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What are the similarities and differences between poetry and prose?

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beneflo | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 27, 2012 at 3:12 AM via web

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What are the similarities and differences between poetry and prose?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 27, 2012 at 3:22 AM (Answer #1)

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This is a great question. There are many similarities and differences. Let me make a list for you.

Both prose and poetry are literature that seek to express a point. They both can be artistic and require skill and lots of practice. So, from the point of view of creativity, artistry, and other literary points of view, there is much in common. So, we can say that there is very fine line between poetry and prose.  What separates poetry from prose generally speaking are the followings:

First, poetry is governed by meter. For example, if you read the works of Homer it is written in the dactylic hexameter. Virgil also uses this in his Aeneid, and Lucretius in his, De Rerum Natura. There are many meters and some of them even sound like prose, which makes this very confusing, such as the works of Plautus, the Roman poet.

Second, poetry also tends to follow certain patterns, whether they be couplets, rhymes or other artistic conventions. Prose does not follow patters or better yet does not have to do so.


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theyellowbookworm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted December 1, 2014 at 1:46 AM (Answer #2)

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Prose can be defined as everyday language. Prose does not adhere to metrical structure or rhyme. Instead, prose is identified as the natural flow of colloquial language. Prose comes from the Latin term “prosa oratio,” which means straightforward or direct speech. In short, prose can be described as anything that is not poetry. There are two major types of prose:

  • Informal / Conversational Prose

Informal prose is inherently relaxed and familiar. It is the type of language that you might expect to hear in conversation. Informal prose can also be written. In fact, most writing follows this form of prose.

  •  Formal / Elevated Prose

Elevated prose, such as you might see in academic writing or creative non-fiction, is a more formal way of writing. Formal prose often uses elevated diction, imagery, or complex syntax.

In contrast to prose, poetry is a form of metrical composition that has a distinctive style and rhythm. Poetry is defined by its meter, or what we call prosody. These are the regular patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables in the poem. Some poetry is also governed by rhyme. Common types of poems include the sonnet, elegy, ballad, epic, haiku, and free verse.

Similar to formal prose, many forms of poetry rely on elevated diction, imagery, and complex syntax. However, other forms of poetry, such as the ballad, draw from the colloquial types of language you might expect from informal prose.


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