Which of these are poems and which aren't? just say yes or no! Pick one poem and explain what makes it a poem. "Swan Swan H" By R.E.M., "Winter" By Tori Amos, "I'm On Fire" by Bruce Springsteen, "Urn" by Childish Gambino, "Close To You" by Frank Ocean, "Sunday Morning Coming Down" by Kris Kristofferson, "Twisting" by They Might be Giants, "Summertime" by George Gershwin, "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley (originally by Leonard Cohen), "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths, "Peek-A-Boo" by Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Lullaby" by The Cure, "C'mon C'mon" by The Von Bondies, "Walk On The Wild Side" by Lou Reed, and "A Boy Named Sue" by Johnny Cash


Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Personally, I would consider each of these a poem. However, you should make a decision based on your own personal interpretation of each song and its lyrics. To do that, you'll need to know what a poem actually is. Poetry, like most forms of art, is hard to define. In the past, poems tended to follow a predictable format. Because of that, when you knew the various patterns a poem could follow, determining whether something was or wasn't poetry definitively was easy.

Today, determining whether something is a poem or not is more complex. Modern poetry is often free-form; it doesn't follow any particular pattern. So, how can you say whether something is or isn't a poem? Ultimately, it's up to the interpretation of the person who's reading the poem or listening to lyrics.

I would suggest that something is poetry when it makes you feel something. Take for example, There is a Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths. The song uses lyrics like "Take me out tonight, because I want to see people and I want to see life". Other lines include "To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die" and "There is a light that never goes out". Each of these lines expresses a feeling in an artistic way. That's what poetry is at its core.

Songs like the ones you listed also have the benefit of being accompanied by music. When lyrics are sung to a melody and with instruments, their capacity to make us feel something is increased tenfold. Listen to each of these songs and see how you feel while doing so. That will be a great way to guide your response.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial