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Guides: Poetry

Last Updated: Monday March 21 2005 11:06 GMT

Poetry versus prose

Poet Simon Armitage
Poet Simon Armitage
The chapters of a book or a news report are written in normal sentences or prose.

But poems look very different. They are written in lines, rather than sentences and the normal rules of language or grammar are often broken.

Here are some more ways that poems differ from prose:

  • They are often split into verses or stanzas.

  • Each stanza is split into lines and each line is made up of a number of beats or syllables.
    To count them, break the words down into single pulses.
    E.g. count-ing syll-a-bles is like mon-i-tor-ing your heart beat (14 syllables).


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