Deborah Cruz Alemán 842-06-1644 EDPE4078 February 27, 2007

Poetry is a form of verbal art in which language is used for its artistic and evocative qualities in addition to, or instead of, its external meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymns or lyrics.

History of Poetry

Poetry was employed as a means of recording oral history, storytelling (epic poetry), genealogy, and law. Many of the scriptures currently held to be sacred by contemporary religious traditions with their roots in antiquity were composed as poetry rather than prose to aid memorization and help guarantee the accuracy of oral transmission in pre-literate societies.

Poetry appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures, with poetic fragments found on early monoliths, rune stones and stelae. Classical thinkers employed classification as a way to define and assess the quality of poetry. Notably, the existing fragments of Aristotle's Poetics describe three genres of poetry: the epic, the comic, and the tragic.

Basic elements

Prosody is the study of the meter, rhythm, and intonation of a poem. Prosody also may be used more specifically to refer to the scanning of poetic lines to show meter.


Rhythm is the actual sound that results from a line of poetry. The methods for creating poetic rhythm vary across languages and between poetic traditions.


Meter is the definitive pattern established for a verse, such as iambic pentameter. Meter is often scanned based on the arrangement of "poetic feet" into lines. In the Western poetic tradition, meters are customarily grouped according to a characteristic metrical foot and the number of feet per line.

The most commonly used kinds of feet include:

Trochee: one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable Iamb: unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable Dactyl: one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables Anapest: two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable Spondee: two stressed syllables together

Metrical Feet
Dimeter: two feet  Trimeter: three feet  Tetrameter: four feet  Pentameter: five feet  Hexameter: six feet  Heptameter: seven feet  Octameter: eight feet

Rhyme, alliteration, assonance
Rhyme, alliteration, assonance and consonance are ways of creating repetitive patterns of sound.  They may be used as an independent structural element in a poem, to reinforce rhythmic patterns, or as an ornamental element.

Rhyming schemes
In many languages, including modern European languages and Arabic, poets use rhyme in set patterns as a structural element for specific poet forms, such as ballads, sonnets and rhyming couplets.  Most rhyme schemes are described using letters that correspond to sets of rhymes, so if the first, second and fourth lines of a quatrain rhyme with each other and the third line does not rhyme, the quatrain is said to have an "aa-b-a" rhyme scheme.

Visual presentation

Even before the advent of printing, the appearance of written poetry often added significant meaning or depth. Acrostic poems included clues or meanings in the letters beginning lines or in other specific places in a poem.

In Arabic, Hebrew, and Chinese poetry, the presentation of the poems in fine calligraphy has always been an important part of the overall artistic and poetic effect for many poems.

Poetic forms

Specific poetic forms have been developed by many cultures. In more developed, closed or "received" poetic forms, the rhyming scheme, meter and other elements of a poem are based on sets of rules, ranging from the relatively loose rules that govern the construction of an elegy to the highly formalized structure of the ghazal or villanelle.


Among the most common form of poetry through the ages is the sonnet, which, by the thirteenth century, was a poem of fourteen lines following a set rhyme scheme and logical structure.