Painters, musicians, writers and others have long been inspired by space. In ancient times, storytellers looked to the skies, found patterns, or constellations, and created tales about what they saw. Today, there are countless plays, books, songs and other creative works all about space. These works of art have helped inspire many NASA scientists and engineers to pursue their careers in space exploration. And now, their work is inspiring future poets, filmmakers and artists. Maybe it will even inspire you!

In this activity, you'll learn about different kinds of poems and find out how to create your own poetry inspired by space. Keep reading to get started.

› Educators, explore how to turn this into a lesson for students

An open journal and a pen on a wood table.

Materials

Graphic showing kids running in a field with a stars and galaxies above them.

1. Think about space

List some things you know about space, planets or space travel. Now, list some things you want to find out about these topics.

Close-up image of blue, tan and green swirling storms in Jupiter's atmosphere.

2. Get inspired

Visit some of these websites to explore interesting places, watch videos, look at pictures and get inspired!

Images, Videos & More!

All About Earth & Space

All About Missions


About the image: Elaborate atmospheric jets swirl in Jupiter's northern mid-latitude region in this image captured on April 10, 2020, by the Juno spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill processed this detailed, color-enhanced image from the spacecraft's JunoCam instrument. › Full image and caption
Overhead image of a rusty red and tan Mars surface with a poem overlaid.

3. Choose a poem style

Choose a style or form of poetry you’d like to write from the list below. Click here to see example poems written by space explorers at NASA.

Forms of Poetry

  • Acrostic – An acrostic poem is one in which a word or phrase is spelled out vertically using a letter from each line. Typically, an acrostic will use the first letter of each line to spell a vertical word or phrase. More advanced acrostics use the last letter of each line or a letter in the middle of the line to spell the vertical word or phrase.
  • Concrete, pattern or shape poetry – This type of poetry uses the layout of words, typographic elements and other visual cues to convey meaning that relates to the subject referred to in the poem.
  • Elegy – An elegy is a poem of a serious, somber, sad or reflective nature, often a lament for the dead.
  • Epigram – Epigrams are short and witty poems that are sometimes a couplet or quatrain (four-line stanza), but can be just a single line. They can be satirical and are often powerful statements with funny endings.
  • Epitaph – An epitaph is a poem that mourns a death, real or imagined, usually intended to appear on a tombstone. Though serious, epitaphs can also be short and funny.
  • Free verse – Free-verse poetry is not constrained to rules of meter, rhythm and rhyme.
  • Haiku – Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry consisting of 17 syllables in three verses. The first and third lines have five syllables, and the second has seven syllables. Traditionally, haiku focus on images from nature, are written in the present tense and use direct language emphasizing simplicity.
  • Ode – An ode is a structured lyric poem, delivering praise or glory to a person, thing or event.
  • Rhyming couplet – A rhyming couplet is a pair of lines with the same meter, or syllabic rhythm, that end in a rhyme. A rhyming couplet poem can have as many pairs of lines as the writer wishes but must have at least one pair.
  • Sonnets – Traditional sonnets are 14-line poems written in iambic pentameter (10 syllables per line/five pairs of stressed/unstressed syllables per line). The most common form of sonnets, Petrarchan, divides the poem into two stanzas, an 8-line octave and 6-line sestet, using the rhyme scheme abba, abba for the first stanza and cdecde or cdcdcd for the second. The first stanza presents a question, observation or charge, while the second stanza provides an answer, clarification or counterargument, depending on what the first stated.

    The second major type of sonnet is the Shakespearean sonnet. In this form, three quatrains (four-line stanzas) provide a position, with a couplet (two-line stanza) providing a conclusion, amplification or refutation of the previous three stanzas. It follows the rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg.
  • Tanka – Another form of Japanese poetry, a tanka uses metaphor, simile and personification in five lines. Lines one and three have five syllables, while lines two, four and five have seven syllables. Tanka are often written about nature or seasons and evoke strong emotions like love or sadness.
Person writing a poem in a journal.

4. Get writing

Write a poem about the space topic of your choice. Try to include something you knew about the topic and something you learned in your research.

A burst of reds, yellows, greens, blues and purples can be see in this image of the Orion nebula created using data from the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes.

5. Explore more and keep on writing

Keep learning about space and space exploration. Then, write another poem in the same style or choose a different form of poetry!


About the image: This vibrant image of the Orion nebula was created using data from NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. The scene, which combines Spitzer's infrared view with Hubble's visible-light view, revealed new details about this region where stars are born. › Full image and caption