spirituality, immortality and war.

Getting an understanding of the theme of a poem can help readers follow the piece much easier. Plus, you can easily grasp the message of the poem.

Theme and subject are usually used interchangeably when describing a poem. However, a theme could also apply to a collection of poems, while a subject refers to only a single poem. You will also find that the subject often relates to the type of poem. For example, an ode is a praise, often about a loved one or an important figure or object. 

Stanza and Lines of a Poem

As part of the structure of a poem, the majority of classic poems are written in lines (with a line break at the end) and stanzas. Stanzas are a group of lines that convey a certain message or meaning.

Although stanzas are typically not perceived as an element in traditional poetry, the use of lines and stanzas is changing with contemporary poetry (for example, in conceptual poetry). This means that line breaks become more important and modern poets dissolve the traditional stanza structure. This makes stanzas and lines of any size an essential element used in modern poems.

Tone and Mood

The mood and tone of a poem are essential to create the right image in your writing. A melancholic and dark mood in a poem can evoke similar emotions of melancholy in the reader.

Mood and tone are closely entwined, although there are distinct differences. The tone of the poem is related to how a poet brings his message across, and the mood is the overall feeling that a reader gets from the poem. Both are essential elements that poets use in all their writing to shape the reader’s feelings and impression of the poem.

As a poet, you can create any kind of mood, from pleasant and cheery to sad, anxious and angry. Using the breadth of human emotions is a powerful technique to connect with your readers.

Similes and Metaphors

Metaphors and similes are another two important methods that poets use to describe emotions, thoughts and ideas to create strong images.

As a rule of thumb, metaphors indicate that one thing is another, for example, “he had a heart of gold”. On the other hand, a simile compares one thing with another, for example, “you are as cold as ice”.

Rhyme and Rhyme Schemes

Rhyme is the most important element in poetry. There are a variety of different rhymes that dictate how the poem flows and what meaning it has.

Rhymes are essentially similarly sounding words. This could be end-rhymes, such as similar words at the end of a line. There could also be rhyming words at the beginning and in the middle of a line of a poem.

The different rhyme schemes create the rhythm and tone of the poem which affects the meaning of the piece. As a poet, it’s worth playing with different types of rhyme and rhyme schemes to find out what works best for your poem and your poetic style.


Metre is the syllabic pattern in a poem. The metre of a poem is a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables.

The majority of traditional verse forms require a distinct verse metre. The most important metre forms are iamb, trochee, dactyl, anapest, spondee and pyrrhic. Poets use these metrical schemes and patterns to create images, ideas and meaning in a poem.

Here are some classic examples of poetic meter.


While metre creates a specific syllable pattern, syntax allows poets to form meaningful word patterns. The choice of the right words is essential in poetry, prose, fiction and many other forms of literature. However, syntax often plays a much greater role in poetry because poets use a lot fewer words than other writers. This means that the few words you use must be powerful enough to convey your intended meaning.

The diction and syntax help you achieve a variety of artistic effects, including the mood and tone of your poem.

Just like other elements of poetry, the syntax used by contemporary poets is changing as not only lines are broken up, but also entire words are broken apart. This creates a pausing effect where the reader has to consider what is being said here. It’s great for abstract poetry and concept poetry.


One element that is often overlooked in poetry is the speaker. We all know that prose always has a type of speaker but many forget that poetry also features a narrative speaker telling the story of the poem. Usually, the poet himself/herself is the speaker, assuming an imaginative character. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Poets either use the third-person speaker or a first person-speaker, both which are also popular in fiction. This being said, a poet may also choose to use the second-person perspective to address the audience directly. This is often a very compelling technique to convey a message.

Rhythm And Sound

Creative elements of poetry

The sound and rhythm in writing poetry are essential because it is what makes poetry so interesting. The lyrical rhythm resembles music and the rhythm of a musical instrument. This is what fascinates us so much in this form of spoken music.

Rhythm is especially important when you consider that many poems would be read aloud in the past. That’s when the piece would convey emotions and create a powerful impression with an audience.

As a rule of thumb, there are two types of rhythm in poetry: consistent rhythm and erratic rhythm. The consistent rhythm type contributes to a peaceful and calm feeling in a poem. It also dictates the pace of the piece. While many poems with consistent rhythm are easy to read aloud, the reader needs to be careful to avoid any monotony which can quickly make the poem sound boring.

On the other hand, poems with erratic rhythm dictate a more agitated and nervous state, creating a foreboding or uneasy feeling. Erratic rhythm is most popular in experimental poetry because it helps to create a special dynamic in a poem.

Creative Elements of Poetry

In addition to the nine important elements of poetry above, there are also more creative elements that poets use to create meaning, a distinctive mood or shape the image they want to convey.


An alliteration is the repeating of certain sounds or words. Alliterations are usually two or more words that sound similar. This could be “great green grass” or “beautiful bewildering butterfly”.


An allusion is a reference to a historical figure, myth or an event in the past. That’s where the word “allude” comes from. It’s essentially a subtle hint. Take a look at these great allusion examples.


Ambiguity is a creative, poetic element that uses a phrase, word or statement which has two or more meanings. Ambiguity is often used to point at different ideas and thoughts the reader may not have considered before. It’s a great technique for poets to make their reader think outside the box.


Anaphora is a creative element in poetry where a single word or more words repeat at the beginning of the next line. I found these anaphora figure of speech examples very useful.


Assonance is another poetic element that repeats individual vowel sounds in different words that build a phrase. I use a lot of assonance methods in my conceptual poetry because it creates a more cohesive meaning.


Couplets are two lines that end with a rhyme. There are plenty of other rhymes and rhyming schemes that you can use as creative elements in your poems. Just take a look at Shakespeare’s famous rhyming couplets.


An enjambment is a poetic term used to describe when two lines aren’t separated by punctuation. This allows the poet to create a distinctive rhythm and flow in a poem.


A hyperbole is a poetry term describing a phrase, line or stanza that greatly exaggerates. This helps to convey powerful emotions and stoke a reaction from the reader.


Imagery is a broad term that you can use for almost any form of literary writing. In poetry, imagery refers to creating an almost realistic image with words. Poets do this by using a great variety of creative elements that often refer to the five senses, including taste, touch, smell, sound and sight.


A motif is similar to a theme. It is the central image or thought in a poem. Motives in poetry are a long journey, love, war or death.


Onomatopoeia is simply when a word in a poem sounds exactly like what it’s describing. This could be words like crack, bang, boom or snap. Onomatopoeia is often used to disrupt the flow within a poem.


An oxymoron is a poetic term that describes two contradictory statements. Some examples of oxymorons are “deafening silence” and “visible darkness”.

Pathetic Fallacy

A pathetic fallacy is when a poem describes the weather and conveys a certain atmosphere and mood at the same time. For example, a stormy and rainy climate indicates sadness and melancholy.


Personification describes when inanimate objects are portrayed to have human feelings and thoughts. This poetic element helps the writer to make these lifeless objects more vibrant.


Symbolism is a broad term that you can find almost anywhere in literature and art. In poetry, a symbol conveys a theme, message, thought or idea within a poem. For example, the use of roses and hearts in a poem symbolise love and romance.


Synaesthesia is not just a psychological phenomenon where people can see music or feel colours but it’s also a creative element in poetry. Poets use synaesthesia to combine different elements of our five senses, such as “cold colours” or “warm smell”.

Frequently asked questions

What are the most important elements of poetry?

The most important elements in a poem are the theme, tone and mood, stanzas and lines, metaphors, syntax, rhythm, speaker, metre and rhyme.

Which poetry elements are important in poetry analysis?

For a good analysis of a poem, you will need to review the rhyme scheme, rhythm, themes, syntax, diction, meter and the poem’s form and structure.

What is the significance of diction as an element of poetry?

Poetic diction describes how language is used in poetry. This refers to the poem’s syntax, word choice, the poetic form and poetic elements.

Final Thoughts

There are so many different elements that poets can use to convey meaning and evoke powerful emotions in their readers. The poetic elements mentioned above help writers capture the essence of a poem and they are handy tools to bring your message across.