Five Short Poetic Forms You Should Try

Short poetic forms are amazing for more than one reason. You can read most of them in under a minute and they are fun challenges that a poet should attempt from time to time, to sharpen their wits.

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When it comes to writing poetry, brevity can be a real struggle. Short forms force you to express ideas in a compressed manner, which often leads to highly emotive and saturated writings.

Moreover, it is a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zones and try something new. It all helps you be a better poet in the long run. Check out this list of five short poetic forms that you must try:

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Of all short poetic forms, haiku is probably the most popular. It is a Japanese form of poetry with three lines that do not rhyme. Traditionally, haiku follows a strict syllable count of 5-7-5 in the three lines, but modern poets are taking the liberty to break this rule.

Haiku usually focus on the beauty of nature or of the simple moments in life. You can write about other themes too. Start by reading some classic examples to get an idea of the form. Here’s one from a master haiku poet from Japan,Matsuo Bashō

“The Old Pond”

An old silent pond

A frog jumps into the pond—

Splash! Silence again.


This poetic form is written in a single stanza and it follows an AABBA rhyme scheme. Traditionally, it follows a strict anapestic trimeter in lines one, two and five and an anapestic dimeter in lines four and five.

An anapest is a unit of three syllables in the pattern of ‘unstressed-unstressed-stressed’. A collection of three such units would make an anapestic trimeter. A simple visualisation would look like this-


da-da-dah– da-da-dah-da-da-tang

da-da-dah– da-da-dap

da-da-dah– da-da-tap

da-da-dah– da-da-dah-da-da-bang

Limericks are usually written on funny, quirky and even nonsensical childish themes. Read this one from Edward Lear, who is known as the father of limerick for having shaped this form-

There was an old man with a beard,

Who said: ‘It is just as I feared!

Two owls and a hen,

Four larks and a wren

Have all built their nests in my beard.


A nonet is a nine-lined poem with descending numbers of syllables in every following line. It starts with nine syllables in the first line and the count goes down until the last line with only one syllable.

Writing a nonet is quite simple; there is no limitation on the number of words or themes as long as it follows the syllable count. Check out this example by Andrea Dietrich:

Life might be compared to a Nonet;

if words be deeds, how we flourish

in the first several lines!

But the lines, like time, start

to dwindle midway.

Last word; last line –

Too fast we

meet the


You can also write a reverse nonet by starting with one word in the first line and then adding words subsequently.


Diamante is Italian for ‘diamond’, so we can derive that this poetic form is written in a diamond shape. It is quite a modern poetic form that Iris Tiedt developed in 1969.

This form is made of seven lines with one word in line 1 and 7, two words in line 2 and 6, three words in line 3 and 5 and four words in line 4. This is what the structure looks like once you align it centrally:


Adjective, Adjective

Verb, Verb, Verb

Noun, Noun, Noun, Noun

Verb, Verb, Verb

Adjective, Adjective


The nouns in line 1 and 7 can be synonyms or antonyms. Depending on this, the poem can be called a synonym diamante or an antonym diamante. Check out this example of a antonym diamante by Jezebel Myschka:

Sunrise –

fresh, joyful,

brightening, rousing, warming,

Eastern welcome. Western farewell,

blushing, calming, dimming,

contented, weary,

– Sunset.


A harlequin can look like a close cousin of diamante poems, but it is more liberal. With this poetic form, you are not restricted by the number of words. They do not have to be specific parts of speech. The only restriction is the syllable count.

Harlequins are stories in nine lines and twenty-five syllables. The syllable count goes like 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1. This renders them a diamond shape as well but they are actually quite different from diamante poems. Here’s an example by Carolyn Hastings, the creator of this form:



scratch my head

brainstorm, mind-map

count those syllables

select, arrange

diamond shape



Short poetic forms are wonderful games for developing your poetic genius. Having to stick to the rhyme, meter and syllable count makes you think harder. With such restrictions, you come up with creative arrangements of language that you would not otherwise. So, pick up your pen and start writing right now.

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