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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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).
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 .
Reference: "Poetry," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft
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