Lyric Poetry: Expressing Emotion Through Verse (2023)

A lyric poem is short, highly musical verse that conveys powerful feelings. The poet may use rhyme, meter, or other literary devices to create a song-like quality.

Unlike narrative poetry, which chronicles events, lyric poetry doesn't have to tell a story. A lyric poem is a private expression of emotion by a single speaker. For example, American poet Emily Dickinson described inner feelings when she wrote her lyric poem that begins, "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, / And Mourners to and fro."

Key Takeways: Lyric Poetry

  • A lyric poem is a private expression of emotion by an individual speaker.
  • Lyric poetry is highly musical and can feature poetic devices like rhyme and meter.
  • Some scholars categorize lyric poetry in three subtypes: Lyric of Vision, Lyric of Thought, and Lyric of Emotion. However, this classification is not widely agreed upon.
(Video) Lyrical Poetry

Origins of Lyric Poetry

Song lyrics often begin as lyric poems. In ancient Greece, lyric poetry was, in fact, combined with music played on a U-shaped stringed instrument called a lyre. Through words and music, great lyric poets like Sappho (ca. 610–570 B.C.) poured out feelings of love and yearning.

Similar approaches to poetry were developed in other parts of the world. Between the fourth century B.C. and the first century A.D., Hebrew poets composed intimate and lyrical psalms, which were sung in ancient Jewish worship services and compiled in the Hebrew Bible. During the eighth century, Japanese poets expressed their ideas and emotions through haiku and other forms. Writing about his private life, Taoist writer Li Po (710–762) became one of China's most celebrated poets.

The rise of lyric poetry in the Western world represented a shift from epic narratives about heroes and gods. The personal tone of lyric poetry gave it broad appeal. Poets in Europe drew inspiration from ancient Greece but also borrowed ideas from the Middle East, Egypt, and Asia.

Types of Lyric Poetry

Of the three main categories of poetry—narrative, dramatic, and lyric—lyric is the most common, and also the most difficult to classify. Narrative poems tell stories. Dramatic poetry is a play written in verse. Lyric poetry, however, encompasses a wide range of forms and approaches.

(Video) types of lyric poetry

Nearly any experience or phenomenon can be explored in the emotional, personal lyric mode, from war and patriotism to love and art.

Lyric poetry also has no prescribed form. Sonnets, villanelles, rondeaus, and pantoums are all considered lyric poems. So are elegies, odes, and most occasional (or ceremonial) poems. When composed in free verse, lyric poetry achieves musicality through literary devices such as alliteration, assonance, and anaphora.

Each of the following examples illustrates an approach to lyric poetry.

William Wordsworth, "The World Is Too Much With Us"

The English Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770–1850) famously said that poetry is "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." In "The World Is Too Much with Us," his passion is evident in blunt exclamatory statements such as "a sordid boon!" Wordsworth condemns materialism and alienation from nature, as this section of the poem illustrates.

(Video) Introduction to Lyric Poetry

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"

Although "The World Is Too Much with Us" feels spontaneous, it was clearly composed with care ("recollected in tranquility"). A Petrarchansonnet, the complete poem has 14 lines with a prescribed rhyme scheme, metrical pattern, and arrangement of ideas. In this musical form, Wordsworth expressed personal outrage over the effects of the Industrial Revolution.

Christina Rossetti, "A Dirge"

British poet Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) composed "A Dirge" in rhyming couplets. The consistent meter and rhyme create the effect of a burial march. The lines grow progressively shorter, reflecting the speaker's sense of loss, as this selection from the poem illustrates.

"Why were you born when the snow was falling?
You should have come to the cuckoo’s calling,
Or when grapes are green in the cluster,
Or, at least, when lithe swallows muster
For their far off flying
From summer dying."

Using deceptively simple language, Rossetti laments an untimely death. The poem is an elegy, but Rossetti does not tell us who died. Instead, she speaks figuratively, comparing the span of a human life to the changing seasons.

Elizabeth Alexander, "Praise Song for the Day"

American poet Elizabeth Alexander (1962– ) wrote "Praise Song for the Day" to read at the 2009 inauguration of America's first Black president, Barack Obama. The poem does not rhyme, but it creates a song-like effect through rhythmic repetition of phrases. By echoing a traditional African form, Alexander paid tribute to African culture in the United States and called for people of all races to live together in peace.

(Video) POETRY CORNER #poetry #spokenword #poetrycorner

"Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables."

