Poem History as an art form may have predated literacy.
Some of the earliest poems are believed to have been orally recited or sung.
Following the development of writing, the Poem has since developed into increasingly structured forms, though much poetry since the late 19th century has moved away from traditional forms towards the more vaguely defined free verse and prose poem formats.
Early history of the Poem:
The Poem was employed as a means of recording oral history, story (epic poetry), genealogy, and law. Poetry is often closely many of the poems surviving from the ancient world are a form of recorded cultural information about the people of the past, and their poems are prayers or stories about religious subject matter, histories about their politics and wars, and the important organizing myths of their societies. the Poem as an art form may predate literacy Thus many ancient works, from the Vedas (1700 - 1200 BC) to the Odyssey (800 - 675 BC), appear to have been composed in poetic form to aid memorization and oral transmission, in prehistoric and ancient societies. the Poem appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures, with poetic fragments found on early monoliths, rune stones and stelae. The oldest surviving poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh, from the 3rd millennium BC in Sumer (in Iraq/Mesopotamia), which was written in cuneiform script on clay tablets and, later, papyrus. The Epic of Gilgamesh is based on the historical king Gilgamesh. The oldest love poem, found on a clay tablet now known as Istanbul #2461, was also a Sumerian poem. It was recited by a bride of the Sumerian king Shu-Sin, who ruled from 2037-2029 BC. The oldest epic poetry besides the Epic of Gilgamesh are the Greek epics Iliad and Odyssey and the Indian Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The longest epic poems ever written were the Mahabharata and the Tibetan Epic of King Gesar. Ancient thinkers sought to determine what makes poetry distinctive as a form and what distinguishes good poetry from bad, resulting in the development of "poetics", or the study of the aesthetics of poetry. Some ancient societies, such as the Chinese through the Shi Jing, one of the Five Classics of Confucianism, developed canons of poetic works that had ritual as well as aesthetic importance. More recently, thinkers struggled to find a definition that could encompass formal differences as great as those between Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and Matsuo Basho's Oku no Hosomichi, as well as differences in context that span from the religious poetry of the Tanakh to love poetry to rap. Context can be critical to poetics and to the development of poetic genres and forms. For example, poetry employed to record historical events in epics, such as Gilgamesh or Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, will necessarily be lengthy and narrative, while poetry used for liturgical purposes in hymns, psalms, suras and hadiths is likely to have an inspirational tone, whereas elegies and tragedy are intended to invoke deep internal emotional responses. Other contexts include music such as Gregorian chants, formal or diplomatic speech, political rhetoric and invective, light-hearted nursery and nonsense rhymes, and even medical texts. The Polish historian of aesthetics, Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz, in a paper on "The Concept of Poetry," traces the evolution of what is in fact two concepts of poetry. Tatarkiewicz points out that the term is applied to two distinct things that, as the poet Paul Valéry observes, "at a certain point find union. Poetry is an art based on language. But poetry also has a more general meaning that is difficult to define because it is less determinate: poetry expresses a certain state of mind."
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Classical and early modern Western traditions of the Poem:
Classical thinkers employed classification as a way to define and assess the quality of poetry. Notably, Aristotle's Poetics describes the three genres of poetry: the epic, comic, and tragic, and develops rules to distinguish the highest-quality poetry of each genre, based on the underlying purposes of that genre. Later aestheticians identified three major genres: epic poetry, lyric poetry and dramatic poetry, treating comedy and tragedy as subgenres of dramatic poetry. Aristotle's work was influential throughout the Middle East during the Islamic Golden Age, as well as in Europe during the Renaissance. Later poets and aestheticians often distinguished poetry from, and defined it in opposition to, prose, which was generally understood as writing with a proclivity to logical explication and a linear narrative structure. This does not imply that poetry is illogical or lacks narration, but rather that the Poem is an attempt to render the beautiful or sublime without the burden of engaging the logical or narrative thought process. English Romantic poet John Keats termed this escape from logic, "Negative Capability." This "romantic" approach views form as a key element of successful poetry because form is abstract and distinct from the underlying notional logic. This approach remained influential into the twentieth century. During this period, there was also substantially more interaction among the various poetic traditions, in part due to the spread of European colonialism and the attendant rise in global trade. In addition to a boom in translation, during the Romantic period numerous ancient works were rediscovered.
Modern developments of the Poem:
The use of verse to transmit cultural information continues today. Many Americans know that "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue". An alphabet song teaches the names and order of the letters of the alphabet; another jingle states the lengths and names of the months in the Gregorian calendar. Some writers believe poetry has its origins in song. Most of the characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of utterance rhythm, rhyme, compression, intensity of feeling, the use of refrains—appear to have come about from efforts to fit words to musical forms. In the European tradition the earliest surviving poems, the Homeric and Hesiodic epics, identify themselves as poems to be recited or chanted to a musical accompaniment rather than as pure song. Another interpretation is that rhythm, refrains, and kennings are essentially paratactic devices that enable the reciter to reconstruct the poem from memory. In preliterate societies, these forms of poetry were composed for, and sometimes during, performance. There was a certain degree of fluidity to the exact wording of poems. The introduction of writing fixed the content of a poem to the version that happened to be written down and survive. Written composition meant poets began to compose for an absent reader. The invention of printing accelerated these trends. Poets were now writing more for the eye than for the ear.
Lyric poetry in Poem History:
The development of literacy gave rise to more personal, shorter poems intended to be sung. These are called lyrics, which derives from the Greek lura or lyre, the instrument that was used to accompany the performance of Greek lyrics from about the seventh century BC onward. The Greek's practice of singing hymns in large choruses gave rise in the sixth century BC to dramatic verse, and to the practice of writing poetic plays for performance in their theatres. In more recent times, the introduction of electronic media and the rise of the poetry reading have led to a resurgence of performance poetry. The late 20th-century rise of the singer-songwriter, Rap culture, and the increase in popularity of poetry slams have led to a split between the academic and popular views.
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