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Poetry Definition - A True Description and Explanation

By Gary R. Hess. Category: Poetry

What is poetry? It sounds like a simple question with a simple answer, but the answer is actually quite complex. So what exactly is poetry?

Everyone seems to have their own description of what it is. Even if you ask three different poets, they will all give a different explanation than the others. However, there are always some similarities between definitions.

A poem is more than rhyming. In fact, poetry doesn't even have to rhyme. The main ingredients are movement and sound (although even that can be debated). These two things along with "feeling" make up a somewhat dysfunctional definition of what poetry is.

Definition of Poetry

  1. The art or work of a poet.
    • Poems regarded as forming a division of literature.
    • The poetic works of a given author, group, nation, or kind.
  2. A piece of literature written in meter; verse.
  3. Prose that resembles a poem in some respect, as in form or sound.
  4. The essence or characteristic quality of a poem.
  5. A quality that suggests poetry, as in grace, beauty, or harmony: the poetry of the dancer's movements.

Poetry according to William Wordworth

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.
(from Quotes about Poetry)

In a nutshell

If you are still having problems finding out exactly what a poem is, I'll try to explain it a bit more.

Poetry is a type of art which allows writers to use their imagination and creativity that other forms of literature don't allow. You are given a much wider range of techniques and styles, and elements to work with. However, you must use them carefully, uniquely, and wisely. It is a tough deed to undertake, but it is also a favorite among many artists.

Many writers consider poetry to be the hardest yet most fulfilling form of literature. And rightly so. The amount of elements, techniques, and creativity is unanswered in the prose world.

Poets put immense pressure on themselves to come up with something that follows a specific rhythm and style. They spend hours upon hours thinking about every single word that should be used. The general feeling among the poetry world is that a poem should take the exact same amount of time it takes to write a short story or book, depending on the length of the poem.

How many amateur writers do that? They generally write what they feel and call it a poem. However, that's not what famous authors throughout history have done.