Stylistic analysis: Literary styles in poetry

styles in poetry

Stylistic analysis helps us get a more profound meaning from a text. It enables us understand what the writer of the text meant by letting us view it from their point. Analyzing style is fundamental, particularly in poetry, where you don’t take everything literally.

Style, as used generally in literature, carries many literacy devices the author uses to achieve uniqueness in their work. They include features like the point of view, imagery, diction, voice, syntax, and how the flow of narration. Style is a natural part of any work written in prose, making it a vital element. In poetry, it is through forms that the true meaning of a text is revealed.

Style in poetry

What is style in poetry, therefore? It is the choices that a writer makes to create the meaning of the poem. Many things comprise style in a poem, and it is up to the reader to identify them, for the poem to make sense. If you are trying to understand a poem written by someone you don’t know, consider choices such as short and long verses, varying punctuation, omitting punctuation, or the rhythm. A poet also uses specific poetic options such as diction, form, and subject matter. Style contributes to the reading experience, the form, and the overall nature of the poem.

Style, in poetry, is an expansive matter. It evokes different responses from different experts. It can mean everything in a poem. There are some more in-depth and specific choices, like the use of dactylic hexameter for one poet could mean the author style. If you are new to poetry, such terms may seem overwhelming.

Common styles in poetry

Rhythm or Cadence

Poetry as an art form has a wide range of rules that should be applied or broken, depending on the author’s desire. Rhythm is one of the most important criteria used in poems of all ages. It is born from the stress placed on each syllable in every line. In some verses, you will discover a natural flow, while others tend to flow with a less conversational cadence.

Poets arrange their work as ‘meters;’ they contain both stressed and unstressed syllables. Such poems are usually those that adhere to English-speaking rhythms, as in spoken dialogue. The most common meter includes iambic pentameter, which has stressed/unstressed syllables.

Consider the work of William Shakespeare, who is, without a doubt, one of the most quoted authors whose work uses iambic pentameter. Look at these lines from Romeo and Juliet:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any name would smell as sweet.”

The words in this poem flow with a natural rhythm because of the use of the iambic pentameter. Everyone has a balanced approach that works for them. You should try out different to achieve a good audience connection.


How many words are in each line, and how long are the lines? How many stanzas do the poems have? Poems come in varying lengths, starting from a few words to extreme ones, like epic poems. Length may come automatically depending on the types of poetry the author is working on. For instance, a haiku contains three lines, while a sonnet has 14 lines. Consider using a method you are most comfortable with unless you are a student working on a specified project.

Rhyme scheme

Rhyme is a poetic approach that kids learn at a very early age. For instance, the familiar case ditty holds many rhyming words;

Hickory, Dickory, dock

The mouse ran up the clock…..

People who don’t have much experience in poetry often assume a poem does not make sense unless there is rhyme. But many poems don’t contain rhyme scheme. This means, while rhyme is essential, it is not a must.


Poems don’t follow the same punctuation rules as in standard sentences and paragraphs. Even so, some poets are more comfortable with the guidelines they learn from prose writing. The best way to determine your approach to punctuation is by asking whether;

- The punctuation will help the reader in understanding the poem

- The punctuation will confuse the reader or

- The punctuation echoes the mood of the poem.

With these questions, you can decide to add commas, capitalization, quotation, and so on. Try experimenting with different approaches.


Onomatopoeia is simply defined as a word imitating a sound. Where we say a single picture can speak a thousand words, onomatopoeia gives words to draw the picture by creating sounds. Readout loud words like buzz, moo, and beep; you can feel the music in them.


Starting a number of words with the same sound is one of the most familiar styles, called alliteration. It is used mostly to create sufficient description; for instance, the crazy crackling crops.


Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds with changing consonance. Consider a sentence like tilting at windmills, the vowels repeat within each syllable, sounding the same.

Similes and metaphors

Similes compare one thing directly to another, while a metaphor is a word or phrase used to mean another. In similes, comparison words such as ‘like’ and ‘as’ are applied. Metaphor is a bit hard to figure out.

Style in action

The following is extract of the poem “Mr. Bleaney by Philip Larkin

Mr. Bleaney

Philip Larkin

'This was Mr. Bleaney's room. He stayed

The whole time he was at the Bodies, till

They moved him.' Flowered curtains, thin and frayed,

Fall to within five inches of the sill,


Whose window shows a strip of building land,

Tussocky, littered. 'Mr. Bleaney took

My bit of garden properly in hand.'

Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook


Behind the door, no room for books or bags 

'I'll take it.' So it happens that I lie

Where Mr. Bleaney lay, and stub my fags

On the same saucer-souvenir, and try

Notice the following:

- Graph logical features: Rhyme scheme ( the poet uses Ababa style, and iambic rhythm), systematic formation ( hyphens used), Unusual Capitalization, frequent use of the pronoun “I,” punctuation.

- Phonological features: End rhyme in each stanza, alliteration on ‘f, ‘a' ‘s’ and ‘b,’ repetition, harsh consonantal sound, onomatopoeic words, tone, and assonance. 

Apart from the features mentioned above, also notice varying grammatical features, including structural and lexical words, adjectives, verbs, nouns, pronounsstyles in poetry, and other syntactic elements. They each play a part in creating meaning in the poem. 


Every author prefers a different approach in delivering his art from another. The style creates uniqueness and can be used to identify the poet. If you new in the field try to see what others have done and grow your style from it. 


1074 Words


Jan 23, 2020


3 Pages

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