Writing a rhyming poem can be difficult.

It requires a meter and rhythm plus the rhyme in order to be a readable poem.

What is rhythm in poetry? Think of a song you like. What is it about that song that makes you tap your feet or want to dance? It is the rhythm of the song. In a similar way, all poems that are not written in free verse have rhythm, or a beat, as well. We also call that beat meter. Each specific syllable in a line of poetry is called a foot. This is also referred to as a unit of meter.

Types of Meter

There are five main types of beats, or meter, that we use in poetry. Here, we will take a brief look at each type. In poetry, rhythm is expressed through stressed and unstressed syllables. Take the word, poetry, for example. The first syllable is stressed, and the last two are unstressed, as in PO-e-try. Here are the most common types of meter in the English language:

  1. Iamb: The Iamb is a pattern of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable, as in the word: en-JOY.
  2. Trochee: The trochee is one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable, as in the word: CON-quer.
  3. Spondee: Spondee is a pattern of two stressed syllables in poetry. The pattern may cross over from word to word in a poem. An example of spondee might be: GO! GO! Both 1-syllable words are stressed.
  4. Anapest: The anapest is a combination of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable. Take this phrase: to the NORTH. The first two syllables are unstressed, while the final syllable is stressed.
  5. Dactyl: The dactyl is the opposite of the anapest, in that it has one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables as in the phrase: FLY a-way. These metrical units, or feet, make up the beat or rhythm of poetry. (Source: https://bit.ly/3jRRaRY)

Remember songs that have a heavy beat and the words match the beat, that is usually a poem that has been written for that specific song, or else the song was built around the poem’s meter. Rhyming words help the poem’s meter to make sense.

Children’s poetry usually has the best rhythm and rhymes to study. Check out these resources.

children’s.poetry archive.org You can listen to the poems on this site.

https://americanliterature.com/poems-for-kids A list of Children’s poetry to be read.

As you read and study the Children’s poems pay attention to stressed words. Listen to the rhythm of each poem. Do you notice a difference as you read from poem to poem?


by Joyce Kilmer

Trees was written in 1913, inspired by the beauty of the natural world, written one afternoon in Kilmer’s family home in Mahwah, New Jersey. He published it as the titled work in his collection, Trees and Other Poems (1914). Its simple, lyrical verses have since been parodied by celebrated poets, notably, by Ogden Nash.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree

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