Top 10 Concrete Poem Examples

Poems that make shapes using words are known as concrete poems, and these 10 concrete poem examples are some of the most famous.

Poems don’t always rhyme, and sometimes they create art visually rather than through the written word. Concrete poetry uses the space of the words to convey meaning, rather than the words themselves. 

Whether the typed lines create a picture or pattern, this poetic form is a true work of art. The colors, letters, words, and the print itself create a visual experience that creates the idea in the mind of the reader. Concrete poem examples are often part of children’s literature, but they can show up in classic works, too.

To better understand this type of pattern poetry, take a look at these excellent examples of concrete poems. 

Concrete poem examples

1. “The Mouse’s Tale” by Lewis Carroll

This poem, found in Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, actually forms the shape of a mouse’s tail on the page. The misspelling in the title of “tale” is intentional because it is the tale of a mouse’s tail. Different printings interpret this visual poetry differently, but it remains one of the most famous examples of concrete poetry in modern writing.

Concrete Poem Examples: The Mouse's Tale
“The Mouse’s Tale” by Lewis Carroll is one of the most famous examples of concrete poetry in modern writing

2. “Easter Wings” by George Herbert

“Easter Wings” takes the shape of a butterfly or even an angel’s wings turned on their side. The name is fitting, as the poem talks about how God reaches out to man to create new life.

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

George Herbert

3. “Forsythia” by Mary Ellen Solt

The poem “Forsythia” by Mary Ellen Solt is written to look like the branches of the plant. In fact, this art form is more about the shape of the words than the words themselves. 

Forsythia
This art form is more about the shape of the words than the words themselves

4. “Vision and Prayer” by Dylan Thomas

The unique shape of “Vision and Prayer” by Dylan Thomas creates the shape of an hourglass. This shape poem fits well, as it talks about life and death. The shape also a rise and fall feeling as the stanzas get smaller and larger through each verse.

i

W h o
A r e  y o u
Who   is   born
In   the   next   room
So   loud    to   my   own
That  I  can  hear  the  womb
Opening   and    the    dark   run
Over the ghost and the dropped son
Behind  the  wall  thin as a wren’s bone ?
In  the  birth  bloody  room  unknown
To  the  burn  and  turn  of  time
And  the  heart  print  of  man
Bo w s   n o   b a p t i s m
  Bu t   d a r k   a l o n e  
   Blessing       on    
The  wild
Child.

Dylan Thomas

5. “Poem in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree” by George Starbuck

In “Poem in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree,” Starbuck creates the image of a tree, filling the poem with visual words that create the image of a holiday tree. It even has an asterisk at the top, using the typography to resemble the look of a star at the top of the tree.

*

O

fury-

bedecked!

O glitter-torn!

Let the wild wind erect

bonbonbonanzas; junipers affect

6. “The Altar” by George Herbert

Another George Herbert poem, this religious poem takes on the shape of an altar as the writer talks about the sacrifice of his Lord and the sacrifice of hearts that religious individuals should give.

  A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears,
 Made of a heart and cemented with tears:
  Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workman’s tool hath touch’d the same.
                   A HEART alone
                   Is such a stone,
                  As nothing but
                  Thy pow’r doth cut.
                  Wherefore each part
                  Of my hard heart
                  Meets in this frame,
                  To praise thy name:
       That if I chance to hold my peace,
 These stones to praise thee may not cease.
   Oh, let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
     And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.

George Herbert

7. “Swan and Shadow” by John Hollander

The words of this shape poetry create the look of a swan floating on the water, with its reflection below. The reader knows instantly what the image is when looking at the poem, even without reading any of the words.

Swan and Shadow
The words of this shape poetry create the look of a swan floating on the water

8. “r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r” by E.E. Cummings

E.E. Cummings regularly uses typeface, punctuation, and even spelling to get his readers to think, and this poem is no exception. The words, at first, seem meaningless, but in fact, it appears to show the chaotic movements of a grasshopper in the way the words are on the page.

r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r
It appears to show the chaotic movements of a grasshopper in the way the words are on the page

9. “Silencio” by Eugen Gomringer

Silencio is more visual art than it is poetry. It creates a box using just the word “silence,” with empty space in the middle. The shape of the poem conveys the meaning, inviting the reader to fill in the middle, or the silence, with their own subject matter. 

            silence silence silence
            silence silence silence
            silence             silence
            silence silence silence
            silence silence silence

Eugen Gomringer

10. “This Crosstree Here” by Robert Herrick

This crosstree here is a religious poem by 19th-century poet Robert Herrick. It displays the shape of the cross of Christ while talking about the atonement made on that same tree.  

This Crosstree Here
This crosstree here is a religious poem by 19th-century poet Robert Herrick

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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