This article is about the art form.
For other uses, see Poetry (disambiguation).
"Poem", "Poems", and "Poetic" redirect here.
"Love poem" redirects here.
For the EP, see Love Poem (EP).
For the IU song, see Love Poem (song).
Poetry (derived from the Greek poiesis, "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often 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.
Some of the earliest written poetry in Africa occurs among the Pyramid Texts written during the 25th century BCE.
Early poems in the Eurasian continent evolved from folk songs such as the Chinese Shijing; or from a need to retell oral epics, as with the Sanskrit Vedas, the Zoroastrian Gathas, and the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Poetry uses forms and conventions to suggest differential interpretations of words, or to evoke emotive responses.
Kindred forms of resonance may exist, between individual verses, in their patterns of rhyme or rhythm.
Much modern poetry reflects a critique of poetic tradition, testing the principle of euphony itself or altogether forgoing rhyme or set rhythm.
In an increasingly globalized world, poets often adapt forms, styles, and techniques from diverse cultures and languages.
Some scholars believe that the art of poetry may predate literacy.
Others, however, suggest that poetry did not necessarily predate writing.
The oldest surviving epic poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh, dates from the 3rd millennium BCE in Sumer (in Mesopotamia, now Iraq), and was written in cuneiform script on clay tablets and, later, on papyrus.
A tablet #2461 dating to c. 2000 BCE describes an annual rite in which the king symbolically married and mated with the goddess Inanna to ensure fertility and prosperity; some have labelled it the world's oldest love poem.
An example of Egyptian epic poetry is The Story of Sinuhe (c. 1800 BCE).
Other ancient epic poetry includes the Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey; the Avestan books, the Gathic Avesta and the Yasna; the Roman national epic, Virgil's Aeneid (written between 29 and 19 BCE); and the Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Other forms of poetry developed directly from folk songs.
The efforts of ancient thinkers to determine what makes poetry distinctive as a form, and what distinguishes good poetry from bad, resulted in "poetics"—the study of the aesthetics of poetry.
Some ancient societies, such as China's through her Shijing (Classic of Poetry), developed canons of poetic works that had ritual as well as aesthetic importance.
More recently, thinkers have struggled to find a definition that could encompass formal differences as great as those between Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Matsuo Bashō's Oku no Hosomichi, as well as differences in content spanning Tanakh religious poetry, love poetry, and rap.
Classical thinkers in the West employed classification as a way to define and assess the quality of poetry.
Notably, the existing fragments of Aristotle's Poetics describe three genres of poetry—the epic, the comic, and the tragic—and develop rules to distinguish the highest-quality poetry in each genre, based on the perceived underlying purposes of the genre.
Later poets and aestheticians often distinguished poetry from, and defined it in opposition to prose, which they generally understood as writing with a proclivity to logical explication and a linear narrative structure.
This does not imply that poetry is illogical or lacks narration, but rather that poetry is an attempt to render the beautiful or sublime without the burden of engaging the logical or narrative thought-process.
This "romantic" approach views form as a key element of successful poetry because form is abstract and distinct from the underlying notional logic.
This approach remained influential into the 20th century.
During this period, there was also substantially more interaction among the various poetic traditions, in part due to the spread of European colonialism and the attendant rise in global trade.
In addition to a boom in translation, during the Romantic period numerous ancient works were rediscovered.
20th-century and 21st-century disputes
Some 20th-century literary theorists rely less on the ostensible opposition of prose and poetry, instead focusing on the poet as simply one who creates using language, and poetry as what the poet creates.
Yet other modernists challenge the very attempt to define poetry as misguided.
The rejection of traditional forms and structures for poetry that began in the first half of the 20th century coincided with a questioning of the purpose and meaning of traditional definitions of poetry and of distinctions between poetry and prose, particularly given examples of poetic prose and prosaic poetry.
Numerous modernist poets have written in non-traditional forms or in what traditionally would have been considered prose, although their writing was generally infused with poetic diction and often with rhythm and tone established by non-metrical means.
While there was a substantial formalist reaction within the modernist schools to the breakdown of structure, this reaction focused as much on the development of new formal structures and syntheses as on the revival of older forms and structures.
Postmodernism goes beyond modernism's emphasis on the creative role of the poet, to emphasize the role of the reader of a text (hermeneutics), and to highlight the complex cultural web within which a poem is read.
