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Lyric Poetry

Lyric Poetry

Lyric poetry is a certain type of poetry or verse writing. It is a compositional style characterized by the author or poet expressing personal feelings, primarily in the first person. It is also related to music (as in the "music lyrics" to a song). Lyric poetry has a long history and is considered a classical style of writing.

This form of poetry developed from an earlier type of ancient literature, the Greek "lyric," which was a poem that was accompanied by music played on the lyre. Aristotle separated poetry into three distinct categories, namely epic, dramatic, and lyrical.

Part of this categorization was based on the content matter (personal emotions of the author, as mentioned above), but part of it was also based on the metrical features of the poem. Lyric poetry features the following elements:

  1. A regular meter, hinging on either stressed syllables or the number of syllables.
  2. These meters may be mixed and matched within a lyric poem, as when the poem has a refrain or chorus.
  3. These regular measures and distinct stanzas are again features that lyric poetry shares with music.

Lyric poetry evolved over time, and formed the basis for both European medieval court poetry and Renaissance love lyrics. In the 19th century it became the dominant form of poetry, and was used widely by famous Romantic poets such as the following:

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • John Keats

In modern times, however, lyric poetry has been overlooked by poets, with irregular or absent meters, abstract subjects, and experimental forms becoming in vogue.

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