THE MECHANICS OF POETRY
When writing poetry, there are a
few rules to keep in mind. These rules give poetry its style and
characteristics. This means that you can tell one poet from another
by reading their poems, and because of the rules, you can tell
it is poetry and not something else, like a lecture or directions. The main rules to poetry are:
In ancient Greece they referred
to rhythm as the long and short syllables of words. These long
and short syllables correspond to quarter notes and half notes
in our written music today. To show you an example, I will take
the word syllable and break it up; syl-la-ble. So, the
word syllable has three syllables in it. (If this is confusing,
ask your teacher to explain syllables to you.) In modern poetry,
we rely on accents. This means that certain words are supposed
to sound louder than other words in the poem.
A FOOT means the time periods into
which the poetic line is divided. A foot is made up of several syllables,
some long and some short.
Meter refers to how the feet are put together to form lines of poetry. The combinations of long and short syllables give poetry a lyrical feel.
Another term for meter is PROSODY - the principles of verse structure.
Lyrics are what the poets wrote, the actual words they used, and the way they combined them to form meanings in the framework of rhythm and meter. It can also refer to how poetry was presented to an audience, such as:
STROPHIC LYRIC- This poetry is sung like a song with musical accompaniment and dancing.
CHORAL LYRIC- Poetry sung by a chorus (many people singing together). It was used in Greek tragedies to explain to the audience what was going on in the play.
EPIC POETRY- Poetry used to sing the great deeds of men. The words were about heroic deeds, epic battles, and the plight of warriors. The Greeks believed that their gods were always affecting their lives, so they sang a lot about them also. Homer was an epic style poet and is known for writing the Iliad.
ELIAGITIC POETRY- Poetry written
for funeral marches.
The problem with reading Ancient
Greek poetry today lies in the way it is translated. The Greek
language differs greatly in sound and meaning from our language
today. Because many of us cannot read or speak Ancient Greek ,
we have to rely on someone who can to put it in a language we
can read and write. This makes it very difficult to get words
to rhyme and to fit together in different languages. Keep this
in mind when reading translations of Greek poetry.
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