Today, throughout the world, poetry often incorporates poetic form and diction from other cultures and from the past, further confounding attempts at definition and classification that once made sense within a tradition such as the Western canon.
The literary critic Geoffrey Hartman (1929–2016) used the phrase "the anxiety of demand" to describe the contemporary response to older poetic traditions as "being fearful that the fact no longer has a form", building on a trope introduced by Emerson.
Emerson had maintained that in the debate concerning poetic structure where either "form" or "fact" could predominate, that one need simply "Ask the fact for the form."
This has been challenged at various levels by other literary scholars such as Bloom (1930–2019), who has stated: "The generation of poets who stand together now, mature and ready to write the major American verse of the twenty-first century, may yet be seen as what Stevens called 'a great shadow's last embellishment,' the shadow being Emerson's."
Main article: Meter (poetry)
Rhythm and meter are different, although closely related.
Meter is the definitive pattern established for a verse (such as iambic pentameter), while rhythm is the actual sound that results from a line of poetry.
Prosody also may be used more specifically to refer to the scanning of poetic lines to show meter.
The methods for creating poetic rhythm vary across languages and between poetic traditions.
Varying intonation also affects how rhythm is perceived.
Languages can rely on either pitch or tone.
Some languages with a pitch accent are Vedic Sanskrit or Ancient Greek.
Metrical rhythm generally involves precise arrangements of stresses or syllables into repeated patterns called feet within a line.
In Modern English verse the pattern of stresses primarily differentiate feet, so rhythm based on meter in Modern English is most often founded on the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables (alone or elided).
Old English poetry used a metrical pattern involving varied numbers of syllables but a fixed number of strong stresses in each line.
The chief device of ancient Hebrew Biblical poetry, including many of the psalms, was parallelism, a rhetorical structure in which successive lines reflected each other in grammatical structure, sound structure, notional content, or all three.
Thus, Biblical poetry relies much less on metrical feet to create rhythm, but instead creates rhythm based on much larger sound units of lines, phrases and sentences.
Classical Chinese poetics, based on the tone system of Middle Chinese, recognized two kinds of tones: the level (平 píng) tone and the oblique (仄 zè) tones, a category consisting of the rising (上 sháng) tone, the departing (去 qù) tone and the entering (入 rù) tone.
Certain forms of poetry placed constraints on which syllables were required to be level and which oblique.
The formal patterns of meter used in Modern English verse to create rhythm no longer dominate contemporary English poetry.
Jeffers experimented with sprung rhythm as an alternative to accentual rhythm.
Main article: Scansion
In the Western poetic tradition, meters are customarily grouped according to a characteristic metrical foot and the number of feet per line.
The most common metrical feet in English are:
- iamb – one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (e.g. des-cribe, in-clude, re-tract)
- trochee—one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable (e.g. pic-ture, flow-er)
- dactyl – one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables (e.g. an-no-tate, sim-i-lar)
- anapaest—two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable (e.g. com-pre-hend)
- spondee—two stressed syllables together (e.g. heart-beat, four-teen)
- pyrrhic—two unstressed syllables together (rare, usually used to end dactylic hexameter)
There are a wide range of names for other types of feet, right up to a choriamb, a four syllable metric foot with a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables and closing with a stressed syllable.
Languages which utilize vowel length or intonation rather than or in addition to syllabic accents in determining meter, such as Ottoman Turkish or Vedic, often have concepts similar to the iamb and dactyl to describe common combinations of long and short sounds.
Each of these types of feet has a certain "feel," whether alone or in combination with other feet.
The iamb, for example, is the most natural form of rhythm in the English language, and generally produces a subtle but stable verse.
There is debate over how useful a multiplicity of different "feet" is in describing meter.
For example, Robert Pinsky has argued that while dactyls are important in classical verse, English dactylic verse uses dactyls very irregularly and can be better described based on patterns of iambs and anapests, feet which he considers natural to the language.
Actual rhythm is significantly more complex than the basic scanned meter described above, and many scholars have sought to develop systems that would scan such complexity.
Vladimir Nabokov noted that overlaid on top of the regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of verse was a separate pattern of accents resulting from the natural pitch of the spoken words, and suggested that the term "scud" be used to distinguish an unaccented stress from an accented stress.
Main article: Meter (poetry)
Different traditions and genres of poetry tend to use different meters, ranging from the Shakespearean iambic pentameter and the Homeric dactylic hexameter to the anapestic tetrameter used in many nursery rhymes.
