A single picture can present a beautiful story. It can speak a thousand words. In the same manner some words can draw a thousand pictures. Consider the kitchen, for instance. What does the name bring in your mind? For many, it represents a remarkable cooking space with utensils, dining equipment, cutlery, fire, and everything else a kitchen holds. However, it is only in the way the word is used that such images come in your mind. And that is where poetry comes in. Poetry does use words to draw pictures.
Poetry can be seen as an artistic construction of words to evoke emotions or otherwise deliver information. The word poetry comes from the Greek term “poiesis,” which means “making.” It is a form of creative writing that utilizes aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke meanings. A poet uses elements such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and meter, among others, to create a piece of art for meaning.
Poetry is one of the oldest forms of creative writing, dating back to prehistoric times. It was performed as chants and or traditional songs in religious activities. In Africa, there is evidence of hunting poetry, panegyric, and elegiac court poetry of the Nile empires in Niger and Volta river valleys. The pyramids contain evidence of these poetic texts written during the 25th century.
In the Eurasian continent, early poems are linked to fork songs. For instance, the Chinese Shijing is seen as both poetic and entertaining. Others originated from the need to retell oral epics, like the Sanskrit Vedas and the Homeric epics. An attempt to define poetry begun with ancient Greek philosophers, like Aristotle, who focused on the use of rhetoric in speech, drama, songs, and comedy. Later scholars, started using repetition, verse forms, and rhyme with an emphasis on the use of aesthetics. This definition distinguishes poetry from other types of writing.
Poetry employs the use of forms and conventions to suggest a different interpretation of words or bring out emotional responses. Different stylistic devices such as assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhythm are used in many cases to achieve musical effects. These devices can also create effects of incantation. It also offers a wide use of ambiguity, symbolism, irony, and other stylistic elements that make a poem. The resonance between visible images and hidden meaning is achieved through the use of figures like metaphor, simile, and metonymy.
Poems create meaning in words. Although there is hidden meaning inside, a keen reader can quickly get the message out. Other types of poetry are specific to certain cultures and genres. They respond to the characteristics of the languages in which they are written. But today, globalization has made it possible for poets to adapt forms, styles, and techniques from varying places.
As stated above, poetry uses different stylistic devices to achieve effects. Some of them include meter, rhythm, and intonation. The study of these devices is called prosody. They may be closely related, but meter and rhythm have distinctive features that make them different. Meter is specific to verse, while rhythm is the actual sound in a line.
Every language and dialect has its ways of creating rhythm in poetry. Scholars describe languages as having timing set mainly by accents, syllables, or moras. They all depend on how rhythm is achieved. We can, therefore, say that the pitch and or tone of a language may affect the poetic rhythm. There is also a metrical rhythm that can be achieved the exact arrangement of stresses of syllables into repeated patterns. This is called feet within a line. In today’s English verse, feet are differentiated by different patterns of stresses, meaning that rhythm depends on meter.
In the tradition of western poetry, it is a custom to group meter according to characteristic metrical foot. Description of the number of metrical feet in a line follows Greek terminology. Tetrameter means four meters, and hexameter means six. Therefore, iamb will define an iambic pentameter, which has five feet in every line. Many poets, including William Shakespeare, used Iambic pentameter and dactylic hexameter. English poetry uses common metrical feet called iamb, trochee, dactyl, anapaest, and spondee.
Different traditions are genres that have varying approached to meter. For instance, many follow the Shakespearean iambic pentameter and the Homeric dactylic hexameter. However, there is a chance of finding several variations in these meters. For example, some writers have adapted the use of inverted stress in a foot called a caesura to achieve stress. Apart from this, different traditions and languages have varying stress, which can bring about more variations.
Poetry is different from other forms of creative writing from the way repetitive patterns occur. These patterns are created through rhyme, assonance, and alliteration. Rhyme includes identical sounds appearing at the end of lines or predictable parts in a stanza. Different languages have different richness of rhyming words, and not all are the same. Italian, for instance, has the richest rhyming patterns in the world.
Alliteration involves the repetition of letters on or letter-sounds at the beginning of two immediate words. It can also be a reappearance of similar sounds at short intervals, or in an accented section of the words. Alliteration is used to achieve a great rhyming structure inside a poem. Whereas alliteration involves consonants, assonance is the same, only with vowel sounds at the beginning or end of a word.
Poets use rhyming schemes to create specific poetic forms. Rhymes in ballads differed from rhyming in sonnets and couplets. This is mostly in modern European and Arabic languages. In traditional languages, the use of structural rhyme was universal.
In most cases today, letters that correspond to the sets of rhyme define what rhyme scheme is applied. Other complicated rhyme schemes have developed their names, far from the normal a-bc. But they all achieve the same goal as the normal schemes of today.
Poetry has remained the same over the years. Even though some variations can be seen, especially in the use of elements, compared to traditional styles, poets still refer to traditional approaches. For poetry appreciation, identifying these patterns and relating them can help establish good understanding.
Mar 31, 2020