Poetry (ancient Greek: ποιεω (poieo) = I create) is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. It consists largely of oral or literary works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ from ordinary prose.
It may use condensed or compressed form to convey emotion or ideas to the reader's or listener's mind or ear; it may also use devices such as assonance and repetition to achieve musical or incantatory effects. Poems frequently rely for their effect on imagery, word association, and the musical qualities of the language used. The interactive layering of all these effects to generate meaning is what marks poetry.
Because of its nature of emphasising linguistic form rather than using language purely for its content, poetry is notoriously difficult to translate from one language into another: a possible exception to this might be the Hebrew Psalms, where the beauty is found more in the balance of ideas than in specific vocabulary. In most poetry, it is the connotations and the "baggage" that words carry (the weight of words) that are most important. These shades and nuances of meaning can be difficult to interpret and can cause different readers to "hear" a particular piece of poetry differently. While there are reasonable interpretations, there can never be a definitive interpretation.
Nature of poetry
Poetry can be differentiated most of the time from prose, which is language meant to convey meaning in a more expansive and less condensed way, frequently using more complete logical or narrative structures than poetry does. This does not necessarily imply that poetry is illogical, but rather that poetry is often created from the need to escape the logical, as well as expressing feelings and other expressions in a tight, condensed manner. English Romantic poet John Keats termed this escape from logic Negative Capability. A further complication is that prose poetry combines the characteristics of poetry with the superficial appearance of prose, such as in Robert Frost's poem, "Home Burial." Other forms include narrative poetry and dramatic poetry, both of which are used to tell stories and so resemble novels and plays. However, both these forms of poetry use the specific features of verse composition to make these stories more memorable or to enhance them in some way.
What is generally accepted as "great" poetry is debatable in many cases. "Great" poetry usually follows the characteristics listed above, but it is also set apart by its complexity and sophistication. "Great" poetry generally captures images vividly and in an original, refreshing way, while weaving together an intricate combination of elements like theme tension, complex emotion, and profound reflective thought. For examples of what is considered "great" poetry, visit the Pulitzer prize and Nobel prize sections for poetry.
The Greek verb ποιεω [poiéo (= I make or create)], gave rise to three words: ποιητης [poiet?s (= the one who creates)], ποιησις [poíesis (= the act of creation)] and ποιημα [poíema (= the thing created)]. From these we get three English words: poet (the creator), poesy (the creation) and poem (the created). A poet is therefore one who creates and poetry is what the poet creates. The underlying concept of the poet as creator is not uncommon. For example, in Anglo-Saxon a poet is a scop (shaper or maker) and in Scots makar.
Sound in poetry
Perhaps the most vital element of sound in poetry is rhythm. Often the rhythm of each line is arranged in a particular meter. Different types of meter played key roles in Classical, Early European, Eastern and Modern poetry. In the case of free verse, the rhythm of lines is often organized into looser units of cadence.
Poetry in English and other modern European languages often uses rhyme. Rhyme at the end of lines is the basis of a number of common poetic forms, such as ballads, sonnets and rhyming couplets. However, the use of rhyme is not universal. Much modern poetry, for example, avoids traditional rhyme schemes. Furthermore, Classical Greek and Latin poetry did not use rhyme. In fact, rhyme did not enter European poetry at all until the High Middle Ages, when it was adopted from the Arabic language. The Arabs have always used rhymes extensively, most notably in their long, rhyming qasidas. Some classical poetry forms, such as Venpa of the Tamil language, had rigid grammars (to the point that they could be expressed as a context-free grammar), which ensured a rhythm.
Alliteration played a key role in structuring early Germanic and English forms of poetry (called alliterative verse), akin to the role of rhyme in later European poetry. The alliterative patterns of early Germanic poetry and the rhyme schemes of Modern European poetry alike both include meter as a key part of their structure, which determines when the listener expects instances of rhyme or alliteration to occur. In this sense, both alliteration and rhyme, when used in poetic structures, help to emphasise and define a rhythmic pattern. By contrast, the chief device of Biblical poetry in ancient Hebrew was parallelism, a rhetorical structure in which successive lines reflected each other in grammatical structure, sound structure, notional content, or all three; a verse form that lent itself to antiphonal or call- and-response performance.
In addition to the forms of rhyme, alliteration and rhythm that structure much poetry, sound plays a more subtle role in even free verse poetry in creating pleasing, varied patterns and emphasising or sometimes even illustrating semantic elements of the poem. Devices such as alliteration, assonance, consonance, dissonance and internal rhyme are among the ways poets use sound. Euphony refers to the musical, flowing quality of words arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Courtesy: poetry.org and More Information please visit: http://www.poetry.org/whatis.htm
Types of Poetry