Poetic Baby Names: Madrigal, Calliope and Ode

Poetic Baby  Names: Madrigal, Calliope and Ode

March has World Poetry Day and April is Poetry Month, so this seems like a perfect time to turn to the topic of poetic baby names.

Of course one obvious source would be the many wonderful surnames of noted poets, such as Auden, Frost, Lorca, Emerson, Tennyson and Poe.

Another possibility is lyrical words associated with poetry and song, some of which have long been used for babies. These include Melody (now #144), which has been around since the 1940s; Harmony (#191) hit the charts in 1997, and has been heard for characters on several TV shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Lyric (#281), used for girls and occasionally for boys by a couple of musical celebs; and the 21st century hit Cadence (#376 now, as high as 199 in 2007).

But what if you’d like something a little more subtly poetic. Here are a few unusual related word names you might consider.


This is a verse form consisting of a line of twelve syllables, found mostly in French heroic poetry. Alexandrine is one of the more unusual of the female Alex names. It has been a royal name in Denmark and Prussia, and is close to the birth name of Queen VictoriaAlexandrina. If you’re looking for an uncommon but accessible four-syllable girl name, this would make a distinctive choice.


An Italian poetic form used in the 13th to 15th centuries, Ballata feels balletic as well as poetic: very much en pointe.


In Greek mythology, Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, who bestowed her gifts on kings and princes. This rhythmic name –also a musical instrument associated with the merry-go-round–entered the US Top 1000 just last year. There have been Calliopes in the soap opera Days of Our Lives and also in Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill. Calliope was the name of the narrator of Jeffrey Eugenides novel Middlesex; Patricia Arquette used it as a middle name for her daughter Harlow in 2003.


A madrigal is a short lyrical poem intended for multiple singers that originated in the Italian Renaissance. As a name—lively and with some readymade nicknames, Madrigal has made appearances in several children’s and YA books.


An ode is a lyrical poem, usually addressed to and praising a singular subject (could be an individual, an event or even a nightingale.) The Hunger Games actress and musician Jena Malone gave her son the strong name Ode Mountain in 2016.


This archaic word for poetry stems from the French Po__ésie. Alice Taylor and Cory Doctorow have a daughter named Poesy Emmeline, there is a Canadian singer who goes by the mononym Poesy and in Harry Potter, French model and actress Clemence Poesy played Fleur Delacour. This could make a delicate and distinctive alternative to Posy—but could also be confused with it. Poesia, the rhythmic Italian word for poetry, could avoid that confusion.


A name for the parent who wants to skip the specific names of poets and cut right to the generic. Creatively named Soleil Moon Frye has a daughter Poet Sienna Rose, and it has also occasionally been used for a boy. A perfect choice, especially in the middle, for the child of writers or lovers of poetry. And Po makes an adorable unisex nickname.


From the time that ancient Roman Horace (b. 65 B.C.) penned his famous Ars Poetica or “The Art of Poetry,” poets have used this form to examine the act of writing poetry itself. It could make for a lovely poetic girl’s name.


The word for rhyme in Spanish and Italian is also an Arabic name meaning white antelope. Rima was the name of the rain forest nature girl who spoke the language of animals and birds played by Audrey Hepburn in the film version of W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions. It has a midcentury Greenwich Village vibe.


A poetic form dating back to the medieval troubadours of Spain and France. Not surprisingly, it has 6 stanzas of 6 lines–plus a final triplet. Sestina would be perfect for a sixth daughter, nn Tina.


The word sonnet –a poem of 14 lines, derives from the Italian sonetto, meaning little song. And although Shakespeare is its most celebrated practitioner, there have been many other accomplished sonneteers, including Milton, Wordsworth and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Forest Whitaker, an early proponent of word names, called his now grown daughter Sonnet Noel in 1996.

Here are some other poetic forms and terms that could conceivably take a rhythmic leap onto birth certificates.













Rondeau, Rondel







About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.