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Evolution Of Poetry In Society

By Sandy Trentor

Poetry is an art of language that has evolved since time immemorial. The evolution of poetry has mainly been described in perspective of its generations including from oration, the time of traditions and epics, to writing poems with use of metered verses, to the period of writing by use of free verses and the most current form of hypertext poetry.
Evolution of poetry
Historically, it originated in 3000 BC as a means to communicate important information to the old people who were pre-literate in society. At that time, writing was still not common and poets used oral means to communicate cultural and historical ideas. Poets had common subjects in the early days which were practical in nature, the subjects included; worship to the gods, paying tribute to heroes, lamentations to mourn the dead, recipes and praise for magic, and lists of religious and cultural truths (Poet, 1854 p.4). Poetry at that time was practiced through combination and alternation of several words of similar sounding; it also involved creation of lyrics, rhythm, and rhyme.
The word poem itself originated from ancient Greek terms which meant ‘a thing made’. During 750 BC, poems started being composed without music accompaniment, which made the meaning of poetry to be seen as spoken rhythmic words (The History and Evolution of Poetry, 2009 para.4). The horizontal lines that were previously used in the musical poetry were not dropped but they now developed verses for poems. Though the meaning of poetry was changed to spoken rhythm and rhymes still made up poetry.
Theories of poetry held by the Greek in the 500 BC indicated that poetry was formed when gods and goddesses connected with poets in divine form hence human senses would disappear; this would bring the inspiration to the poets to write poems. During the 597-1066 AD the era of Christianity introduction (Anglo-Saxon period), the Greek theory was still believed and then other forms of poetry emerged. Philosophy and psychology was introduced into poetry and these poems were mainly composed or written to explain the conversion of pagans to Christianity (Wagler-Heinz, 2005 para.7).
In the 14th century poets started composing poems in classical languages; this led to poets composing poems in vernacular languages. This revolution was led by Geoffrey Chaecer who opposed the formal language at that time, and was widely known as the Canterbury tales. Printing presses emerged in the 15th century and it was a major boost to poetry since it changed the perspective of poetry from an affair of the rich and wealth to an issue of the whole society. During this time, God and Christianity were the major themes, and many believed that it was a god given art. This was known as the renaissance period and ran from the 14th to the 16th century; it gave poetry an aesthetic role in addition to the didactic role played before (Sisson, 1981 p.42).
The romantic period that ran from the late 18th to early 19th century evolved the literary movement. Poetry was seen as an inspiration and an imagination. This period eliminated imitation of other poets and following ones’ own inspiration. Subjects began to range and styles came in to a variety eliminating the old traditions of poetry though the styles never changed. This was followed by the Victorian period that ran in the mid 19th century, which was a continuation of the previous period (Bixler, 1953 p.127). The verse free poetry was revolutionized by Walt Whiteman, an American poet in 1848. His publications Leaves of Grass were the first widely verse free poems which eliminated the strict constructed rhythm and rhymes, leaving poetry flexible. The 20th century saw poetry invent new words and more complex newer configuration of verses.
Poetry today is still evolving in its form structure and subjects, but one thing remains intact, the inspiration behind the poets is unlimited and the style of poetry is universal. Events and beliefs remain a major inspiration in writing of poems and as the events unfold so will the poetry continue evolving. In the new millennium it has seen poetry written in the internet which is referred as hypertext poetry or hypermedia poetry.
Effects of poetry in society evolution
Effects of poetry on society are major and much especially through communication, this has made social life easier and enjoyable. Poetry has also been efficient and effective in controlling and appreciating main experiences. Values have been preserved and taught to society through poetry and at the same time many good values of society have been expressed in poetry and bad values condemned, and this has led to a better society (Bixler, 1953 p.144). Culture and traditions have been passed on to the society by poetry, leading to holding and easier relationships of the past to the future. Imagination and skills used in poetry have been used to educate the society on many issues e.g. diseases, calamities, bad leaders, and religious and human rights.
Poetry has used words, images, sounds and technology in its evolution. Poetry has been expressed by many as difficult to understand and explain but the ideas in poetry are expressed in an artistic way that with no doubt thrills the readers. Modern society has continued with the evolution of poetry and the forms have been used creatively. Poetry can be explained as a revolutionary art of language in society that captivates the reader to get crucial messages.

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MLA Style Citation:
Trentor, Sandy "Evolution Of Poetry In Society." Evolution Of Poetry In Society. 26 Jun. 2010. 1 Mar 2016 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Trentor, S (2010, June 26). Evolution Of Poetry In Society. Retrieved March 1, 2016, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Trentor, Sandy "Evolution Of Poetry In Society"

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