Literature: Poetry

Poetry is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. It consists largely of oral or literary works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ from ordinary prose.

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

It may use condensed or compressed form to convey emotion or ideas to the reader’s or listener’s mind or ear; it may also use devices such as assonance and repetition to achieve musical or incantatory effects. Poems frequently rely for their effect on imagery, word association, and the musical qualities of the language used. The interactive layering of all these effects to generate meaning is what marks poetry.

Poetry can be divided into several genres, or categories.

Narrative poetry is poetry that tells a story. Just like a literary narrative, there’s a plot or some sort of action taking place. One popular type of narrative poetry is epic poetry. An epic poem is a long narrative poem that usually follows the life and adventures of a hero. The ancient Greeks loved their epic poetry and produced great works that we are still fascinated by today, such as Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey.”

Dramatic poetry If you’ve ever read a play by William Shakespeare, you’re reading dramatic poetry. Basically, dramatic poetry is written with the intention of being performed. Any drama written in verse which is meant to be spoken, usually to tell a story or portray a situation. The majority of dramatic poetry is written in blank verse. Other forms of dramatic poetry include, dramatic monologues, rhyme verse and closet drama. Important dramatic works include those by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlow

Lyric poetry is the type of poetry that comes to mind for most people when they think of what a poem is. Lyric poetry doesn’t necessarily tell a story, have a plot, or follow a logical progression. Lyric poetry is also an emotional writing focusing on thought and emotion – can consist of a song-like quality. Subdivisions include elegy, ode and sonnet. Lyric poetry does not attempt to tell a story. It’s more about using elements like rhyme and rhythm to create an overall effect or feeling. A good way to remember this is to think of lyrics in music, because at times, lyric poetry is set to music.

The Language of Poetry

Rhyme: Rhymes make a poem more musical.

Example –

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have something to keep

Images: A poem is a series of word pictures. We se them with our imaginations not with our eyes

Theme: The main topic or issue of the poetry.

Tone: When you talk to someone, you can change the meaning of what you’re saying by changing your tone. Poetry has a tone and this is the tone of the voice of the writer or orator.

Mood: The main emotion of the story or poem is called mood.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere of the poetry is linked to the settings of the poetry.

Characteristics of Poetry

  • Imaginative
  • Creative
  • Descriptive and vivid language that often has an economical or condensed use of words chosen for their sound and meaning
  • Meaning is enhanced by recalling memories of related experiences in the reader or listener
  • Provokes thought
  • Causes an emotional response: laughter, happy, sad …
  • Uses figurative language (personification, similies, methaphors…)
  • Imagery where the reader/listener creates vivid mental images
  • Often has rhythm and rhyme
  • Often includes words and phrases that have a pattern made with rhythm and rhyme.
  • Story in verse
  • Can have physical and grammatical arrangement of words usually enhance the reader’s overall experience

STANZAS: Stanzas are a series of lines grouped together and separated by an empty line from other stanzas. They are the equivalent of a paragraph in an essay. One way to identify a stanza is to count the number of lines. Thus:

  • couplet (2 lines)
  • tercet (3 lines)
  • quatrain (4 lines)
  • cinquain (5 lines)
  • sestet (6 lines) (sometimes it’s called a sexain)
  • septet (7 lines)
  • octave (8 lines)