However, a number of variations to the established meter are common, both to provide emphasis or attention to a given foot or line and to avoid boring repetition.
For example, the stress in a foot may be inverted, a caesura (or pause) may be added (sometimes in place of a foot or stress), or the final foot in a line may be given a feminine ending to soften it or be replaced by a spondee to emphasize it and create a hard stop.
Some patterns (such as iambic pentameter) tend to be fairly regular, while other patterns, such as dactylic hexameter, tend to be highly irregular.
Regularity can vary between language.
In addition, different patterns often develop distinctively in different languages, so that, for example, iambic tetrameter in Russian will generally reflect a regularity in the use of accents to reinforce the meter, which does not occur, or occurs to a much lesser extent, in English.
Some common metrical patterns, with notable examples of poets and poems who use them, include:
- Iambic pentameter (John Milton, Paradise Lost; William Shakespeare, Sonnets)
- Dactylic hexameter (Homer, Iliad; Virgil, Aeneid)
- Iambic tetrameter (Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"; Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin; Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening)
- Trochaic octameter (Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven")
- Trochaic tetrameter (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha; the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala, is also in trochaic tetrameter, the natural rhythm of Finnish and Estonian)
- Alexandrin (Jean Racine, Phèdre)
Rhyme, alliteration, assonance
Rhyme, alliteration, assonance and consonance are ways of creating repetitive patterns of sound.
They may be used as an independent structural element in a poem, to reinforce rhythmic patterns, or as an ornamental element.
They can also carry a meaning separate from the repetitive sound patterns created.
For example, Chaucer used heavy alliteration to mock Old English verse and to paint a character as archaic.
Rhyme consists of identical ("hard-rhyme") or similar ("soft-rhyme") sounds placed at the ends of lines or at predictable locations within lines ("internal rhyme").
Languages vary in the richness of their rhyming structures; Italian, for example, has a rich rhyming structure permitting maintenance of a limited set of rhymes throughout a lengthy poem.
The richness results from word endings that follow regular forms.
English, with its irregular word endings adopted from other languages, is less rich in rhyme.
The degree of richness of a language's rhyming structures plays a substantial role in determining what poetic forms are commonly used in that language.
Alliteration is the repetition of letters or letter-sounds at the beginning of two or more words immediately succeeding each other, or at short intervals; or the recurrence of the same letter in accented parts of words.
Alliteration and assonance played a key role in structuring early Germanic, Norse and Old English forms of poetry.
The alliterative patterns of early Germanic poetry interweave meter and alliteration as a key part of their structure, so that the metrical pattern determines when the listener expects instances of alliteration to occur.
This can be compared to an ornamental use of alliteration in most Modern European poetry, where alliterative patterns are not formal or carried through full stanzas.
Alliteration is particularly useful in languages with less rich rhyming structures.
Assonance, where the use of similar vowel sounds within a word rather than similar sounds at the beginning or end of a word, was widely used in skaldic poetry but goes back to the Homeric epic.
Because verbs carry much of the pitch in the English language, assonance can loosely evoke the tonal elements of Chinese poetry and so is useful in translating Chinese poetry.
Consonance occurs where a consonant sound is repeated throughout a sentence without putting the sound only at the front of a word.
Consonance provokes a more subtle effect than alliteration and so is less useful as a structural element.
Main article: Rhyme scheme
However, the use of structural rhyme is not universal even within the European tradition.
Much modern poetry avoids traditional rhyme schemes.
Classical Greek and Latin poetry did not use rhyme.
Some rhyming schemes have become associated with a specific language, culture or period, while other rhyming schemes have achieved use across languages, cultures or time periods.
Most rhyme schemes are described using letters that correspond to sets of rhymes, so if the first, second and fourth lines of a quatrain rhyme with each other and the third line do not rhyme, the quatrain is said to have an "aa-ba" rhyme scheme.
This rhyme scheme is the one used, for example, in the rubaiyat form.
The types and use of differing rhyming schemes are discussed further in the main article.
Form in poetry
Poetic form is more flexible in modernist and post-modernist poetry and continues to be less structured than in previous literary eras.
Many modern poets eschew recognizable structures or forms and write in free verse.
But poetry remains distinguished from prose by its form; some regard for basic formal structures of poetry will be found in even the best free verse, however much such structures may appear to have been ignored.
