The views of Horace expressed in The Art of Poetry are applicable to what type of poem?

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kmcappello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Art of Poetry is an ars poetica, in which a writer outlines his or her theories of poetry.  The ancient writer Horace first wrote this version of an ars poetica as a letter to his friend and sons.  In verse, he outlines what makes a poem bad or good.  He argues against "purple phrases" and strange images added in merely for shock value.  Instead, he states, simplicity, brevity, and consistency should be the goal.  Feelings on the part of the author must be present; beautiful language is not enough.  Poets should write from personal experience, and their goal should be to entertain readers as well as instruct them in morality.

Poems which reflect Horace's theory of poetry will be, therefore, simple, entertaining, and based in reality.  They will be highly emotional and will contain no extraneous, off-the-wall imagery.  They even offer a life lesson, or at least present the poet's views on life.  I can think of a handful of poets to whom these tenets are applicable.  Shakespeare's plays reflect his time period, are restricted by his use of form, and often have a kind of moral to the story.  The work of Wordsworth is also based on real life.  His work is highly emotional and vivid, and reflects his particular world view.  Another example could be the sonnets of Rainer Maria Rilke.  Again, the use of form keeps the pieces elegantly brief, and the work is emotionally poignant while still employing the use of concrete imagery.

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The Art of Poetry

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