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Last Updated July 20, 2023.

Poetry is a literary form of expression that carefully arranges words in order to tell a story, evoke emotions, and convey ideas. Poems are often divided into lines or stanzas and will occasionally take on a rhythmic tone. Throughout the ages, spanning from antiquity's epic sagas to contemporary verses, poetry has served as a medium for personal introspection, social commentary, and artistic exploration.

One of the defining features of poetry is its use of language. Poets carefully select words, arrange them in specific patterns, and employ various literary devices to create a unique and moving experience for the reader. Meter, rhyme, alliteration, metaphor, and simile are just some examples of the tools poets utilize to create imagery and feeling within their verses and in turn the reader.

The origins of poetry can be traced back to the earliest civilizations. Ancient societies such as the Egyptians and Greeks developed poetic traditions as a means of storytelling, preserving cultural heritage, and honoring deities. Epic poems like "The Epic of Gilgamesh" and "The Iliad" were orally transmitted and played a significant role in the shaping of these ancient cultures.

Throughout history, poetry has reflected the values, beliefs, and aspirations of societies. In the Middle Ages, singers composed courtly love poetry, while the Renaissance witnessed the emergence of sonnets as a popular form of expression. The Romantic period, with poets like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, celebrated individualism, the beauty of nature, and the power of imagination. The Modernist movement, led by poets such as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, experimented with unconventional forms and explored the fragmented nature of the human experience.

Poetry offers a unique platform for reflection and self-expression. Many poets use their craft as a means of exploring their inner thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Through the artful arrangement of words, they delve into personal struggles, joys, and sorrows, inviting readers to share in their journey of self-discovery. Poems like Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" or Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" resonate with audiences because they touch upon universal themes of choice, resilience, and personal growth.

Furthermore, poetry often serves as a medium for social observation and critique. Poets have long used their verses to address societal issues, challenge prevailing norms, and advocate for change. From William Blake's critique of child labor in "Songs of Innocence and Experience" to Langston Hughes' exploration of racial identity in the Harlem Renaissance, poetry has been a powerful tool for amplifying marginalized voices and sparking conversations about social justice. Engaging in the reading or creation of poetry can bring comfort, serve as an emotional release, and contribute to individual development.

Poetry is a rich and multifaceted art form that has captivated audiences across cultures and time periods. Its unique use of language, imagery, and rhythm allows poets to convey complex emotions, share personal experiences, and remark on social issues. Whether exploring the depths of human nature, reflecting on the beauty of the natural world, or advocating for change, poetry continues to be a powerful medium of expression and a timeless source of inspiration.

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