Similarly, in the best poetry written in classic styles there will be departures from strict form for emphasis or effect.
Also sometimes used are broader visual presentations of words and calligraphy.
These basic units of poetic form are often combined into larger structures, called poetic forms or poetic modes (see the following section), as in the sonnet.
Lines and stanzas
Poetry is often separated into lines on a page, in a process known as lineation.
These lines may be based on the number of metrical feet or may emphasize a rhyming pattern at the ends of lines.
Lines may serve other functions, particularly where the poem is not written in a formal metrical pattern.
Lines can separate, compare or contrast thoughts expressed in different units, or can highlight a change in tone.
See the article on line breaks for information about the division between lines.
Lines of poems are often organized into stanzas, which are denominated by the number of lines included.
These lines may or may not relate to each other by rhyme or rhythm.
For example, a couplet may be two lines with identical meters which rhyme or two lines held together by a common meter alone.
Other poems may be organized into verse paragraphs, in which regular rhymes with established rhythms are not used, but the poetic tone is instead established by a collection of rhythms, alliterations, and rhymes established in paragraph form.
Many medieval poems were written in verse paragraphs, even where regular rhymes and rhythms were used.
In many forms of poetry, stanzas are interlocking, so that the rhyming scheme or other structural elements of one stanza determine those of succeeding stanzas.
Examples of such interlocking stanzas include, for example, the ghazal and the villanelle, where a refrain (or, in the case of the villanelle, refrains) is established in the first stanza which then repeats in subsequent stanzas.
Related to the use of interlocking stanzas is their use to separate thematic parts of a poem.
In some cases, particularly lengthier formal poetry such as some forms of epic poetry, stanzas themselves are constructed according to strict rules and then combined.
In addition to two or three alliterations, the odd-numbered lines had partial rhyme of consonants with dissimilar vowels, not necessarily at the beginning of the word; the even lines contained internal rhyme in set syllables (not necessarily at the end of the word).
Each half-line had exactly six syllables, and each line ended in a trochee.
The arrangement of dróttkvætts followed far less rigid rules than the construction of the individual dróttkvætts.
Main article: Visual poetry
Even before the advent of printing, the visual appearance of poetry often added meaning or depth.
Acrostic poems conveyed meanings in the initial letters of lines or in letters at other specific places in a poem.
With the advent of printing, poets gained greater control over the mass-produced visual presentations of their work.
Visual elements have become an important part of the poet's toolbox, and many poets have sought to use visual presentation for a wide range of purposes.
Some Modernist poets have made the placement of individual lines or groups of lines on the page an integral part of the poem's composition.
At times, this complements the poem's rhythm through visual caesuras of various lengths, or creates juxtapositions so as to accentuate meaning, ambiguity or irony, or simply to create an aesthetically pleasing form.
Main article: Poetic diction
Poetic diction treats the manner in which language is used, and refers not only to the sound but also to the underlying meaning and its interaction with sound and form.
Registers in poetry can range from strict employment of ordinary speech patterns, as favoured in much late-20th-century prosody, through to highly ornate uses of language, as in medieval and Renaissance poetry.
Since the rise of Modernism, some poets have opted for a poetic diction that de-emphasizes rhetorical devices, attempting instead the direct presentation of things and experiences and the exploration of tone.
Aesop's Fables, repeatedly rendered in both verse and prose since first being recorded about 500 BCE, are perhaps the richest single source of allegorical poetry through the ages.
Other notables examples include the Roman de la Rose, a 13th-century French poem, William Langland's Piers Ploughman in the 14th century, and Jean de la Fontaine's Fables (influenced by Aesop's) in the 17th century.
Another element of poetic diction can be the use of vivid imagery for effect.
The juxtaposition of unexpected or impossible images is, for example, a particularly strong element in surrealist poetry and haiku.
Vivid images are often endowed with symbolism or metaphor.
Many poetic dictions use repetitive phrases for effect, either a short phrase (such as Homer's "rosy-fingered dawn" or "the wine-dark sea") or a longer refrain.
Such repetition can add a somber tone to a poem, or can be laced with irony as the context of the words changes.
See also: :Category: Poetic form
Specific poetic forms have been developed by many cultures.
In more developed, closed or "received" poetic forms, the rhyming scheme, meter and other elements of a poem are based on sets of rules, ranging from the relatively loose rules that govern the construction of an elegy to the highly formalized structure of the ghazal or villanelle.
