Poetry

Poetry

Overview
Poetry is a form of literary
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 in which language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 is used for its aesthetic
Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

 and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning
Meaning (linguistics)
In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems; or, may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s, lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

, or prose poetry
Prose poetry
Prose poetry is poetry written in prose instead of using verse but preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery and emotional effects.-Characteristics:Prose poetry can be considered either primarily poetry or prose, or a separate genre altogether...

. It is published in dedicated magazines (the longest established being Poetry
Poetry (magazine)
Poetry , published in Chicago, Illinois since 1912, is one of the leading monthly poetry journals in the English-speaking world. Published by the Poetry Foundation and currently edited by Christian Wiman, the magazine has a circulation of 30,000 and prints 300 poems per year out of approximately...

and Oxford Poetry
Oxford Poetry
Oxford Poetry is a literary magazine based in Oxford, England. It is currently edited by Hamid Khanbhai and Thomas A Richards.Founded in 1910 by Basil Blackwell, its editors have included Dorothy L...

).

Poetry has a long history
History of poetry
Poetry as an art form predates literacy. Some of the earliest poetry is believed to have been orally recited or sung. Following the development of writing, poetry has since developed into increasingly structured forms, though much poetry since the late 20th century has moved away from traditional...

, dating back to the Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

.
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Quotations

Always be a poet, even in prose.

Charles Baudelaire "My Heart Laid Bare" Intimate Journals, (1864)

A poet should leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Traces alone engender dreams.

René Char, as quoted in The French-American Review (1976) by Texas Christian University, p. 132

Poets and anarchists are always the first to go. Where. To the frontline. Wherever it is.

Giannina Braschi, Yo-Yo Boing!

An undevout poet is an impossibility.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge Seven Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton

If you examine the highest poetry in the light of common sense, you can only say that it is rubbish; and in actual fact you cannot so examine it at all, because there is something in poetry which is not in the words themselves, which is not in the images suggested by the words 'O windy star blown sideways up the sky!' True poetry is itself a magic spell which is a key to the ineffable.

Aleister Crowley Eight Lectures on Yoga

I'm a poetry–skipper myself. I don't like to boast, but I have probably skipped more poetry than any other person of my age and weight in this country — make it any other two persons. This doesn't mean that I hate poetry. I don't feel that strongly about it. It only means that those who wish to communicate with me by means of the written word must do so in prose.

Will Cuppy, How to Get From January to December (1951)

You don't have to write anything down to be a poet. Some work in gas stations. Some shine shoes. I don't really call myself one because I don't like the word. Me? I'm a trapeze artist.

A paraphrased statement of Bob Dylan, used by the Arthur Rimbaud characterization of Dylan in I'm Not There

It is a test (a positive test, I do not assert that it is always valid negatively), that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.

T. S. Eliot, in Dante (1929)
Encyclopedia
Poetry is a form of literary
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 in which language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 is used for its aesthetic
Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

 and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning
Meaning (linguistics)
In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems; or, may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s, lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

, or prose poetry
Prose poetry
Prose poetry is poetry written in prose instead of using verse but preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery and emotional effects.-Characteristics:Prose poetry can be considered either primarily poetry or prose, or a separate genre altogether...

. It is published in dedicated magazines (the longest established being Poetry
Poetry (magazine)
Poetry , published in Chicago, Illinois since 1912, is one of the leading monthly poetry journals in the English-speaking world. Published by the Poetry Foundation and currently edited by Christian Wiman, the magazine has a circulation of 30,000 and prints 300 poems per year out of approximately...

and Oxford Poetry
Oxford Poetry
Oxford Poetry is a literary magazine based in Oxford, England. It is currently edited by Hamid Khanbhai and Thomas A Richards.Founded in 1910 by Basil Blackwell, its editors have included Dorothy L...

).

Poetry has a long history
History of poetry
Poetry as an art form predates literacy. Some of the earliest poetry is believed to have been orally recited or sung. Following the development of writing, poetry has since developed into increasingly structured forms, though much poetry since the late 20th century has moved away from traditional...

