Isn't poetry essentially song lyrics? Particularly the song "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It's true that lyrics are essentially poems.  In fact, the early recorded poetry we have in English literature was actually sung by traveling poets called scops.  They would move from place to place, staying for a short period of time, entertaining at banquets and feasts around the country to earn their keep.  You may have heard of Beowulf, which was sung for over a century before it was finally written down by monks in the Middle Ages.

Lyrics do often share some common characteristics with poetry, elements such as rhyme, meter, figurative language, repetition, and chorus/refrain.  Often lyrics, because they are set to music, do have anomalies, such as elongated lines or staccato phrases to match the music.  Generally, though, looking at a lyric is just like looking at a poem.

I'm not familiar with "Gravity," but a look at one of the stanzas will demonstrate what I mean:

You hold me without touch.

You keep me without chains.

I never wanted anything so much

Than to drown in your love and not feel your rain.

There is a clear rhyme scheme (ABAB), parallel structure (first two lines), and figurative language (clearly the drowning here is not literal, and no person can produce rain).  Notice, too, the length of the last line; a poem would generally not break the meter with such a long line, though it obviously fits the music for this song.

In short, a poem and a lyric are clearly more similar than different.

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honestobetsy | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Thank you. We are currently looking at poetry in American Lit II and I am having a hard time with it. I thought if I could assimilate it with something I liked I would understand it better. It has been so long since I have been a student. This particular course covers works selected from 1865 to present. Emphasis is placed on historical backround, cultural context, and literary analysis of sected prose, poetry, and drama. Maybe I should just start singing the selctions and I might start to get them. :)

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