Described below are some common forms of poetry widely used across a number of languages.
Additional forms of poetry may be found in the discussions of the poetry of particular cultures or periods and in the glossary.
Main article: Sonnet
Among the most common forms of poetry, popular from the Late Middle Ages on, is the sonnet, which by the 13th century had become standardized as fourteen lines following a set rhyme scheme and logical structure.
By the 14th century and the Italian Renaissance, the form had further crystallized under the pen of Petrarch, whose sonnets were translated in the 16th century by Sir Thomas Wyatt, who is credited with introducing the sonnet form into English literature.
A traditional Italian or Petrarchan sonnet follows the rhyme scheme ABBA, ABBA, CDECDE, though some variation, perhaps the most common being CDCDCD, especially within the final six lines (or sestet), is common.
The English (or Shakespearean) sonnet follows the rhyme scheme ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG, introducing a third quatrain (grouping of four lines), a final couplet, and a greater amount of variety with regard to rhyme than is usually found in its Italian predecessors.
Sonnets of all types often make use of a volta, or "turn," a point in the poem at which an idea is turned on its head, a question is answered (or introduced), or the subject matter is further complicated.
This volta can often take the form of a "but" statement contradicting or complicating the content of the earlier lines.
In the Petrarchan sonnet, the turn tends to fall around the division between the first two quatrains and the sestet, while English sonnets usually place it at or near the beginning of the closing couplet.
Sonnets are particularly associated with high poetic diction, vivid imagery, and romantic love, largely due to the influence of Petrarch as well as of early English practitioners such as Edmund Spenser (who gave his name to the Spenserian sonnet), Michael Drayton, and Shakespeare, whose sonnets are among the most famous in English poetry, with twenty being included in the Oxford Book of English Verse.
However, the twists and turns associated with the volta allow for a logical flexibility applicable to many subjects.
Poets from the earliest centuries of the sonnet to the present have utilized the form to address topics related to politics (John Milton, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Claude McKay), theology (John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins), war (Wilfred Owen, e.e. ), and gender and sexuality ( cummingsCarol Ann Duffy).
Further, postmodern authors such as Ted Berrigan and John Berryman have challenged the traditional definitions of the sonnet form, rendering entire sequences of "sonnets" that often lack rhyme, a clear logical progression, or even a consistent count of fourteen lines.
Main article: Shi (poetry)
In all cases, rhyming is obligatory.
The Yuefu is a folk ballad or a poem written in the folk ballad style, and the number of lines and the length of the lines could be irregular.
For the other variations of shi poetry, generally either a four line (quatrain, or jueju) or else an eight-line poem is normal; either way with the even numbered lines rhyming.
The line length is scanned by an according number of characters (according to the convention that one character equals one syllable), and are predominantly either five or seven characters long, with a caesura before the final three syllables.
The lines are generally end-stopped, considered as a series of couplets, and exhibit verbal parallelism as a key poetic device.
The "old style" verse (Gushi) is less formally strict than the jintishi, or regulated verse, which, despite the name "new style" verse actually had its theoretical basis laid as far back as Shen Yue (441–513 CE), although not considered to have reached its full development until the time of Chen Zi'ang (661–702 CE).
A good example of a poet known for his Gushi poems is Li Bai (701–762 CE).
The basic form of jintishi (sushi) has eight lines in four couplets, with parallelism between the lines in the second and third couplets.
The couplets with parallel lines contain contrasting content but an identical grammatical relationship between words.
Jintishi often have a rich poetic diction, full of allusion, and can have a wide range of subject, including history and politics.
One of the masters of the form was Du Fu (712–770 CE), who wrote during the Tang Dynasty (8th century).
Main article: Villanelle
The villanelle is a nineteen-line poem made up of five triplets with a closing quatrain; the poem is characterized by having two refrains, initially used in the first and third lines of the first stanza, and then alternately used at the close of each subsequent stanza until the final quatrain, which is concluded by the two refrains.
The remaining lines of the poem have an a-b alternating rhyme.
Main article: Limerick (poetry)
A limerick is a poem that consists of five lines and is often humorous.
Rhythm is very important in limericks for the first, second and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables.
However, the third and fourth lines only need five to seven.
All of the lines must rhyme and have the same rhythm.
