person sitting in front of a record player

Incorporating Sound Into Modern Poetry

Poetry is an innately lyrical writing form, often relying on carefully chosen prose to creatively communicate authentic emotions. Incorporating sound into your poems can further drive these characteristics home, bringing the work to life. You might think of Shakespeare’s classic use of iambic pentameter, for example, but there are other ways to weave techniques like repetition and rhyme into your modern poetry.




Utilizing repetition in your poetry is a simple, straightforward way to add a unique cadence to your poems. Repeating the same phrase in subsequent stanzas effectively emphasizes a feeling or message. When spoken out loud, repetition provides the listener with an emotive sense of rhythm. 


Rupi Kaur expertly employs repetition in her acclaimed book Milk and Honey.


love is not cruel

we are cruel

love is not a game

we have made a game out of love


Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur


what i miss most is how you loved me. but what i didn’t know was how you loved me had so much to do with the person i was. it was a reflection of everything i gave you. coming back to me. how did i not see that. how. did i sit here soaking in the idea that no one else would love me that way. when it was i that taught you. when it was i that showed you how to fill. the way i needed to be filled. how cruel i was to myself. giving you credit for my warmth simply because you had felt it. thinking it was you who gave me strength. wit. beauty. simply because you recognized it. as if i was already not these things before i met you. as if i did not remain all these things after you left.


Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur




Although modern poems are typically written in free verse, incorporating rhyme integrates sound while helping your work stand out. Check out this poem by Morgan Harper Nichols for some rhyming inspiration.


Engage in the long, faithful work.

Surrender the need of striving

to be the best or always right

and focus instead on leaning into Light,

that reveals all things.

All that is good

and all that stands to be corrected,

and redirected.

It takes kindness to understand this, for

even though kindness is a beautiful word.

it does not mean that nothing gets disrupted.

Sometimes a way of thinking must be interrupted

in order for kindness to truly thrive.

And grace is unmerited favor

but it might not always look the way you want it to.

It will invite you out in the open

and it will also reveal what has been broken.

You might have to unlearn the way you thought things would be.

You might find that being undone

is the best way to move on, humbly, mindfully, wholly.


For how liberating it is

to pursue wholeness over perfection,

finding that grace is more than a beautiful word,

but a daily act of being undone, an awakening, a direction.


–Morgan Harper Nichols


We hope these poems encourage you to experiment with sound in your work. Interested in honing your craft? Check out our writing tips category for even more inspiration.