Odes, elegies, pastorals and epics are among the more popular genres of poems, each dealing with distinct subject matter. Popular poetic forms include the sonnet, the ballad, blank verse and free verse.
Odes address a person, place, thing or idea, usually in a celebratory manner. Elegies mourn a death but often end with some sort of consolation. Pastorals describe idyllic and peaceful rural settings, and epics usually deal with heroes and events of great significance.
The sonnet is a poetic form consisting of 14 lines, usually containing a change in thought during its final lines. Sonnets vary with regards to rhyme scheme but are often divided into three major categories: the Petrarchan sonnet, the Italian sonnet and the Shakespearean sonnet.
The ballad is popular narrative style, often accompanied by music. It alternates four-stress and three-stress lines in rhymed quatrains, following the rhyme scheme ABCB. Blank verse was especially popular during the Renaissance and consists of unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter; Shakespeare's plays primarily consist of blank verse. The majority of published poetry since the 20th century is written in free verse, a series of unrhymed, unmetrical lines that follow the natural rhythms of speech.