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Learn standardized forms of poetry.

“There is no freedom in art.” -- Thomas Stearns Eliot


Form is not why you write the poem. It is the canvas upon which the poet paints words, a framework to suspend an idea from. In a serious poem, the form should seem invisible, or it should particularly support the poem as if to say, "How could this have been written in any other form?" Dylan Thomas' "Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night" benefits from the structured repetition of the villanelle form. A poet who uses only one form is like a painter who has only one brush, or one size and type of canvas. The words give the poem color, but the form gives it shape and texture. Your goal is to paint or draw in every medium and on every conceivable surface. You must learn to paint a mural and a miniature, an ode and a haiku. The experienced poet has a number of forms at his command that he might choose the right form for the moment, for the feeling, for the story.

Even free verse is a form, but it is just one form to use. The poet who lives in free verse alone has never lived the life of a poet.

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