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Lesson Plan

Formal Poetry

Formal verse is poetry that follows a set rhythm and rhyme scheme. Rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyming in the last words of each line of a poem. Here is an example excerpted from William Wordsworth:

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The poet narrates the awe-inspiring experience of viewing a field of daffodils. The poem is formal, that is, it follows a form in both rhythm and rhyme. The rhyme scheme developed has every other word rhyme for the first four lines and then the fifth and sixth lines rhyme. If each rhyme is designated with a letter beginning with "a," then the rhyme scheme is "ababcc." Also, the poem's lines follow a set rhythm. In each line there are four main stresses or beats. The stresses are marked in bold in the following line:

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

Poets call this rhythm with four beats "iambic tetrameter."

When assigning students to write a PicLit in formal verse on, use the Freestyle mode.