, dating back to the Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

. The earliest poems evolved from folk songs, such as the Chinese Shijing, or from the need to retell oral epics, such as the Sanskrit
Sanskrit literature
Literature in Sanskrit begins with the Vedas, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India; the golden age of Classical Sanskrit literature dates to late Antiquity . Literary production saw a late bloom in the 11th century before declining after 1100 AD...

 Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, Zoroastrian
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 Gathas
Gathas
The Gathas are 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathusthra himself. They are the most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith.-Structure and organization:...

, and the Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

ic epics, the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

and the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

. Ancient attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, song
Song
In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.A song may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in the case of a cappella songs...

, and comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

. Later attempts concentrated on features such as repetition, verse form
Line (poetry)
A line is a unit of language into which a poem or play is divided, which operates on principles which are distinct from and not necessarily coincident with grammatical structures, such as the sentence or clauses in sentences...

 and rhyme
Rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

, and emphasized the aesthetics which distinguish poetry from more objectively informative, prosaic
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 forms of writing, such as manifesto
Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

s, biographies, essay
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

s, and novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

s. From the mid-20th century, poetry has sometimes been more generally labeled as a fundamental creative act using language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

.

Poetry primarily is governed by idiosyncratic forms and conventions to suggest differential interpretation to words, or to evoke emotive responses. Devices such as assonance
Assonance
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the is repeated within the sentence and is...

, alliteration
Alliteration
In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of Three or more words or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to...

, onomatopoeia, and rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

 are sometimes used to achieve music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

al or incantatory
Incantation
An incantation or enchantment is a charm or spell created using words. An incantation may take place during a ritual, either a hymn or prayer, and may invoke or praise a deity. In magic, occultism, witchcraft it may be used with the intention of casting a spell on an object or a person...

 effects. The use of ambiguity
Ambiguity
Ambiguity of words or phrases is the ability to express more than one interpretation. It is distinct from vagueness, which is a statement about the lack of precision contained or available in the information.Context may play a role in resolving ambiguity...

, symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

ism, irony
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

, and other stylistic
Stylistics (linguistics)
Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts from a linguistic perspective. As a discipline it links literary criticism and linguistics, but has no autonomous domain of its own...

 elements of poetic diction
Poetic diction
Poetic diction is the term used to refer to the linguistic style, the vocabulary, and the metaphors used in the writing of poetry. In the Western tradition, all these elements were thought of as properly different in poetry and prose up to the time of the Romantic revolution, when William...

 often leaves a poem open to multiple interpretations. Similarly, metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

, simile
Simile
A simile is a figure of speech that directly compares two different things, usually by employing the words "like", "as". Even though both similes and metaphors are forms of comparison, similes indirectly compare the two ideas and allow them to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas...

, and metonymy
Metonymy
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

 create a resonance between otherwise disparate images—a layering of meaning
Meaning (linguistics)
In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

s, forming connections previously not perceived. Kindred forms of resonance may exist, between individual verse
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

s, in their patterns of rhyme or rhythm.

Some poetry types are specific to particular culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s and genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s, responding to the characteristics of the language in which the poet writes. Readers accustomed to identifying poetry with Dante
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

, Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

, Mickiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Bernard Mickiewicz ) was a Polish poet, publisher and political writer of the Romantic period. One of the primary representatives of the Polish Romanticism era, a national poet of Poland, he is seen as one of Poland's Three Bards and the greatest poet in all of Polish literature...

 and Rumi may think of it as being written in lines
Line (poetry)
A line is a unit of language into which a poem or play is divided, which operates on principles which are distinct from and not necessarily coincident with grammatical structures, such as the sentence or clauses in sentences...

 based upon rhyme
Rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

 and regular meter
Meter (poetry)
In poetry, metre is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse metre, or a certain set of metres alternating in a particular order. The study of metres and forms of versification is known as prosody...

, there are traditions, such as Biblical poetry
Biblical poetry
The ancient Hebrews perceived that there were poetical portions in their sacred texts, as shown by their entitling as songs or chants such passages as Exodus 15:1-19 and Numbers 21:17-20; and a song or chant is, according to the primary meaning of the term, poetry.- Rhyme :It is often stated that...

, that use other methodologies to create rhythm and euphony
Euphony
Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty or unpleasantness of the sound of certain words and sentences. Poetry is considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose...

