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Poetry (the term derives from a variant of the Greek term, poiesis, "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Poetry has a long history, dating back to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. Early poems evolved from folk songs such as the Chinese Shijing, or from a need to retell oral epics, as with the Sanskrit Vedas, Zoroastrian Gathas, and the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Ancient attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric, drama, song and comedy. Later attempts concentrated on features such as repetition, verse form and rhyme, and emphasized the aesthetics which distinguish poetry from more objectively informative, prosaic forms of writing. From the mid-20th century, poetry has sometimes been more generally regarded as a fundamental creative act employing language.

fuji no kaze ya oogi ni nosete Edo miyage
the wind of Mt. Fuji
I've brought on my fan!
a gift from Edo
  • iamb – one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (e.g. describe, Include, retract)
  • trochee – one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable (e.g. picture, flower)
  • dactyl – one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables (e.g.annotate an-no-tate)
  • anapest – two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable (e.g. comprehend com-pre-hend)
  • spondee – two stressed syllables together (e.g. e-nough)
  • pyrrhic – two unstressed syllables together (rare, usually used to end dactylic hexameter)
  • Adams, Stephen J (1997). Poetic designs: an introduction to meters, verse forms and figures of speech. Broadview. ISBN . 
  • Corn, Alfred (1997). The Poem's Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody. Storyline Press. ISBN . 
  • Fussell, Paul (1965). Poetic Meter and Poetic Form. Random House. 
  • Hollander, John (1981). Rhyme's Reason. Yale University Press. ISBN . 
  • Pinsky, Robert (1998). The Sounds of Poetry. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN . 
  • Brooks, Cleanth (1947). The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry. Harcourt Brace & Company. 
  • Finch, Annie (2011). A Poet's Ear: A Handbook of Meter and Form. University of Michigan Press. ISBN . 
  • Fry, Stephen (2007). The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within. Arrow Books. ISBN . 
  • Pound, Ezra (1951). ABC of Reading. Faber. 
  • Preminger, Alex; Brogan, Terry VF; Warnke, Frank J (eds.). The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (3rd ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN . 
  • Tatarkiewicz, Władysław, "The Concept of Poetry", translated by Christopher Kasparek, Dialectics and Humanism: The Polish Philosophical Quarterly, vol. II, no. 2 (spring 1975), published in Warsaw under the auspices of the Polish Academy of Sciences by Polish Scientific Publishers, pp. 13–24. (The text contains some typographical errors.) A revised Polish-language version of this article appears as "Dwa pojęcia poezji" ("Two Concepts of Poetry") in the author's Parerga, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1978, pp. 20–38. Tatarkiewicz identifies two distinct concepts subsumed within the term "poetry": traditional poetic form (rhymed, rhythmic verse), now no longer deemed obligatory; and poetic content—a certain state of mind—which can be evoked not only by verbal arts but also by other arts—painting, sculpture, especially music—as well as by nature, scenery, history, and everyday life.


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