"Praise Song for the Day" is rooted in two traditions. It is both an occasional poem, written and performed for a special occasion, and a praise song, an African form that uses descriptive word-pictures to capture the essence of something being praised.

Occasional poetry has played an important role in Western literature since the days of ancient Greece and Rome. Short or long, serious or lighthearted, occasional poems commemorate coronations, weddings, funerals, dedications, anniversaries, and other important events. Similar to odes,occasional poems are often passionate expressions of praise.

Classifying Lyric Poems

Poets are always devising new ways to express feelings and ideas, transforming our understanding of the lyric mode. Is a found poem lyric? What about a concrete poem made from artful arrangements of words on the page? To answer these questions, some scholars utilize three classifications for lyric poetry: Lyric of Vision, Lyric of Thought, and Lyric of Emotion.

Visual poetry like May Swenson's pattern poem, "Women," belongs to the Lyric of Vision subtype. Swenson arranged lines and spaces in a zigzag pattern to suggest the image of women rocking and swaying to satisfy the whims of men. Other Lyric of Vision poets have incorporated colors, unusual typography, and 3D shapes.

(Video) POETRY CORNER #poetry #spokenword #poetrycorner

Didactic poems designed to teach and intellectual poems such as satire may not seem especially musical or intimate, but these works can be placed in the Lyric of Thought category. For examples of this subtype, consider the scathing epistles by 18th-century British poet Alexander Pope.

The third subtype, Lyric of Emotion, refers to works we usually associate with lyric poetry as a whole: mystical, sensual, and emotional. However, scholars have long debated these classifications. The term "lyric poem" is often used broadly to describe any poem that is not a narrative or a stage play.



What are the 3 main types of poetry? ›

There are three main kinds of poetry: narrative, dramatic and lyrical. It is not always possible to make distinction between them. For example, an epic poem can contain lyrical passages, or lyrical poem can contain narrative parts.

Is ode a lyric poem? ›

A formal, often ceremonious lyric poem that addresses and often celebrates a person, place, thing, or idea.

Is poetry still used to express emotions Why? ›

Poetry writing allows one to express themselves through the written word. This is a great way to release pent up emotion, exercise creativity, and share thoughts and ideas with other people. Even if you've never written creatively before, you can enjoy the feeling of writing about your life.

What is poetry your answer? ›

poetry, literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm.

What are the 4 poetry elements? ›

These structures are also known as the elements of poetry. The basic elements of poetry include meter, rhyme, scheme, verse, and stanza. In order to dive deeper into poetry, students will first need to understand these structural elements.

What is the 7 elements of poetry? ›

These elements may include, voice, diction, imagery, figures of speech, symbolism and allegory, syntax, sound, rhythm and meter, and structure.

How do you write a lyric ode? ›

3 Tips for How to Write an Ode
  1. Use quatrain stanzas. Classic odes (Pindaric and Horatian) use four-line stanzas known as quatrains. ...
  2. Choose a grand or intensely personal subject. ...
  3. Be precise about the length of your lines.
Jun 7, 2021

What does ode mean? ›

In mathematics, an ordinary differential equation (ODE) is a differential equation whose unknown(s) consists of one (or more) function(s) of one variable and involves the derivatives of those functions.

What are the 5 examples of ode? ›

  • “Olympian Ode 1” by Pindar. ...
  • “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” by William Wordsworth. ...
  • “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. ...
  • “Ode to the Confederate Dead” by Allen Tate. ...
  • “The Progress of Poesy” by Thomas Gray. ...
  • “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats.

How do poets express their emotions? ›

Harsh or pleasant-sounding words generate harsh or pleasant emotions. Poets put their words together to form images, and the combined effect of images, sounds, and word choice help lead the reader to the desired emotion of the poem.

How do you express emotions in poetry? ›

Poets also use poetic techniques to stir a reader's emotions. These tools, which are sometimes called poetic devices, include simile and metaphor as well as sound effects such as rhythm and rhyme.

How can you use poetry to express your emotions? ›

Images and metaphors embedded within a poem in a rhythmic pattern create a similar effect to music: the poetic format enables the expression of emotion that might otherwise be hard to verbally express or may have felt too threatening to do so in a direct way.

What are 3 things about poetry? ›

Poetry, also known as verse, is a type of literature (written work) that uses sounds and images to express feelings and ideas. Someone who writes poetry is called a poet. Poems can paint a picture in our minds. They can also make us feel a certain way.

