The three types of poetry

The three types of poetry

Poetry throughout history has always been divided in some form. Today, there are hundreds of forms developed around the world, with each culture and region specializing in their own version of the craft. However, we are still able to place poetry into non-specific genres because of their common themes. Today, poetry enthusiasts divide the craft into three main themes: lyric, narrative, and drama.

Little is known about literature in the ancient past. However, we know that poetry has been around for thousands of years. We also have records showing the common themes of such writings. In Ancient Greece, for example, we know that poetry was divided into three main types of poetry by the great philosopher Aristotle; they were comedy, tragedy and epic. He argues that comedy is merely an imitation of what is baser and possibly funny. He argues that the other two, tragedy and epic, are similar in that both depict suffering and evoke effects and emotions in their readers. The only difference between the two is that an epic is a one-verse poem while a tragedy is in narrative form.

Today, scholars of poetry and literature believe that poetry really contains three main genres. However, the three are known as lyric, narrative, and drama, not comedy, tragedy, and epic. Each of these genres can then be saturated with sub-genres and then sub-sub-genres depending on rhyme scheme, rhythm, meter, style and even emotion.

Lyrical poetry is poems that focus on thought and emotion. Poems can be songs – and songs can be any other genre. The main subdivisions include the elegy, the ode, and the sonnet. Lyrical poetry does not tell a story. Major lyric poems include Sappho’s “Go Fair Rose” and Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Narrative poetry is a poem that tells a story. Most often, the stories involve heroic events or are of cultural or national (or to some extent even local) significance. Subdivisions of narrative poetry include ballads and epics. The Divine Comedy by Dante, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, and The Odyssey by Homer are just some of the major narratives.

Dramatic poetry is written in verse that is meant to be spoken. It usually tells a story, but it can also simply depict a situation. Most dramatic poetry is written in blank verse. Authors Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare wrote important dramatic works.

Although there are three main types of poetry, each can be divided into hundreds, possibly even thousands of genres. If you haven’t found one you like, chances are you will, just keep looking!

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