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by Benedicto Carpio 
 
 
         Compression, extensive use of imagery, and a strong emotional-and frequently sensuous-component are characteristic of lyric poetry. The other major divisions of poetry, narrative (including epics, ballads, metrical romances, and verse tales) and dramatic (poetry as direct speech in specified circumstances), are more easily characterized. Lyric poetry, however, covers everything from hymns, lullabies, drinking songs, and folk songs to the great variety of love songs and poems; from savage political satires to rarefied philosophical poetry; from verse epistles to odes; and from 2-line epigrams or 14-line sonnets to lengthy reflective lyrics and substantial elegies. The content of lyric poetry reflects the variety of concerns of human beings in every period and in every region of the world.
   
   
   
Epic Ballad Satire
Romance Ode
Haiku
Imagism
Elegy
      Epigram Lyric
  
    Epic, long narrative poem, majestic both in theme and style. Epics deal with legendary or historical events of national or universal significance, involving action of broad sweep and grandeur. Most epics deal with the exploits of a single individual, thereby giving unity to the composition. Typically, an epic includes several features: the introduction of supernatural forces that shape the action; conflict in the form of battles or other physical combat; and stylistic conventions such as an invocation to the Muse, a formal statement of the theme, long lists of the protagonists involved, and set speeches couched in elevated language. Commonplace details of everyday life may appear, but they serve as background for the story and are described in the same lofty style as the rest of the poem. 

          The Greeks distinguished epic from lyric poetry, both by its nature and its manner of delivery; lyric poetry expressed more personal emotion than epic poetry and was sung, whereas epic poetry was recited. 

          Epic poems are not merely entertaining stories of legendary or historical heroes; they summarize and express the nature or ideals of an entire nation at a significant or crucial period of its history. Examples include the ancient Greek epics by the poet Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The characteristics of the hero of an epic are national rather than individual, and the exercise of those traits in heroic deeds serves to gratify a sense of national pride. At other times epics may synthesize the ideals of a great religious or cultural movement. The Divine Comedy (1307-1321) by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri expresses the faith of medieval Christianity. The Faerie Queene (1590-1609) by the English poet Edmund Spenser represents the spirit of the Renaissance in England and like Paradise Lost (1667) by the English poet John Milton, represents the ideals of Christian humanism. 

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     Ballad, short narrative folk song that fixes on the most dramatic part of a story, moving to its conclusion by means of dialogue and a series of incidents. The word ballad was first used in a general sense to mean a simple short poem. Such a poem could be narrative or lyric, sung or not sung, crude or polite, sentimental or satiric, religious or secular; it was vaguely associated with dance. The word is still commonly used in this loose fashion. In the field of folklore, however, ballad is applied specifically to the kind of narrative folk song described in the opening lines. These narrative songs represent a type of literature and music that developed across Europe in the late Middle Ages. Unlike the medieval romances and rhymed tales, ballads tend to have a tight dramatic structure that sometimes omits all preliminary material, all exposition and description, even all motivation, to focus on the climactic scene (as in the British "Lord Randall"). It is as though the ballad presented only the last act of a play, leaving the listener or reader to supply the antecedent material. When the ballad emerged, it was a new form of art and literature, distinct from anything that had gone before. 

           Ranging from detailed, fully plotted narratives to almost purely lyric songs, the ballads of different lands and eras are remarkably varied. Moreover, within the variants of any particular ballad, great differences in structure may exist. Because it is transmitted orally, each ballad is subject to continual change; for instance, England's "The Waggoner's Lad" began with a full plot, but its American derivative "On Top of Old Smoky" is a near lyric. Generally, the closer a ballad is to polite literature, the more detail it carries. Oral tradition tends to discard nonessential elements. 
Romance (literature), literary genre popular in the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century), dealing, in verse or prose, with legendary, supernatural, or amorous subjects and characters. The name refers to Romance languages and originally denoted any lengthy composition in one of those languages. Later the term was applied to tales specifically concerned with knights, chivalry, and courtly love. The romance and the epic are similar forms, but epics tend to be longer and less concerned with courtly love. 

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    Romances began to appear in western Europe in the 12th century and reached their greatest popularity in the late 13th century; they remained in vogue until the Renaissance (14th century to 17th century). At first, they were related orally by troubadours and trouvères. Subsequently, they were written by court musicians, clerics, scribes, and aristocrats for the entertainment and moral edification of the nobility. Popular subjects for romances included the Macedonian king Alexander the Great, King Arthur of Britain and the knights of the Round Table, and the Frankish emperor Charlemagne. The Arthurian romances fall into three broad groups (see Arthurian Legend). Some, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (anonymous, 1370?), are tales that involve the moral testing of a young knight. Others, such as Tristan und Isolt (1210) by the German poet Gottfried von Strassburg, describe the conflict between passion and duty. The third group, exemplified by the romance Percival, or the Story of the Grail (12th century) by the French poet Chrétien de Troyes, is concerned with the search for the Holy Grail. 