What are the 6 characteristics of poetry? ›

These are stylistic choices that can vary from piece to piece, but must nonetheless be made by every poet.
  • Figures of Speech. ...
  • Descriptive Imagery. ...
  • Punctuation and Format. ...
  • Sound and Tone. ...
  • Choice of Meter.

What are 4 lines in a poem called? ›

In poetry, a quatrain is a verse with four lines. Quatrains are popular in poetry because they are compatible with different rhyme schemes and rhythmic patterns.

What are 7 lines in a poem called? ›

Septet. A stanza with seven lines. This is sometimes called a “rhyme royal.”

What is the structure of poetry? ›

The structure of a poem involves many elements, such as the number of lines, the number of syllables in each line, the rhyming of certain words and phrases with others, and much more.

What are the rules of poetry? ›

Poems are typically written in verses, rather than paragraphs. They can include complete sentences or incomplete sentences and often have a rhythm. Keep in mind, poems do not have to rhyme.

What is the lyric structure of each verse? ›

Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – Chorus

Many popular songs use a Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus structure. The bridge helps add surprise or variance to the repetitiveness of the rest of the song.

How do you structure a verse in a song? ›

A typical song structure includes a verse, chorus, and bridge in the following arrangement: intro, verse — chorus — verse — chorus —bridge — chorus — outro. This is known as an ABABCB structure, where A is the verse, B is the chorus and C is the bridge.

What is the definition of free verse in poetry? ›

Nonmetrical, nonrhyming lines that closely follow the natural rhythms of speech. A regular pattern of sound or rhythm may emerge in free-verse lines, but the poet does not adhere to a metrical plan in their composition.

Does an ode have to rhyme? ›

Today's odes are usually rhyming poems with an irregular meter, although rhyme is not required for a poem to be classified as an ode. They are broken into stanzas (the "paragraphs" of poetry) with 10 lines each, typically consisting of three to five stanzas in total.

What is ode give two examples? ›

An ode is a kind of poem, usually praising something. A famous example is John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn." Apparently, Keats was really into urns.

What is ode synonym? ›

Synonyms of ode
  • poem.
  • sonnet.
  • lyric.
  • rhyme.
  • lament.
  • epic.
  • psalm.
  • ballad.

What is an example of a simple ode? ›

An ordinary differential equation is an equation which is defined for one or more functions of one independent variable and its derivatives. It is abbreviated as ODE. y'=x+1 is an example of ODE.

What is ode examples in poetry? ›

The William Wordsworth poem “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” is a very good example of an English language Pindaric ode. It begins: There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, The earth, and every common sight. To me did seem.

What rhyme scheme is ode? ›

The most common rhyme scheme for English odes was ABABCDECDE, but today, odes come in many schemes and sizes. So if you're trying out an ode for the first time, or want to take the classic form in a new direction, check out these six tips for writing the modern ode.

What are three ways to express emotions? ›

Expressing Your Emotions in a Healthy Way: 16 Tips
  • Use positive self-talk. ...
  • Be a good listener. ...
  • Try spirituality. ...
  • Teach emotion words to young children. ...
  • Practice empathy. ...
  • Model emotional expression. ...
  • Forgive. ...
  • Practice acceptance.
Dec 24, 2020

Who says poetry is an expression of emotion? ›

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” This quote by William Wordsworth defines poetry as the expression of emotions that a regular conversation would not be able to project.

What is the most common way to express emotions? ›

Cultural backgrounds, family values, and many other factors can influence how we express emotions. Typically, we learn to express our emotions in two primary ways: either directly expressing them to someone else (e.g., in a personal confrontation), or hiding the feelings and keeping them to ourselves.

What are 4 ways to express feelings? ›

Accept your feelings rather than deny them. Avoid being judgmental of yourself and others. Practice how you'd express yourself by journaling your feelings. Be a good listener when people share things with you.

What are 5 steps for expressing emotions effectively? ›

How to Communicate Your Feelings
  • #1 Understand your feelings. Before you can express your feelings, you have to know what they are. ...
  • #2 Be discerning about who you share with. ...
  • #3 Respond dont react. ...
  • #4 Find the right time. ...
  • #5 Be direct. ...
  • #6 Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. ...
  • #7 Be a good listener.
Jan 20, 2017

What are the 8 elements of a poem? ›

Lines- Poetry is divided into lines or groups of words. Stanzas – Lines that are organized units of meaning. Couplet – Two-lined stanza Tercet – Three-lined stanza Quatrain – Four-lined stanza Stanza break – A blank line, signals that one stanza has ended and a new stanza is beginning.

