One of the most beautiful things you can do with words is write poetry. Poetry helps you not only convey meanings, but also feelings. And if you add music to a poem, you have a beautiful song. I would like to share with you the first steps of writing poetry, the basic elements of poetry, and a few hints to help make your poetry more appealing.
Poetry cannot suddenly appear from nothing; it has a beginning. For some people, inspiration comes from a creative idea or something they have seen. Others get inspiration from things that have happened to them, or things that they have learned. Some people find ideas easily; others have more difficulty. A moment of inspiration is priceless, however it comes.
The next step is getting your thoughts down in a somewhat organized fashion. You will need to understand that even though your poem is short compared to a novel, it is a story in itself. Good poems have a moral, truth, or lesson behind them and sometimes possess such story characteristics as cliffhangers, climaxes, or resolutions. It is the poet’s job to gather details and order them in an interesting and concise fashion. You are going to need to collect whatever details pertain to what you are trying to portray. Some poets write down topics or facts that they want for their poem. Some make mental notes. Yet others find that writing the poem as soon as they get the inspiration is the best for them (although they risk the possibility of their poem being unorganized). It is important for you to decide what works best for you.
After that comes the writing and perfecting of your poem. Usually the most noticeable element of poetry is its rhyme. Some poets prefer strict rhyme, as in star and bar; other poets use a more loose rhyme, as in fare and shared. And when you write a poem, you have to decide what kind of rhyming scheme you want to use. Here is an example.
Before your face
I’ll find your grace
Your presence I shall know
You’ll take my pain
Your love shall rain
Your mercies shall be shown
The first two lines rhyme, the third and sixth lines rhyme, and the fourth and fifth lines rhyme, so this stanza’s rhyming scheme is aabccb. Let’s try this again.
From where comes hope? From where comes joy?
They only come from You
If I don’t have You in my life
Then, Yah, what would I do?
The rhyming pattern here is abcb. Usually the poet will use the same rhyming scheme throughout the whole poem, but some choose to change. When you are the poet, you get to decide.
Another important element of poetry is the foot. Foot is the order of accented syllables in a poem. Here are some basic kinds of feet.
–Iamb: a foot consisting of an unaccented syllable, then and accented one (e.g. display)
–Trochee: a foot that is the opposite of iamb–accented, then unaccented (e.g. ready)
–Anapestic: a foot of two unaccented syllables, then an accented one (e.g. happy day)
–Dactylic: a foot with an accented syllable, then two unaccented ones (e.g. joyfully)
The rhythm created by the feet in each line is called the meter of the poem. Now look at this stanza and carefully notice how many iambic feet (unaccented, then accented) are in each line.
Yehovah is my strength
He trains my hands for war
Why should I fear the fight?
It’s what He made me for
The iambic foot repeats three times in each line. The meter of the poem is then called iambic trimeter, with “tri” for three. Here is another stanza.
In jubilant praise
To El I will sing
He rescued my soul
Now He is my King!
Each line in this stanza has an iambic foot followed by an anapestic foot. In the last line, the iambic foot is “Now He” and the anapestic foot is “is my King.” Many poems are created by combining various types of feet in a line.
The poet uses feet, meter, and hard work to transform plain words into a rhythmic flow that makes the poem enjoyable. Rhythm helps your poem portray feeling, and appeals greatly to your readers. It also makes it easy to change your poem into a song because your poem already possesses a distinctive beat.
There are certain devises that make poems more enjoyable. One common devise poets use is personification. Notice how this stanza refers to time as if it is a woman.
My moments make me see
That time so loves to flee
I’d wish for time to stay
But time must have her way
Another trick to make your poetry appealing is alliteration–the repetition of a consonant sound. The top line of the last stanza is an example of this.
My moments make me see
Notice how many times the m sound is repeated.
Another device, similar to alliteration, is assonance. Assonance is the repetition of the same vowel sound. You can notice this in the third line of the next stanza.
My Father, now I seek
The Maker of all things
I pour my soul before you
Please give to me your peace
Repeating sounds by either alliteration or assonance also lends to the rhythm and beauty of your poem.
Poets also like to use simile, the comparing of one thing to another. It creates a good mental picture for your readers and helps them understand what you are trying to portray.
My soul is a bird
Once trapped in a snare
But lo, my dear King
Released me from there
Here the soul is compared to a bird in a snare as the poet attempts to provide a vivid picture of what her King has done.
Another important thing to keep in mind when you write a poem is that poetry is an art, meaning that you can do whatever you want with your poem. You do not have to obey the generic rules of meter or rhyme to have a good poem. Poets throughout the ages have used many different styles of poetry. Some poets like to use free verse, which often has no organized stanzas, rhyme scheme, or meter. Whatever style you choose, you must understand that not everyone is going to like it. People often get very particular about what styles they like. But do not be discouraged, for when we make something beautiful, it should be for Yeshua’s glory, not our glory.
Writing is not easy, and it takes much practice. But it always takes work and time to make something beautiful. My advice is to never give up and to always imagine. Good poets are almost always thinkers or dreamers.
For some people poetry is a helpful creative outlet and a good way to get thoughts and feelings out of our brains. It is often a source of solace or delight. Yet others go through life without even considering writing a poem. If that is the case for you, I hope that this post has opened your eyes to the world of poetry and maybe encouraged you to visit that world.