Main article: Tanka
There is generally a shift in tone and subject matter between the upper 5-7-5 phrase and the lower 7-7 phrase.
Tanka were written as early as the Asuka period by such poets as Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (fl. late 7th century), at a time when Japan was emerging from a period where much of its poetry followed Chinese form.
Tanka was originally the shorter form of Japanese formal poetry (which was generally referred to as "waka"), and was used more heavily to explore personal rather than public themes.
By the tenth century, tanka had become the dominant form of Japanese poetry, to the point where the originally general term waka ("Japanese poetry") came to be used exclusively for tanka.
Tanka are still widely written today.
Main article: Haiku
Generally written in a single vertical line, the haiku contains three sections totalling 17 on (morae), structured in a 5-7-5 pattern.
The most famous exponent of the haiku was Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694).
An example of his writing:
- fuji no kaze ya oogi ni nosete Edo miyage
- the wind of Mt. Fuji
- I've brought on my fan!
- a gift from Edo
Main article: Thai poetry
The khlong (โคลง, [kʰlōːŋ) is among the oldest Thai poetic forms.
This was likely derived from when the Thai language had three tones (as opposed to today's five, a split which occurred during the Ayutthaya Kingdom period), two of which corresponded directly to the aforementioned marks.
It is usually regarded as an advanced and sophisticated poetic form.
The bat are subdivided into two wak (วรรค, Thai pronunciation: [wák, from Sanskrit varga).
The first wak has five syllables, the second has a variable number, also depending on the type, and may be optional.
The two differ in the number of syllables in the second wak of the final bat and inter-stanza rhyming rules.
Khlong si suphap
The khlong si suphap (โคลงสี่สุภาพ, [kʰlōːŋ sìː sù.pʰâːp) is the most common form still currently employed.
It has four bat per stanza (si translates as four).
The first wak of each bat has five syllables.
The second wak has two or four syllables in the first and third bat, two syllables in the second, and four syllables in the fourth.
Mai ek is required for seven syllables and Mai tho is required for four, as shown below.
"Dead word" syllables are allowed in place of syllables which require mai ek, and changing the spelling of words to satisfy the criteria is usually acceptable.
Main article: Ode
Forms of odes appear in many of the cultures that were influenced by the Greeks and Latins.
The antistrophes of the ode possess similar metrical structures and, depending on the tradition, similar rhyme structures.
In contrast, the epode is written with a different scheme and structure.
Odes have a formal poetic diction and generally deal with a serious subject.
The strophe and antistrophe look at the subject from different, often conflicting, perspectives, with the epode moving to a higher level to either view or resolve the underlying issues.
Odes are often intended to be recited or sung by two choruses (or individuals), with the first reciting the strophe, the second the antistrophe, and both together the epode.
Over time, differing forms for odes have developed with considerable variations in form and structure, but generally showing the original influence of the Pindaric or Horatian ode.
Main article: Ghazal
In classic form, the ghazal has from five to fifteen rhyming couplets that share a refrain at the end of the second line.
This refrain may be of one or several syllables and is preceded by a rhyme.
Each line has an identical meter.
The ghazal often reflects on a theme of unattainable love or divinity.
As with other forms with a long history in many languages, many variations have been developed, including forms with a quasi-musical poetic diction in Urdu.
Ghazals have a classical affinity with Sufism, and a number of major Sufi religious works are written in ghazal form.
The relatively steady meter and the use of the refrain produce an incantatory effect, which complements Sufi mystical themes well.
One of the most famous poet in this type of poetry is Hafez, whose poems often include the theme of exposing hypocrisy.
His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-fourteenth century Persian writing more than any other author.
Main article: Ginans
In addition to specific forms of poems, poetry is often thought of in terms of different genres and subgenres.
A poetic genre is generally a tradition or classification of poetry based on the subject matter, style, or other broader literary characteristics.
Some commentators view genres as natural forms of literature.
Others view the study of genres as the study of how different works relate and refer to other works.
Main article: Narrative poetry
Narrative poetry is a genre of poetry that tells a story.
Narrative poetry may be the oldest type of poetry.
Notable narrative poets have included Ovid, Dante, Juan Ruiz, William Langland, Chaucer, Fernando de Rojas, Luís de Camões, Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, Robert Burns, Adam Mickiewicz, Alexander Pushkin, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Tennyson, and Anne Carson.
