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Major Poetic Movements Through the Ages

An incredibly brief introduction to epics, sonnets, Romantic poetry, free verse and song lyrics

Danielle Gellert

on 14 November 2017

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Transcript of Major Poetic Movements Through the Ages

What is poetry?

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
Khalil Gibran

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.
Robert Frost

Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.
Joseph Roux

Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity—it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
John Keats

A poem begins with a lump in the throat.
Robert Frost
Your turn:
Poetry is...
Poetry Through
the Ages
Epic Poetry
A long, narrative poem (tells a story)

Started in the Oral Tradition (before reading and writing was common) - poems were memorized and recited by travelling perfomers and often accompanied by music

Told tales of heroes that embodied the cultural ideal of fearless warriors, willing to die for honour and glory

"...let me not die ingloriously
without a fight, but in some great action
which those men yet to come will hear about.”

Hector finished speaking. He pulled out his sharp sword,
that strong and massive weapon hanging on his thigh,
gathered himself, then swooped like some high-flying eagle
plummeting to the plains down through the murky clouds
to seize a tender lamb or cowering rabbit—
that’s how Hector charged, brandishing his sharp sword.
Achilles attacked, as well, heart full of savage anger,
covering his chest with that richly decorated shield,
his shining four-ridged helmet nodding on his head,
the golden plumes Hephaestus had set there
shimmering around the crest.
notice the active imagery,
and the vivid description
of the weaponry that defined
the warrior
a true warrior wanted
nothing more than to
have their name remembered
Then on noble Hector’s corpse
he carried out a monstrous act. He cut through
the tendons behind both feet, from heel to ankle,
threaded them with ox-hide thongs, and then tied these
onto his chariot, leaving the head to drag behind.
He climbed up in his chariot, brought on the splendid armour,
then lashed his horses. They sped off eagerly,
dragging Hector. A dust cloud rose above him,
his dark hair spread out round him, and Hector’s head,
once so handsome, was covered by the dust, for Zeus
had given him to his enemies to dishonour
in his own native land.
used epithets (descriptive
title) for major
Achilles breaks the societal code by not honouring the dead
Divine intervention a key characteristic
lots of detailed descriptions of violence
Beowulf was the first piece of
literature to be written in old
English. Just like the Greek and
Roman epics, it glorified the warrior.
The Renaissance (meaning re-birth)
was a period of enlightenment after
the dark ages. The arts, science, and
philosophy all blossomed, and poets
looked for order, rationality, and an
incorporation of philosophical thought.
Petrarch and Shakespeare
popularized the Italian and
English sonnet forms, which reflected the ordered and rigid art of the period.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

Quatrain One

•shall I comPARE thee TO a SUMmer's DAY? (a)
•thou ART more LOVEly AND more TEMPerATE: (b)
•rough WINDS do SHAKE the DARLing BUDS of MAY, (a)
•and SUMmer's LEASE hath ALL too SHORT a DATE: (b)

Quatrain Two

•Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, (c)
•And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; (d)
•And every fair from fair sometime declines, (c)
•By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd; (d)

Quatrain Three

•But thy eternal summer shall not fade (e)
•Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; (f)
•Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, (e)
•When in eternal lines to time thou growest: (f)
•-courtesy of Shakespeare Online

•So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, (g)
•So long lives this and this gives life to thee. (g)
The sonnet is a 14 line lyric
poem (based on feelings and experiences), written in iambic pentameter, with a strict rhyme scheme.

Sonnets typically deal with
love, rejection, and death
As a result of the Enlightenment, there was a loss of faith in God and a
re-focusing of faith on science. Many great thinkers taught that the mind was merely mechanical and nature was law driven.
Romantic poets rebelled
against this world view
and tried to re-connect
with nature and emotions.
"Oh, for a life of sensations
rather than of thoughts"
- Keats

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty
-- that is all ye know on earth
and all ye need to know."
- Keats

"To me, the meanest flower
that blows can give thoughts
that do often lie too deep for
- Wordsworth
Not all Romantic poetry was this "romantic". These poets dealth with love, loss, death, and the meaning of life.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Earnest Henley
Free Verse
After the Industrial Revolution, French
Revolution, and American Civil war, people
started to lose faith in government, God and
their fellow man.
While the Romantic Era focused
on the emotions and experiences
of the individual, using traditional
forms and ornate language, the
Modern Era began to be concerned
with the plight of society, urban life,
and alienation. The form was not as important as the message.
Free Verse dominated this era.
Visual cues, juxtaposition, and
tension make this poetry unique.

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye
- M. Atwood
Beat poets used free verse,
but they were also heavily
influenced by jazz rhythms
and the sound of words.

As people lived through World War I, the depression, World War II, the Women`s and Civil Rights movements, and the Vietnam war, it`s no wonder poetry became more a form of activism and outcry.
Song Lyrics became a way for poets to reach the multitudes with their message. They called for social change and awareness. Their music changed the world.

Jazz, Blues, Folk, Rock, R&B, Hip Hop and other genres all have characteristic content that represents the concerns of their audiences

Generally, songs use rhyme, rhythm and repetition

the melodic and rhythmic components emphasize the message
Poetry is as relevant today as it has been to every generation that used it to express themselves: their loves, their fears, their questions, their outrage. Poetry is still alive.
Thanks for watching!

- created by D. Reed
Mayfield S.S.

Song Lyrics
Romantic poetry explored man's relationship with the natural world, and frequently used nature as a metaphor for life.

it focused on looking inward

It used rhyme and rhythm (often iambic pentameter) to order the chaos of emotional thoughts
Today, not many people read poetry for fun, but music has become more entrenched in our society than ever before. It's entertainment, it's also a powerful medium for change, and it is the poetry of the people.
I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.

- Walt Whitman
The beat movement gave way to
the spoken word and slam poetry
of today, where rhythm, occasional
rhyme and activism come together.
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