Outline of poetry

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and introduction to poetry:

Poetry – a form of art in which language is used for its aesthetic qualities, in addition to, or instead of, its apparent meaning.

What type of thing is poetry?[edit]

Poetry can be described as all of the following things:

  • One of the arts – as an art form, poetry is an outlet of human expression, that is usually influenced by culture and which in turn helps to change culture. Poetry is a physical manifestation of the internal human creative impulse.
    • A form of literature – literature is composition, that is, written or oral work such as books, stories, and poems.
    • Fine art – in Western European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics, distinguishing it from applied art that also has to serve some practical function. The word "fine" here does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline according to traditional Western European canons.

Types of poetry[edit]

Common poetic forms[edit]

  • Epic – lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Milman Parry and Albert Lord have argued that the Homeric epics, the earliest works of Western literature, were fundamentally an oral poetic form. These works form the basis of the epic genre in Western literature.
  • Sonnet – poetic form which originated in Italy; Giacomo Da Lentini is credited with its invention.
  • Jintishi – literally "Modern Poetry", was actually composed from the 5th century onwards and is considered to have been fully developed by the early Tang dynasty. The works were principally written in five- and seven-character lines and involve constrained tone patterns, intended to balance the four tones of Middle Chinese within each couplet.
  • Villanelle – nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The villanelle is an example of a fixed verse form.
  • Tanka
  • Ode
  • Ghazal
  • Haiku

Periods, styles and movements[edit]

For movements see List of poetry groups and movements

History of poetry[edit]

History of poetry – the earliest poetry is believed to have been recited or sung, such as in the form of hymns (such as the work of Sumerian priestess Enheduanna), and employed as a way of remembering oral history, genealogy, and law. Many of the poems surviving from the ancient world are recorded prayers, or stories about religious subject matter, but they also include historical accounts, instructions for everyday activities, love songs, and fiction.

Elements of poetry[edit]

Main article: Meter (poetry)

Methods of creating rhythm[edit]

See also Parallelism, inflection, intonation, foot

Scanning meter[edit]

Main article: Systems of scansion
  • spondee – two stressed syllables together
  • iamb – unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable
  • trochee – one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable
  • dactyl – one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables
  • anapest – two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable

The number of metrical feet in a line are described in Greek terminology as follows:

Common metrical patterns[edit]

Main article: Meter (poetry)

Rhyme, alliteration and assonance[edit]

Rhyming schemes[edit]

Main article: Rhyme scheme

Stanzas and verse paragraphs[edit]

Main article: stanza

Poetic diction[edit]

Main article: Poetic diction


Main article: Poetics

Some famous poets and their poems[edit]

Main articles: List of poets and List of poems

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Two versions of Paradise Lost are freely available on-line from Project Guttenberg, Project Gutenberg text version 1 and Project Gutenberg text version 2
  2. ^ The original text, as translated by Samuel Butler, is available at Wikisource.s:The Iliad
  3. ^ The full text is available online both in Russian [1] and as translated into English by Charles Johnston.[2] Please see the pages on Eugene Onegin and on Nabokov's Notes on Prosody and the references on those pages for discussion of the problems of translation and of the differences between Russian and English iambic tetrameter.
  4. ^ The full text of "The Raven" is available at Wikisource s:The Raven (Poe)
  5. ^ The full text of "The Hunting of the Snark" is available at Wikisource.s:The Hunting of the Snark
  6. ^ The full text of Don Juan is available on-line
  7. ^ See the Text of the play in French as well as an English translation,

External links[edit]