           Some romances were linked to ballads. Aucassin and Nicolette (anonymous, 13th century), one such chant-fable, or song-story, is about two young lovers. Romances also often had their basis in classical legends. Sir Orfeo (1480?) by the Italian poet Politian, for example, recounts the Orpheus and Eurydice story from Greek mythology but places it in a medieval setting. Eventually, a tradition of sophisticated contemporary romances developed, typified by the 13th-century French poem Le Roman de la Rose. This dream allegory, based on the courtly love traditions of the time, contains little history or legend. 
Later prose and verse narratives, particularly those in the 19th-century romantic tradition, are also referred to as romances; set in distant or mythological places and times, like most romances they stress adventure and supernatural elements. 

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    Satire, in literature, prose or verse that employs wit in the form of irony, innuendo, or outright derision to expose human wickedness and folly. The term is derived from the Latin satura, meaning a "medley" or "mixture," and is related to the Latin adjective satur, "replete." In the Renaissance (14th century to 17th century), as a result of false etymology, the word was confused with satyr, and so took on the connotation of lasciviousness and crude mockery. In ancient times, however, it was agreed that satires were intended to tax weaknesses and to correct vice wherever found. 
Epistle (Greek epistellein, "to send to"), formal and instructive letter, often intended for publication. The epistolary form was familiar among the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The Greek philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus made notable use of it. Twenty-one books of the New Testament are epistles written by the apostles to members of the early church. Since the Renaissance the epistle, in verse and prose, has held a prominent place in literature. Examples of the literary epistle are Lettres provinciales (1656-57), by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal; the Drapier's Letters (1724-25), by the English satirist Jonathan Swift; and An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (1735), in verse, by the English poet Alexander Pope. 

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    Ode, dignified and elaborately structured lyric poem praising and glorifying an individual, commemorating an event, or describing nature intellectually rather than emotionally. Odes originally were songs performed to the accompaniment of a musical instrument. 

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 Epigram, in literature, a terse, pointed, frequently witty observation, often in verse. Ancient Greek epigrams were inscriptions on tombs or statues. Latin poets, including Catullus, Juvenal, and especially Martial, developed the epigram as a short satire in verse, with a twist or thrust at the end. Among writers in English regarded as master epigrammatists are John Donne, Robert Herrick, Ben Jonson, John Dryden, Jonathan Swift, and especially Alexander Pope, who in the 18th century perfected a form of epigrammatic couplet. Samuel Taylor Coleridge used the form early in the 19th century, and Oscar Wilde was a famous epigrammatist late in the century. In French, Voltaire and Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux both wrote memorable epigrams, as did G. E. Lessing in German. A literary form similar to the epigram occurs in Chinese and Japanese literature. The term has also been loosely applied to any aphorism or short popular saying. 
Sonnet, lyric poem of 14 lines with a formal rhyme scheme, expressing different aspects of a single thought, mood, or feeling, sometimes resolved or summed up in the last lines of the poem. Originally short poems accompanied by mandolin or lute music, sonnets are generally composed in the standard meter of the language in which they were written-for example, iambic pentameter in English, and the Alexandrine in French (see Versification). 
The two main forms of the sonnet are the Petrarchan, or Italian, and the English, or Shakespearean. The former probably developed from the stanza form of the canzone or from Italian folk song. 

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 Lyric, short poem that conveys intense feeling or profound thought. In ancient Greece, lyrics were sung or recited to the accompaniment of the lyre. Elegies and odes were popular forms of the lyric in classical times. The lyric poets of ancient Greece included Sappho, Alcaeus, and Pindar; the major Roman lyric poets included Horace, Ovid, and Catullus. Lyrical poetry was also written in ancient India and China; and the Japanese verse called haiku is a lyric. 