. Much of modern British and American poetry is to some extent a critique of poetic tradition, playing with and testing (among other things) the principle of euphony itself, to the extent that sometimes it deliberately does not rhyme or keep to set rhythms at all. In today's globalized
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 world poets often borrow styles, techniques and forms from diverse cultures and languages.

History



Poetry as an art form may predate literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

. Epic poetry
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

, from the Indian
Vedic period
The Vedic period was a period in history during which the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed. The time span of the period is uncertain. Philological and linguistic evidence indicates that the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedas, was composed roughly between 1700–1100 BCE, also...

 Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

(1700–1200 BC) and Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

's Gathas
Gathas
The Gathas are 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathusthra himself. They are the most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith.-Structure and organization:...

to the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

(800
8th century BC
The 8th century BC started the first day of 800 BC and ended the last day of 701 BC.-Overview:The 8th century BC was a period of great changes in civilizations. In Egypt, the 23rd and 24th dynasties led to rule from Nubia in the 25th Dynasty...

675 BC
7th century BC in poetry
-Poets :* Homer, born near or before the beginning of the century* Hesiod, born near or before the beginning of the century in Boeotia* Archilochus of Paros * Alcman * Semonides* Solon...

), appears to have been composed in poetic form to aid memorization and oral transmission, in prehistoric and ancient societies. Other forms of poetry developed directly from the recording of folk songs. The earliest entries in the ancient compilation Shijing (1000 BC), sometimes called the world's earliest collection of poetry, were initially lyrics, preceding later entries intended to be read. Poetry appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures, with poetic fragments found on early monolith
Monolith
A monolith is a geological feature such as a mountain, consisting of a single massive stone or rock, or a single piece of rock placed as, or within, a monument...

s, runestones, and stelae
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

.

The oldest surviving epic poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

, from the 3rd millennium BC in Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

 (in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, now Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

), which was written in cuneiform script
Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

 on clay tablets and, later, papyrus
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

. Other ancient epic poetry
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 includes the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 epics Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

and Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, the Old Iranian
Avestan language
Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

 books the Gathic Avesta
Gathas
The Gathas are 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathusthra himself. They are the most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith.-Structure and organization:...

and Yasna
Yasna
Yasna is the name of the primary liturgical collection of texts of the Avesta as well as the name of the principal Zoroastrian act of worship at which those verses are recited. The Yasna, or Izeshne, is primarily the name of the ceremony in which the entire book is recited and appropriate...

, the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 national epic
National epic
A national epic is an epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation; not necessarily a nation-state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic group with aspirations to independence or autonomy...

, Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

, and the Indian epics
Indian epic poetry
Indian epic poetry is the epic poetry written in the Indian subcontinent, traditionally called Kavya . The Ramayana and Mahabharata, originally composed in Sanskrit and translated thereafter into many other Indian languages, are some of the oldest surviving epic poems on earth and form part of...

 Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

and Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

.

The efforts of ancient thinkers to determine what makes poetry distinctive as a form , and what distinguishes good poetry from bad, resulted in "poetics
Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics is the earliest-surviving work of dramatic theory and the first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory...

"—the study of the aesthetics of poetry. Some ancient societies, such as the Chinese through the Shijing (Classic of Poetry), one of the Five Classics, 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
The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales are told as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at...

and Matsuo Bashō
Matsuo Basho
, born , then , was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku...

's Oku no Hosomichi
Oku no Hosomichi
, translated alternately as The Narrow Road to the Deep North and The Narrow Road to the Interior, is a major work by the Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō considered "one of the major texts of classical Japanese literature."...

, as well as differences in context spanning Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 religious poetry
Biblical poetry
The ancient Hebrews perceived that there were poetical portions in their sacred texts, as shown by their entitling as songs or chants such passages as Exodus 15:1-19 and Numbers 21:17-20; and a song or chant is, according to the primary meaning of the term, poetry.- Rhyme :It is often stated that...

, love
Romantic love
Romance is the pleasurable feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one's love, or one's deep emotional desires to connect with another person....

 poetry, and rap
Rapping
Rapping refers to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics". The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is separated into “content”, “flow” , and “delivery”...

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