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Lay

Definition

A lay is a type of poem that was most commonly written in octosyllabic verse. An octosyllabic verse is, as the name suggests, a verse where each line is written in eight syllables. A lay poem, however, does not entirely follow the patterns of octosyllabic verse. A lay poem can consist of anywhere between six or sixteen lines. In each of those lines, there can be from four to eight syllables depending on the writer's preference.

Lay poetry can be tracked down as being written as early as the twelfth century. Commonly, it was called a lyric poem in medieval times for the way that it flowed it resembled the lyrics of songs. Lay poetry has French origins, although some work was pondered to have Celtic themes. Lay poetry was mostly written for romance. The term "lay" was originally spelled "lei" due to its medieval French origins. Lay poetry is beautiful and expressive. 

A long narrative poem, especially one that was sung by medieval minstrels.


[n] a narrative poem of popular origin
[n] a narrative song with a recurrent refrain
[adj] not of or from a profession; "a lay opinion as to the cause of the disease"
[adj] concerning those not members of the clergy; "set his collar in laic rather than clerical position"; "the lay ministry"; "the choir sings both sacred and secular music"
[v] put into a certain place or abstract location; "Put your things here"; "Set the tray down"; "Set the dogs on the scent of the missing children"; "Place emphasis on a certain point"
[v] put in a horizontal position; "lay the books on the table"; "lay the patient carefully onto the bed"
[v] lay eggs; of female animals; "This hen doesn't lay"
[v] prepare or position for action or operation; "lay a fire"; "lay the foundation for a new health care plan"
[v] impose as a duty, burden, or punishment; "lay a responsibility on someone"

Example

 - Excerpt

The Lay of the Last Minstrel
by Sir Walter Scott

The way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His wither'd cheek, and tresses gray,
Seem'd to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.

Related Information

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