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Poetry is one of the most interesting ways in which we use language. In this lesson, learn about what poetry actually is and what features can make a poem.

What Is Poetry?

”Roses are red and violets are blue….””I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.””But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

”You probably have heard at least one of these or something like it. These are all considered parts of poems. The first comes from a nursery rhyme, the second is from William Henley, and the third comes from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But what is poetry? And why should we care about it?

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Why Does Poetry Matter?

Poetry has been a part of human history since before we could even write things down. Oral traditions of poetry that had rhyme, for instance, helped early civilizations memorize epic poems and histories.

Poetry is a way to elevate language by using words and sounds to express powerful ideas and images. Have you ever heard the expression ”get more bang for your buck”? Or ”do a lot with a little”? That’s what poetry does for language. It does a lot with a little.A poem is a snapshot of a feeling, the same way you might use Snapchat to capture a picture or video of a moment that you really like. Often people write poetry to express deep emotions like love or admiration or to purge feelings of loneliness or depression.

What Makes a Poem?

Poetry is a type of language that uses form.

Form in poetry can be structure, meter, rhyme, topic, or an established pattern. You’ve probably heard the words rhyme, pattern, and topic before, but we’ll cover them briefly again and explore some of the other terms you might not be familiar with.Structure is how a poem looks on a page. A poem could be long or short.

It can also have long lines or short lines. It all depends on what mood the poet wants his or her readers to experience. Because of poetry’s structure, it can help you feel happy, sad, excited, thoughtful, or even spiritual.

Poetry uses sounds to make language rich, much the way a movie like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games uses action to make the movie more interesting. There are two types of sounds in poetry: meter and rhyme. You can think of meter in poetry as the beat of the poem. Just like the drums in your favorite song, words have syllables that create a beat in language. How many syllables an author uses determines what kind of meter the poem will have. Poetry also uses rhyme, or two words that sound exactly alike or very similar, to create form.

Poetry usually has a specific topic or subject the poem is going to be about. Many poets pick to write about nature or their favorite pet, but the beauty of poetry is that you can write about anything.Establishing a pattern can also be an effective way to show that you are writing poetry. Patterns in poetry could be repeating words, length of sentences, or breaking poems into separate paragraphs.Poetry is still an important part of our culture. Song writers use poems to help shape their meaning, speakers use poems to engage their audience, and poetry slams are performed in all fifty states in America.

We all experience poetry, whether we know it is poetry or not. Whatever you way decide to experience poetry, one thing is true: poetry makes life more interesting!

Lesson Summary

Poetry is a language art form that we have used throughout history, and it is still an important part of our culture. Poems use sounds and images to express emotions and experiences. A poem’s form consists of structure, rhyme, meter, topic, or an established pattern.

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