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11 Major Poetry Forms

by Anuradha sowmyanarayanan

 poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity”” is the definition of poetry by William words worth. There are about eleven major forms of poetry.

THE EPIC: The Epic is the greatest and most sublime form of poetry. The Epic is a long poem, divided into several books, celebrating the life, heroic deeds and achievements of a national hero, whether historical or legendary. Ex: Homer’s Iliad.

 THE MOCK EPIC: The mock Epic is parody of the real Epic in a light non serious mood. It is written on a very trivial or funny incident on which a garb of classical conventions of a real epic is overlaid. Ex: Alexander pope’s The rape of the lock.

THE SONNET: The term SONNET is derived from the Italian SONNETO which means “”a little sound.”” It is a musical poem in fourteen lines written in Iambic pentameter and linked by an intricate rhyme scheme. Ex: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnets from the Portuguese.

THE ODE: Ode is a long lyrical poem, serious in subject, elevated in style and elaborate in its stanzaic structure. It is in the form of an address to the object or the person about whom it is written. Ex: Shelley’s ode to the west wind.

THE LYRIC: A lyric is a short musical composition meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre by a single singer. Now the term is used for any short non- narrative poem expressing a single thought or feeling of the poet.

THE IDYLL: The origin of IDYLLS may be traced back to Greek poet Theocritus. Idylls are small lyrical poems generally describing the scenes and pleasures of rural countryside. They depict country life as realistically and pictorially as possible.

THE PASTORAL:  The Idyll and the pastoral have the same genetic root. Pastorals are conventional poems describing the peace, simplicity, innocence and happy life of the shepherds in an idealised natural setting.

THE ELEGY:  Elegy is essentially a poem of mourning or lamentation on the death of some particular person. In the wider sense it may also be a poem of mourning on the morality and vanity of human life in general. Ex: Milton’s Lycidas.

THE PASTORAL ELEGY: It is an elegy cast into conventional pastoral form. It is presumed that the poet is a shepherd mourning the death of a fellow shepherd. The whole imagery of goats, sheep, pastures and pastoral gods and goddesses is drawn in it. Ex: Matthew Arnold’s Thyrsis.

THE BALLAD: The word “Ballad” literally means ä dance-song.”” Troupes of wandering singers used to sing them from village to village. They generally sang of the brave deeds and heroic exploits of historical or legendary heroes and knights. Ex: Keats’s La Bella Dame Sans Merci.

THE SATIRE:  Dryden defines the satire as “”a literary composition whose principal aim is to ridicule folly or vice. The true end of satire is the amendment of vices by correction.’’ A healthy satire good –humouredly exposes one’s follies or vices. Ex: William Langland’s Piers the plowman.