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 Elegy, originally, in classical Greek and Roman literature, a poem composed of distichs, or couplets. Classical elegies addressed various subjects, including love, lamentation, and politics, and were characterized by their metric form. Ancient poets who used the elegiac form include the Alexandrian Callimachus and the Roman Catullus. In modern poetry (since the 16th century) elegies have been characterized not by their form but by their content, which is invariably melancholy and centers on death. The best-known elegy in English is Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751), by the English poet Thomas Gray, which treats not just a single death but the human condition as well. 
A distinct category of elegy, the pastoral elegy, has its roots in Greek and Sicilian poetry of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Using formal conventions, which developed gradually over centuries, pastoral elegists mourn a subject by representing the mourner and the subject as shepherds in a pastoral setting. The most famous example of the pastoral elegy is Lycidas (1638), by the English poet John Milton. 
In music the term elegy is frequently applied to a mournful composition. 
A clear distinction exists between poetry as pure art form and most so-called didactic poetry, which at its extreme is merely material that has been versified as an aid to memory (such as, "Thirty days hath September") or to make the learning process more pleasant. Where the emphasis is on communication of knowledge for its own sake or on practical instruction, the designation poetry is rather a misnomer. In such works, the rules of ordinary discourse apply, rather than those of poetic art. Clarity, logical arrangement, and completeness of presentation are valued over the poetic projection of human experience, although didactic materials, like any others, can also serve this poetic end if handled properly. This distinction between poetry as art and poetry as versified discourse is part of the larger question of the boundaries of imaginative literature, a problem treated with particular incisiveness by American philosopher Susanne K. Langer. Her book Feeling and Form (1953) discusses the difference between the use of language for ordinary communication, as in expository writing, and its use as an artistic medium. 

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   Among lyric poets, Japanese writers of verse are unequalled in the extreme compression of their poetry. Two important forms are the tanka, which has existed since the 7th century AD, and the haiku, which dates from the 16th century and had a marked effect on Western poets at the beginning of the 20th century. Both forms are unrhymed and in syllabic meter: The tanka is five lines of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables, and the haiku is three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. (Longer poems also use these five- and seven-syllable lines, and shorter poems are frequently linked into sequences or are carefully arranged in anthologies to provide a cumulative effect.) 
Haiku, Japanese verse form, notable for its compression and suggestiveness. It consists of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. 
Traditionally and ideally, a haiku presents a pair of contrasting images, one suggestive of time and place, the other a vivid but fleeting observation. Working together, they evoke mood and emotion. The poet does not comment on the connection but leaves the synthesis of the two images for the reader to perceive. A haiku by the poet Bash, considered to have written the most perfect examples of the form, illustrates this duality:  

Now the swinging bridge
Is quieted with creepers
Like our tendrilled life.
 

          The haiku evolved from the earlier linked-verse form known as the renga and was used extensively by Zen Buddhist monks in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the next 200 years, the verse form achieved its greatest popularity and success. In addition to Bash?, important haiku poets include Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masuoka Shiki. 
The precise and concise nature of haiku influenced the early 20th-century Anglo-American poetic movement known as imagism. The writing of haiku is still practiced by thousands of Japanese who annually publish outstanding examples in the many magazines devoted to the art. 

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 Imagism, poetic movement that flourished in the U.S. and England between 1909 and 1917. The movement was led by the American poets Ezra Pound and, later, Amy Lowell. Other imagist poets were the English writers D. H. Lawrence and Richard Aldington and the American poets John Gould Fletcher and Hilda Doolittle. These poets issued manifestos and wrote poems and essays embodying their theories. They placed primary reliance on the use of precise, sharp images as a means of poetic expression and stressed precision in the choice of words, freedom in the choice of subject matter and form, and the use of colloquial language. Most of the imagist poets wrote in free verse, using such devices as assonance and alliteration rather than formal metrical schemes to give structure to their poetry. Notable collections of imagist poetry are Des Imagistes: An Anthology (1914), compiled by Pound, and the three anthologies compiled by Amy Lowell, all under the title Some Imagist Poets (1915, 1916, 1917). 
Some of the short poems by 20th-century American poet Ezra Pound capture much of the haiku quality. His poem "Fan-Piece, for Her Imperial Lord" (1926), for instance, although based on a 1st-century BC Chinese poem (much longer in the original but still terse by Western standards), is quite Japanese in its prosody and effect: 

           Two simple yet emotionally and sensuously powerful images-one evoking a courtly, gracious style of living, the other suggesting both the end of summer and the frosting over of vibrant life (which applies to the woman's sense of her own situation)-are associated in this work. They join with the lightly sketched motion of laying the fan aside-as the woman "also" has been laid aside by her "Imperial Lord." The three short lines exquisitely suggest, without any direct comment, the poignant end of a relationship and of a whole way of life. The original Chinese poem also allows the images, for the most part, to speak for themselves, with little direct comment, and it was this aspect that especially appealed to European poets. Also, the rhymeless Japanese tradition that Pound followed in his translation-adaptation gave an added impetus to the development of free verse in English. Pound's "Fan-Piece" may therefore be considered either as a syllabic (five, seven, seven) poem, or as one alluding specifically to the haiku tradition in its content and number of words (five, seven, five), or as an outstanding example of free verse of the imagist school . 
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Reference:  "Poetry," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft 

   
       
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