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Difference Between Poem and Poetry

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Poem and poetry are words that people usually used interchangeably, but that does not imply they both mean the same thing. Poem is the artistic way of arranging words that contain meaning and musical meaning, while poetry is the creative way used by poets to encrypt their thoughts, feelings, imaginations in a way that may be difficult for readers to comprehend.

What is a Poem?

To understand a poem, one must understand the basic foundation of literature. A poem is a structure on which poetry is built upon. So, it is safe to say, a poem is a written piece containing a combination of speech and song. The main reason for writing a poem is to pass across a message, which is why a poem is made by grouping different words together, known as stanzas.


What is Poetry?

Poetry is one of the three branches of literature, with the other two being drama and prose. Poetry is a genre of literature in which the writer attempts to express thoughts, feelings, or tell a story in a concentrated and lyrical arrangement of words. To write poetry, the writer must be able to arrange words in rhyming lines, while the emphasis on the rhyming line is based on syllabic beats.


What Is Meter in Poetry?

Poetry is the embodiment of many processes such as rhyme and meter. Though in poetry, rhyme is important, but also of great importance is meter.  In poetry, meter helps the poet impose specific length and emphasis on a given line of poetry.

Types of Poetry


Sonnet is one of the oldest forms of poetry. It was invented around the 13th and 14th centuries by Dante and Francisco Petrarch but was popularized by William Shakespeare. The principle guiding sonnet is that it must be a rhyming poem with nothing more or less than fourteen lines. To write a sonnet, the poet must keep to the rule of using the iambic meter in each line and line-ending rhymes.


Limerick poetry involves the usage of distinctive rhythm for each of the five lines. Thus, Limerick poetry has five lines of often humorous content following the AABBA rhythm.


Haiku poetry has its origin in Asia, and it is one of the oldest forms of poetry. Haiku poetry is popularly known for its precise punctuation marks and syllables on its first three opening lines. Here is the breakdown of Haiku poetry, the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven. In contrast, the third line has another five, bringing the total syllable to seventeen.

haiku example


Like writing a narrative essay, a narrative poem is the type of poetry where the poet narrates an event in the form of a poem. In writing a narrative poem, the poet can use diverse characters and be dramatic. Also, there is no standardized rule on the line of narrative poetry. The poet can choose to write short or long, while the story can be simple or complex.


Epic poetry is a type of poem where the poet uses poetry to celebrate the accomplishments and adventures of a hero. The hero can be a male or female. The accomplishment can be in any sphere of life, for example, military, business, education, or sport.


Couplet poetry has standard two lines which rhyme and form a unit, and it can be written to be part of the body of the poem.


This type of poetry is written so that the poet uses poetry to pay tribute to its subject. However, the subjects that an Ode is written about can be dead or alive.


This type of poetry shares similarities to Ode. However, elegies poetry is mostly about morning, or the reflect upon a loss. But in some cases, elegies may be written about redemption or consolation.

Differences Between a Poem and a Poetry

The two terms poem and poetry are sometimes used interchangeably because a poet writes both. However, to be qualified as a poet, such an individual must have been writing poetry consistently. So, to identify the difference between a poem and poetry, one must understand the rules guiding the two concepts.

Here are some of the differences between poem and poetry:

  • A poem represents the fundamental units of poetry, while the combination of different poems is poetry. So, poetry is the superstructure, while a poem is a substructure.
  • A poem is the means of communicating one's thoughts through imaginative words to share ideas, while poetry means the art of making poems.
  • Poem is the art form, poetry on the other hand, is the composed work.
  • Poem is the end process of poetry, while poetry itself is the use of metaphor, symbol, and rhythm to create a mood
  • Poem is the arrangement of words, while poetry uses that word to arouse emotions and influence the mood.

Comparison Chart: Poem Vs Poetry

ImaginationA poem is a primary imaginationPoetry is the combination of a different poem, which is why poetry is secondary imagination.
FocusPoem deals with a subjectPoetry deals with object
CompositionPoem is the unit and foundation work of poetry.The art of writing poems is poetry.
Work unitA poem represents an individual unit of work.Poetry is the combination of different poems.
Relation to other works of artPoem stands alone and has a distinctive feature that separates it from prose.In some cases, poetry may be a part of the prose.

Similarities between poem and poetry

  • Poem and poetry are similar in the sense that they are both works of literary art.
  • A poet is responsible for writing both poems and poetry.
  • Without poem, there can't be poetry because a poem is the foundational work of poetry.
  • Poem and poetry are similar because the same rules guiding poems can be applied to poetry.
  • Both poem and poetry have similar objectives, which are using imaginative characters and metaphors to pass a message and influence the reader's mood.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you write a poem?

Writing poems is a skill that can be learned, although a lot are born with this. Still, you can grasp the art of writing poems through some major steps. Before writing a poem, you should know your starting point and the style or form of poem you resonate with. There are tons of books out there that will inspire you to get creative with words. Then, write for a simple audience, read your poem out loud and go back to take a fresh look at your poem after a short break.

Must a poem always rhyme?

Many people have grown up believing that if it doesn't rhyme, then it's not a poem. That's one reason why a lot of children's poems rhyme or involve a lot of repetition. However, this is not what makes a poem. Since this is more about communicating imaginative ideas and emotions with words, some of the best poetry in the world has absolutely no rhymes in them. Therefore, a poem mustn't always rhyme.

What makes poem and poetry so different?

At first glance, it's easy to claim that poem and poetry are one and the same. However, there are some peculiar differences between the two. While poetry involves using words to evoke a feeling from the writer of the piece, a poem is the result of that process of putting together a creative literary piece. Thus, one is a process, and the other is a result.


If you would really love to delve into the world of poems and poetry, there are hundreds of literary pieces that will help you get started. However, knowing the difference between these two first is undoubtedly the right way to go.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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