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What is Poetic Language?

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The term "poetic language" is used to highlight the differences between poetry and other forms of speech. The specific nature of what is considered poetic varies over period and culture. In those cultures that do make such distinctions, however, the term "poetic language" is one which distinguishes elements more common in poetry than in non-poetic written genres or ordinary speech.

In many languages, poetry is distinguished by its use of regular patterns of sound, such as alternation of long and short or stressed and unstressed syllables or repetition of similar sounds at regular intervals or in close proximity. Poetry also often uses unusual patterns of word order, often for the sake of metrical regularity.

In traditional cultures, poetry may use archaic words and grammatical structures which are no longer in ordinary use. Heightened or unusual language and figures of speech are also often characteristic of poetry.

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Poetic language is the language most often (but not exclusively) used in poetry. The key is that poetry is much more compressed than fiction (short stories or novels for instance). Since the language is denser in a poem, the word order is so much more significant. For instance, a poem and a short story may both attempt to convey the the beauty of nature, but the poem will do so in three stanzas while the short story will do it on three pages. To get the same point across, the poem has to rely on a number of techniques that will evoke emotions in a reader. These techniques are called poetic devices and may include rhyming, metaphors, similes, etc. Unlike fiction, poetry or poetic language does not have to follow grammatical rules, which allows readers to sort of unpack the poem and make meaning. Through the use of poetic...

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