The Art Of Poetry: Defined And Illustrated

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Poetry Analysis

A lot goes into writing a poem from understanding the benefits of poetry, deciding which type of poetry to write, to have proper structure and format including imagery, focus on sound, defining the poem’s meaning, and having a goal. The purpose of doing this is for self-expression. Poetry, for many people, is a way of evoking emotion from the audience and to develop a creative, free-floating state of mind with the author and the world. As poet Meena Alexander says, “Poetry’s task is to reconcile us to the world – not to accept it at face value or to assent to things that are wrong, but to reconcile one in a larger sense, to return us in love, the province of the imagination, to the scope of our mortal lives.” (Alexander 2013)

Muriel Rukeseyer, a successful poet and political activist wrote a book in 1949 called The Life of Poetry, where she touches on the meanings of poetry. “Much of that has been taken away from us; but now we need to look for the relating forces. The forces, that is, that love to perceive relationships and cause them to grow; they may be most complex. As poetry is complex.” (Rukeseyer) With this quote, Rukeseyer is referring to “gashes in our world that we love with so much pain” and how our “ability to dance our common foreboding” (Rukeseyer) has been taken away from us, so we must turn to relating forces that perceive lovely relationships and cause them to develop. These relating forces Rukeseyer is talking about is poetry, as she explains that these forces may be most complex, as poetry is complex. (Rukeseyer)

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There are several reasons why people write poetry and every one of them is valid. Poetry has been composed of a highly educated and leisurely population throughout history. It was developed and used by priests of the eighteenth century and eventually spread throughout the middle classes of Victoria. Poetry started to enter the English culture at the turn of the century and has since continued to inspire all levels of society. Poetry has also been written as a way of expressing various emotions and thoughts from discontent with something, political ramblings, falling in love, experiencing excessive love, humor, and comedy or as well as sadness.

Some writers believe poetry has its roots in song. Almost all of the characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of utterance – rhythm, rhythm, compression, feeling intensity, refrain use – appear to have emerged from efforts to fit words into musical forms. However, the earliest surviving poems, the Homeric and Hesiodic epics, identify themselves in the European tradition as poems to be recited in a musical accompaniment rather than as pure song. Another concept developed by Milman Parry and others from 20th-century studies of living Montenegran epic reciters is that rhythm, refrains, and kennings are simply paratactic devices allowing the reciter to reconstruct the poem from memory.


Narrative, dramatic, and lyrical are the three main forms of poetry. Although they are all completely different styles of poetry, it can sometimes be a little difficult to determine which is which, considering that these poems can contain characteristics of other poems or slight glimpses of other work. For example, it is possible for a lyrical poem to have narrative parts. Lyrical poetry is just like it sounds. This emerged from music association and is composed in a song-like style consisting of many kinds of lyrical poems, such as an ode, sonnet, pastoral, elegy, or ballad.

Though still song-like, dramatic poetry is usually made up of one or more characters and is more action-packed than lyrical or narrative poems. The intention behind dramatic poetry is to push the audience into a storyline involving suspense, immediacy, anticipation, and conflict with the characters in the poem. Narrative poetry is the one that tells a story to the audience. This type of poetry is mostly used for romance and epic poems. Ballads can also be used as narrative poems since it contains a story. (Skuola)

Document Description/Example

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1915)

This is an example of a narrative poem. It consists of 5 lines within each stanza. This poem, although short, revolves around a very powerful message and an extremely establishing moment in Frost’s life. Robert Frost wrote this poem to illustrate his friend Edward Thomas, an English-Welsh writer, who often lamented not having taken a different route while walking with Frost in England. Thomas would be sighing over what they might have seen and done, and Frost found this enlightening and inspiring. The Road Not Taken is more about what may not have happened: this person has pursued the least known, the path of most opposition, faced with a significant conscious decision. He was bound to go down one road, dreading that he could not take both, so he compromised one for another. Subsequently, it’s up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about the speaker’s emotional place at the end. It certainly made ‘all the difference,’ but Frost doesn’t make the difference transparent. By drawing upon the experiences and situations of his friend and formatting them in this way, Frost developed a narrative poem.

Conversely, this poem does not fit into the mold of dramatic poetry because it is talking about only one character taking the road not traveled. It also doesn’t offer a storyline consisting of suspense, anticipation, or immediacy with the character in the poem. It also does not fill the needs of a lyrical poem because the poem does not specifically touch on excessive romance and isn’t too song-like. It instead depicts a story interpreting how Frost took a chance at a different path than everyone else and ultimately finding success, leaving the audience with the message to not be afraid of doing things differently in order to achieve happiness.


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