Main article: Lyric poetry
Poems in this genre tend to be shorter, melodic, and contemplative.
Main article: Epic poetry
Epic poetry is a genre of poetry, and a major form of narrative literature.
This genre is often defined as lengthy poems concerning events of a heroic or important nature to the culture of the time.
Examples of epic poems are Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, the Nibelungenlied, Luís de Camões' Os Lusíadas, the Cantar de Mio Cid, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mahabharata, Lönnrot's Kalevala, Valmiki's Ramayana, Ferdowsi's Shahnama, Nizami (or Nezami)'s Khamse (Five Books), and the Epic of King Gesar.
While the composition of epic poetry, and of long poems generally, became less common in the west after the early 20th century, some notable epics have continued to be written.
Poetry can be a powerful vehicle for satire.
The same is true of the English satirical tradition.
(a reference to Thomas Shadwell).
Another master of 17th-century English satirical poetry was John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester.
Main article: Elegy
An elegy may also reflect something that seems to the author to be strange or mysterious.
The elegy, as a reflection on a death, on a sorrow more generally, or on something mysterious, may be classified as a form of lyric poetry.
Notable practitioners of elegiac poetry have included Propertius, Jorge Manrique, Jan Kochanowski, Chidiock Tichborne, Edmund Spenser, Ben Jonson, John Milton, Thomas Gray, Charlotte Turner Smith, William Cullen Bryant, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Evgeny Baratynsky, Alfred Tennyson, Walt Whitman, Antonio Machado, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Giannina Braschi, William Butler Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Virginia Woolf.
Main article: Fable
Notable verse fabulists have included Aesop, Vishnu Sarma, Phaedrus, Marie de France, Robert Henryson, Biernat of Lublin, Jean de La Fontaine, Ignacy Krasicki, Félix María de Samaniego, Tomás de Iriarte, Ivan Krylov and Ambrose Bierce.
Greek tragedy in verse dates to the 6th century B.C., and may have been an influence on the development of Sanskrit drama, just as Indian drama in turn appears to have influenced the development of the bianwen verse dramas in China, forerunners of Chinese Opera.
Examples of dramatic poetry in Persian literature include Nizami's two famous dramatic works, Layla and Majnun and Khosrow and Shirin, Ferdowsi's tragedies such as Rostam and Sohrab, Rumi's Masnavi, Gorgani's tragedy of Vis and Ramin, and Vahshi's tragedy of Farhad.
Main article: Speculative poetry
Speculative poetry, also known as fantastic poetry (of which weird or macabre poetry is a major sub-classification), is a poetic genre which deals thematically with subjects which are "beyond reality", whether via extrapolation as in science fiction or via weird and horrific themes as in horror fiction.
Such poetry appears regularly in modern science fiction and horror fiction magazines.
Edgar Allan Poe is sometimes seen as the "father of speculative poetry".
Poe's most remarkable achievement in the genre was his anticipation, by three-quarters of a century, of the Big Bang theory of the universe's origin, in his then much-derided 1848 essay (which, due to its very speculative nature, he termed a "prose poem"), Eureka: A Prose Poem.
Main article: Prose poetry
Prose poetry is a hybrid genre that shows attributes of both prose and poetry.
While some examples of earlier prose strike modern readers as poetic, prose poetry is commonly regarded as having originated in 19th-century France, where its practitioners included Aloysius Bertrand, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé.
Since the late 1980s especially, prose poetry has gained increasing popularity, with entire journals, such as The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Haibun Today devoted to that genre and its hybrids.
Main article: Light poetry
Light poetry, or light verse, is poetry that attempts to be humorous.
Although a few free verse poets have excelled at light verse outside the formal verse tradition, light verse in English usually obeys at least some formal conventions.
While light poetry is sometimes condemned as doggerel, or thought of as poetry composed casually, humor often makes a serious point in a subtle or subversive way.
Many of the most renowned "serious" poets have also excelled at light verse.
Main article: Poetry slam
Slam performers comment emotively, aloud before an audience, on personal, social, or other matters.
Slam focuses on the aesthetics of word play, intonation, and voice inflection.
Slam poetry is often competitive, at dedicated "poetry slam" contests.
- Digital poetry
- Glossary of poetry terms
- List of poetry groups and movements
- Oral poetry
- Outline of poetry
- Persona poetry
- Poet laureate
- Poetry reading
- Spoken word
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry.