Illuminating yet mysterious, exciting yet elegant: classical poetry never goes out of style. From the lyrics in people’s favorite songs to Robert Frost’s nature-themed poems to Basho’s haiku to Shakespeare’s sonnets to Li Bai’s Tang Dynasty poems to Homer’s epics, the rhythm is there, the rhyming is usually there too—this is the living and breathing culture of classical poetry.

Writing classical poetry is surprisingly easy for beginners and students, as you will see below. The first step to really connecting with it, however, is for you to find a poem or poet, dead or living, who resonates with you:

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Teaching Tools

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Start Writing

Students of any age thrive when they have a well-structured environment with clear boundaries and common sense rules on the one hand and opportunities for wide-open creative engagement on the other hand.

Classical poetry, also known as formal poetry or traditional poetry, is perfect for this. That’s why it was used as the cornerstone of education in past centuries, as well as in different cultures. It can be as simple as counting syllables in the line (like haiku writing) and, optionally, leads on to more challenging and fun techniques such as rhyming or alliteration. For the ambitious students, it could lead to the use of the English language’s natural stresses to form metrical patterns, such as iambic pentameter, as well as more complex ones such as the one used in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.”

Here are resources for introducing beginners or students of any age to classical poetry:

You may also dive right in to the specific forms:

Haiku

Limericks

Pantoums

Riddles

Rondeaus

Rondeau Redoublés

Rubaiyats (Persian form)

Sestinas

Sonnets

Terza Rimas

Villanelles

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Further Reading

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One Response

  1. James Sale

    Great resources – well done, Evan – this is all becoming very substantial. It takes a long time to build a cathedral and you have to start one piece at a time! Then people say, “Wow, lucky you, that doesn’t fall down – how did you manage that?’

    Reply

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