April 17, 2024

The Evolution of Poetry

Almost all of the earliest known poetry was a form of epic poetry which are lengthy, narrative pieces of poetry which usually details adventures. The word “epic” comes from the ancient Greek term “epos,” which means “story, word, poem.” One of the earliest poetic pieces dates back to 2000 B.C., it’s known as the “Epic of Gilgamesh.” This piece shows the adventures of the semi-divine King Gilgamesh as he leaves his home city of Uruk to battle mythical beasts and obtain the secret to eternal life.

The ancient Greeks were known for their epic poetry. Two of the most famous Greek poets were Homer and Hesiod. Homer wrote the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” while Hesiod wrote “Works and Days.” The ancient Greeks often used poetry in music and theater.

Drawing of Homer

Moving up to the Renaissance (1485-1660), poets developed new structures and forms of meter. Meter is the basic rhythmic structure of a line within a work of poetry. William Shakespeare and Thomas Marlowe incorporated poetry in their plays, which is known as verse drama. Structures, styles, and adding layers of meaning to poems, became popular during this time.

Drawing of William Shakespeare

In the Romantic period (1790-1830), poets were focused on finding new ways to express themselves. They wrote many pieces on individuality and nature, while valuing creativity over logic. Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift explored new forms and themes during this time. In the US, new poetic styles emerged out of the transcendentalist movement which started in the late 1820s and 1830s. Transcendentalists focused on creativity, nature and individuality.


Drawing of Alexander Pope

In todays world, poetry is far less popular than it used to be but it hasn’t completely disappeared. You can still find popular poets and poetry floating around. Poetry is often seen at bookstores, schools, and even in therapy. Poetry can help you understand the world and about yourself. When you truly know yourself, you also know what you can do to improve yourself. Poetry is a beautiful kind of art that has been and will be admired for centuries!

One popular poet in todays world is Rupi Kaur. She is an amazing women who self-published her books filled with poems at 21. These books include Milk and Honey, The Sun and Her Flowers, and Home Body. Her beautiful art can also be found on her Instagram @rupikaur_

Photo of Rupi Kaur

“Fall in love with your own solitude.”

-Rupi Kaur