What are the 6 forms of poetry? ›

Six Common Types of Poetry
  • Sonnet. Poetry analysts use letters of the alphabet to show which lines rhyme. ...
  • Sestina. The sestina was invented by French troubadours, a type of entertainer. ...
  • Villanelle. The villanelle is another French poem. ...
  • Haiku. The haiku is a Japanese form of poetry designed to be very compact. ...
  • Ode. ...
  • Limericks.

What are the 8 basic elements of poetry? ›

8 Elements of Poetry
  • Form. Type of poem (see LL) ...
  • Diction (choice of words) ...
  • Organization (structure of words, punctuation, paragraphs, stanzas, ideas) ...
  • Selection of Detail. ...
  • Imagery (appeal to the senses) ...
  • Language Devices (ways the author uses language in structuring other elements) ...
  • Tone (author's attitude) ...
  • Speaker/POV.
Mar 8, 2012

What is a 5 verse poem called? ›

A quintain (also known as a quintet) is any poetic form or stanza that contains five lines. Quintain poems can contain any line length or meter.

What is 5 line poetry called? ›

A quintain or pentastich is any poetic form containing five lines. Examples include the tanka, the cinquain, the quintilla, Shakespeare's Sonnet 99, and the limerick.

What are 3 different words you would use to describe poetry? ›

synonyms for poetry
  • verse.
  • doggerel.
  • paean.
  • poems.
  • poesy.
  • rhyme.
  • rime.
  • rune.

What is the most important thing in poetry? ›

Imagery. The only thing that will make your poetry powerful and enticing is great imagery. This goes along with the line you always hear “show don't tell.” Only with poetry, it's ALL show and NO tell.

What is the power of poetry as an expression? ›

Poetry is a powerful form of expression that is often underestimated as a tool for language development. The power lies not only in the meaning that is captured within but also in the way words are chosen and carefully arranged to convey the message.

What are the 3 characteristics of poetry? ›

Form - the arrangement of words, lines, verses, rhymes, and other features. Cadence - A rhythmic change in the inflection of sounds from words being spoken. Sometimes referred to the flow of words. Meter - A rhythm that continuously repeats a single basic pattern.

What are the 3 things essential to poetry? ›

No matter if you're writing sonnets or lyrics to your next mixtape, these five things are essential to any poem.
  • Imagery. The only thing that will make your poetry powerful and enticing is great imagery. ...
  • Rhythm. Yes, rhythm can include rhyme. ...
  • Sound. ...
  • Density. ...
  • Line.
Feb 15, 2015

What are the first 4 lines of a poem called? ›

Lines of poems are often organized into stanzas, or verses, which are denominated by the number of lines included. Thus a collection of two lines is a couplet (or distich), three lines a triplet (or tercet), four lines a quatrain, and so on.

What are the 2 elements of poetry? ›

The elements of poetry are the devices used that characterise a piece of writing as a poem. Different to poetic techniques, such as imagery, or symbolism, the elements of poetry are the aspects that are integral to categorise a piece of writing as poetry, such as poetic metre and rhyme scheme.

How do poems make people feel? ›

poetry gets to the heart of the point so quickly, and you instantly can gleam what the poet is saying. It is emotionally touching because of the sharp acuteness in which each, single, word means so much. I love poetry, mostly because there is usually another meaning than the one what you initially think.

What is a verse in a poem? ›

What is a Verse? A Verse is a collection of metrical lines of poetry. It is used to define the difference of poetry and prose. It contains rhythm and pattern and more often than not, rhyme.

What is the main point of poetry? ›

Poetry lets us positively share our feelings.

Many of us feel angry, frustrated, sad, or fearful from time to time. However, because these feelings are unpleasant, we often keep them locked up inside of us. Writing and reading poetry help us let these feelings out and also better understand them.

What are the main and most important features of poetry? ›

What is the importance of the features of poetry? The different features of a poem including alliteration, imagery and personification are included to give depth and meaning to the poem. It is used to convey meaning and themes in the way in which the poet intended through the layering of these effects.


1. Group 2 - Modes of Poetry (lyric, Narrative, Dramatic)
(W.E.L.D - 19)
2. Lyric Poetry
3. Examples of Lyric Poems
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5. Lyric Poem #literaryterms #shorts
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6. lyric poetry
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