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Poetic forms and techniques


- Poetic form as the name say guided by the alphabetical order. Usually every line of stanza starts with the first letter of the alphabet, followed by a successive letter until the last letter is reached. Earliest examples are found in Hebrew poetry (numerous examples are in the Hebrew bible), but the form was frequently used in other ancient cultures as well usually when some sort of sacred ritual was performed (prayers, psalms, hymns and other).
Nowadays abecedian poems are usually used as mnemonic devices and word games.
Acrostic is a form derived from the abecedian. It spells words or names (or sometimes entire song is contained in it) trough the first letter of each line.
The intent is to reveal the concealed content or a thought...
Here is an example in William Blake's "London" - third stanzas first letters of each line spell HEAR emphasizing the horrid sounds.

I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.


It is one of the worlds oldest poetic technique.
The term comes from Greek it refers to a parallelism created when successive lines all start with the same word or two words usually resembling a litany. It is used in numerous Biblical psalms, but most masterful examples are found in the writings of William Shakespeare in both his plays and poems, but also in other poets, mainly the ones who studied Greek poetry.
The example can be found in the same Blakes song, mentioned above, in the second stanza -

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:


Ballads are the product of the centuries old European folklore. Originally ballads were sang usually accompanied with some musical instrument. They were a peace of folklore and before they were written (in England it was the XV century during the Renaissance) they were preserved orally. One generation listened to their elders when they sing, and than they sang the same songs to their children. Subject is usually religious theme or tragic song, love song or the song about some event from local life.
This basic ancient form of ballade evolved to writer's sport. Good example is William Wordsworth who wrote numerous ballads, and Samuel Tailor Coleridge's tale of the cursed sailor on a ship in the storm "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" song is too long so I will leave a link http://www.poetrynook.com/poem/rime-ancient-mariner-0

CENTO or (collage poem)

From Latin word for "patchwork". It is a poetic form made by using lines from poems already written by some other poet. A true cento is made entirely from lines of another poets, but another form of it is most common, where poet will borrow a single or just few lines of some other poet and mix them in his own work.