Poetic Devices

Poetic Devices #

Poetry is sensual; it appeals to our five senses, affecting our emotions, feelings and moods.  Since Poetry appeals to our ears the most, the sound effects used by poets are very important.  Words are chosen for their sound effects.  To get the most benefit from poetry it should be read aloud (recited) or even sung.

Verbal music includes:  rhyme,  rhythm,  assonance,  melody, pitch,  slow, fast,  light, heavy,  alliteration, onomatopoeia,  blending of words,  repetition patterns, tone, voice, mood,  atmosphere.  

Eurhythmics can be characterized by a pleasing rhythm; harmoniously ordered or proportioned.   A melody in the air can be eurhythmic.  Eurhythmic came from the Greek word eurythmía which meant “good proportion, gracefulness”.

Poetic Forms

Poetic Forms are generally more distinctive and disciplined

There are three broad categories of Poetry:  

Lyric forms including:

Sonnets – 14 lines simple expression of noble thought or passion

Ode -  impersonal expression on a worthy dignified subject and manner

Lyric – strongly emotional, direct – rhythmical

Elegy – on love or war  gentle melancholy rather than passion - a lament. 

b)     Narrative forms including:

Epics  -  sagas  A narrative tale retold on a large scale

c) Ballads – narrative tales told in a rhythmical way

Poetry through the Ages:

In classical times, most poetry followed the oral tradition as stories told to an audience, often in a King’s Palace.  Only later some were written down.

In the Middle Ages, poetry was sung by minstrels in the Market place.  From there it moved into the courts of the Monarchs and became the preserve of the aristocracy - John Donne.  As the middle class gained their wealth it moved into the parlours of over stuffed gentility.  Eventually poetry became the preserve of the Academia, studied in literature courses limited to esoteric coteries.

 From time to time moves were made to write it for the common man.  Chaucer chose to write in the vernacular, the bastard tongue of Middle English, instead of French, Italian or Latin.  Coleridge and Wordsworth were committed to use the language of the people.  Modernists chose to pitch their messages to the masses.  Most of Auden, Eliot, Lowell, and Australian poets is accessible for the common man.  Bob Dylan, Allan Ginsberg, Bruce Dawe, Les Murray and many others wrote simple popular poetry.  Beat and Rap poetry are also very popular.

Initially poetry dealt with the gods and our relationship to the universe.  Medieval poetry dealt with the phenomenon of Courtly love.  The Romantics illustrated our relationship to nature, while a lot of modern poetry, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Hughes demonstrate our connection to the animal world.

Our expectations continually change.  We want heightened intensity of experience, emotional release rather than artistic merit, natural rhythms, rather than forced or contrived technical excellence.  We no longer search for moral lessons or edification.  Modern poetry communicates one to one, enveloping the senses, clobbering the emotions in short thrusts rather than epics.  We prefer the whole interpretation of life in 14 lines.   

W.H. Auden once defined the chief criterion for reviewing poetry**: ***“Pleasure, he said, is not an infallible guide but it is the least fallible” *