Guide to Literary Terms

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What is poetry?

Poetry is a literary genre that uses highly patterned language, emphasizing meter and rhyme, as well as imagery and metaphor.

Poetry

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Last Updated on December 6, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 202

Poetry - a literary work in metrical form or patterned language. The term is also used to describe the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, which is designed to produce pleasure through beautiful, elevated, imaginative, or profound thoughts.

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The etymology of “poetry” is the same as that of “poetic” discussed under “poetic justice.”

Aristotle divided poetry into three genres which have each spawned other genres:

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1. epic, which included narratives of heroic action and events of more than personal significance

2. lyric, which was originally meant to be sung

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Latest answer posted December 3, 2015, 2:31 pm (UTC)

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3. satire, which was the moral censure of evil, pretension, or anti-social behavior

Shakespeare discusses poetry in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Theseus speaks of love:

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet

Are of imagination all compact.

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;

Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.

The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.

Act V, scene i : lines 7 – 17

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