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Types of Lyric Poetry

By Gary R. Hess. Category: Poetry

The lyric is seen as one of the three main poetry forms today. However, historically it wasn't always this way. Nonetheless, the lyric has played an important role in the development of this great literature genre and has been used for millenniums by authors who simply wanted their poem to have more emotion and thought than the other genres provide.

Lyric poetry is made up of two forms with many sub-genres. Nonetheless, a common feature in all the subdivisions is the use of great emotion and thought. Traditionally, the refrain was commonly used and included one or several lines that end or follow a strophe and is then repeated throughout the poem, either exact or with a slight variation. However, today the use of refrains is quite rare outside of music.

In some cases, the form and theme of a lyric poem are inter wed. However, it is just as common for the form and theme to be opposites, which brings the readers interest on whether the poet can successfully bridge a union between the two.

Lyric poetry is made of two main types: elegy and ode.

A poem of mourning or reflection on the death of an individual.
A serious or thoughtful poem, usually with a formal structure. This type of poem is generally seen as a way to pay homage to a thing or person. This type of lyric is the most popular and includes the sub-genre of sonnets.

Both elegies and odes can be sub-divided into several different kinds of poetry.

Most lyrics are strictly structured with regular meter and are set to music, although it isn't always the case.

The most popular form of lyric poetry is the 14-line sonnet (generally a sub-division of an ode), either in Petrarchan or Shakespearean form, in Western civilization. The Petrarchan form is a sonnet consisting of an octave rhyming abbaabba followed by a sestet of cddcee or cdecde. On the other hand, Shakespearean consists of three quatrains of abab cdcd efef followed by a couplet, gg. Shakespearean sonnets generally use iambic pentameter.

Ancient Hebrew poetry, on the other hand, relied on repetition and chiasmus, while classic Greek and Roman were written in set meters and strophes. Pindarus (522 BC - 443 BC) accustomed his odes to rhyme and meter much like modern day poetry.

In short, the lyric poem has been around for centuries and has played a large role in literature history. And even though there are two different forms, they are both related by the use of thought and emotion.