Poetic genre  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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.

Epic poetry is one commonly identified genre, often defined as lengthy poems concerning events of a heroic or important nature to the culture of the time. Lyric poetry, which tends to be shorter, melodic, and contemplative, is another commonly identified genre. Some commentators may organize bodies of poetry into further subgenres, and individual poems may be seen as a part of many different genres. In many cases, poetic genres show common features as a result of a common tradition, even across cultures.

Described below are some common genres, but the classification of genres, the description of their characteristics, and even the reasons for undertaking a classification into genres can take many forms.

Contents

Narrative poetry

Narrative poetry is a genre of poetry that tells a story. Broadly it subsumes epic poetry, but the term "narrative poetry" is often reserved for smaller works, generally with more appeal to human interest.

Narrative poetry may be the oldest type of poetry. Many scholars of Homer have concluded that his Iliad and Odyssey were composed from compilations of shorter narrative poems that related individual episodes and were more suitable for an evening's entertainment. Much narrative poetry—such as Scots and English ballads, and Baltic and Slavic heroic poems—is performance poetry with roots in a preliterate oral tradition. It has been speculated that some features that distinguish poetry from prose, such as meter, alliteration and kennings, once served as memory aids for bards who recited traditional tales.

Notable narrative poets have included Ovid, Dante, Juan Ruiz, Chaucer, William Langland, Luís de Camões, Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, Robert Burns, Fernando de Rojas, Adam Mickiewicz, Alexander Pushkin, Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Tennyson.

Epic poetry

Epic poetry is a genre of poetry, and a major form of narrative literature. It recounts, in a continuous narrative, the life and works of a heroic or mythological person or group of persons. 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, Valmiki's Ramayana, Ferdowsi's Shahnama, 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. Derek Walcott won a Nobel prize to a great extent on the basis of his epic, Omeros.

Dramatic poetry

Dramatic poetry is drama written in verse to be spoken or sung, and appears in varying, sometimes related forms in many cultures. Verse drama may have developed out of earlier oral epics, such as the Sanskrit and Greek epics.


Greek tragedy in verse dates to the sixth 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 bainwen verse dramas in China, forerunners of Chinese Opera. East Asian verse dramas also include Japanese Noh.

Examples of dramatic poetry in Persian literature include Nezami'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.

Satirical poetry

Poetry can be a powerful vehicle for satire. The punch of an insult delivered in verse can be many times more powerful and memorable than that of the same insult, spoken or written in prose. The Romans had a strong tradition of satirical poetry, often written for political purposes. A notable example is the Roman poet Juvenal's satires, whose insults stung the entire spectrum of society.

The same is true of the English satirical tradition. Embroiled in the feverish politics of the time and stung by an attack on him by his former friend, Thomas Shadwell (a Whig), John Dryden (a Tory), the first Poet Laureate, produced in 1682 Mac Flecknoe, one of the greatest pieces of sustained invective in the English language, subtitled "A Satire on the True Blue Protestant Poet, T.S." In this, the late, notably mediocre poet, Richard Flecknoe, was imagined to be contemplating who should succeed him as ruler "of all the realms of Nonsense absolute" to "reign and wage immortal war on wit."

Another master of 17th-century English satirical poetry was John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. He was known for ruthless satires such as "A Satyr Against Mankind" (1675) and a "A Satyr on Charles II."

Another exemplar of English satirical poetry was Alexander Pope, who famously chided critics in his Essay on Criticism (1709). Dryden and Pope were writers of epic poetry, and their satirical style was accordingly epic; but there is no prescribed form for satirical poetry. The greatest satirical poets outside England include Poland's Ignacy Krasicki and Portugal's Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage, commonly known as Bocage.

Lyric poetry

Lyric poetry is a genre that, unlike epic poetry and dramatic poetry, does not attempt to tell a story but instead is of a more personal nature. Rather than depicting characters and actions, it portrays the poet's own feelings, states of mind, and perceptions. While the genre's name, derived from "lyre," implies that it is intended to be sung, much lyric poetry is meant purely for reading.

Though lyric poetry has long celebrated love, many courtly-love poets also wrote lyric poems about war and peace, nature and nostalgia, grief and loss. Notable among these are the 15th century French lyric poets, Christine de Pizan and Charles, Duke of Orléans. Spiritual and religious themes were addressed by such mystic lyric poets as St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Ávila. The tradition of lyric poetry based on spiritual experience was continued by later poets such as John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Antonio Machado and T. S. Eliot.

Though the most popular form for western lyric poetry to take may be the 14-line sonnet, as practiced by Petrarch and Shakespeare, lyric poetry shows a bewildering variety of forms, including increasingly, in the 20th century, unrhymed ones. Lyric poetry is the most common type of poetry, as it deals intricately with an author's own emotions and views.

Elegy

An elegy is a mournful, melancholy or plaintive poem, especially a lament for the dead or a funeral song. The term "elegy," which originally denoted a type of poetic meter (elegiac meter), commonly describes a poem of mourning. 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. In a related sense that harks back to ancient poetic traditions of sung poetry, the word "elegy" may also denote a type of musical work, usually of a sad or somber nature.

Elegiac poetry has been written since antiquity. Notable practitioners have included Propertius (lived ca. 50 BCE – ca. 15 BCE), Jorge Manrique (1476), Jan Kochanowski (1580), Chidiock Tichborne (1586), Edmund Spenser (1595), Ben Jonson (1616), John Milton (1637), Thomas Gray (1750), Charlotte Turner Smith (1784), William Cullen Bryant (1817), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1821), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1823), Evgeny Baratynsky (1837), Alfred Tennyson (1849), Walt Whitman (1865), Louis Gallet (lived 1835–98), Antonio Machado (1903), Juan Ramón Jiménez (1914), William Butler Yeats (1916), Rainer Maria Rilke (1922), Virginia Woolf (1927), Federico García Lorca (1935), Kamau Brathwaite (author born 1930).

Verse fable

The fable is an ancient, near-ubiquitous literary genre, often (though not invariably) set in verse. It is a succinct story that features anthropomorphized animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that illustrate a moral lesson (a "moral"). Verse fables have used a variety of meter and rhyme patterns; Ignacy Krasicki, for example, in his Fables and Parables, used 13-syllable lines in rhyming couplets.

Notable verse fabulists have included Aesop (mid-6th century BCE), Vishnu Sarma (ca. 200 BCE), Phaedrus (15 BCE–50 CE), Marie de France (12th century), Robert Henryson (fl.1470-1500), Biernat of Lublin (1465?–after 1529), Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95), Ignacy Krasicki (1735–1801), Félix María de Samaniego (1745 – 1801), Tomás de Iriarte (1750 – 1791), Ivan Krylov (1769–1844) and Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914). All of Aesop's translators and successors owe a debt to that semi-legendary fabulist.

An example of a verse fable is Krasicki's "The Lamb and the Wolves":

Aggression ever finds cause if sufficiently pressed.
Two wolves on the prowl had trapped a lamb in the forest
And were about to pounce. Quoth the lamb: "What right have you?"
"You're toothsome, weak, in the wood." — The wolves dined sans ado.

Prose poetry

Prose poetry is a hybrid genre that shows attributes of both prose and poetry. It may be indistinguishable from the micro-story (aka the "short short story," "flash fiction"). It qualifies as poetry because of its conciseness, use of metaphor, and special attention to language.

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.

The genre has subsequently found notable exemplars in different languages:

Since the late 1980s especially, prose poetry has gained increasing popularity, with entire journals devoted solely to that genre.Template:Fact





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Poetic genre" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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