Welcome to the Poetry Portal

The first lines of the Iliad
The first lines of the Iliad
Great Seal Script character for poetry, ancient China
Great Seal Script character for poetry, ancient China

Poetry (a term derived from the Greek word poiesis, "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre − to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, a prosaic ostensible meaning. A poem is a literary composition, written by a poet, using this principle.

Poetry has a long and varied history, evolving differentially across the globe. It dates back at least to prehistoric times with hunting poetry in Africa and to panegyric and elegiac court poetry of the empires of the Nile, Niger, and Volta River valleys. Some of the earliest written poetry in Africa occurs among the Pyramid Texts written during the 25th century BCE. The earliest surviving Western Asian epic poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh, was written in the Sumerian language.

Early poems in the Eurasian continent evolved from folk songs such as the Chinese Shijing as well as from religious hymns (the Sanskrit Rigveda, the Zoroastrian Gathas, the Hurrian songs, and the Hebrew Psalms); or from a need to retell oral epics, as with the Egyptian Story of Sinuhe, Indian epic poetry, and the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. (Full article...)

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The original Gawain manuscript
The original Gawain manuscript
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Middle English: Sir Gawayn and þe Grene Knyȝt) is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance. It is one of the best known Arthurian stories, and is of a type known as the "beheading game". The Green Knight is interpreted by some as a representation of the Green Man of folklore and by others as an allusion to Christ. Written in bob and wheel stanzas, it draws on Welsh, Irish and English stories, as well as the French chivalric tradition. It is an important poem in the romance genre, which typically involves a hero who goes on a quest which tests his prowess, and it remains popular to this day in modern English renderings from J. R. R. Tolkien, Simon Armitage and others, as well as through film and stage adaptations.

It describes how Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table, accepts a challenge from a mysterious "Green Knight" who challenges any knight to strike him with his axe if he will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts and beheads him with his blow, at which the Green Knight stands up, picks up his head and reminds Gawain of the appointed time. In his struggles to keep his bargain Gawain demonstrates chivalry and loyalty until his honour is called into question by a test involving Lady Bertilak, the lady of the Green Knight's castle.

The poem survives in a single manuscript, the Cotton Nero A.x., which also includes three religious narrative poems: Pearl, Purity and Patience. All are thought to have been written by the same unknown author, dubbed the "Pearl Poet" or "Gawain Poet", since all four are written in a North West Midland dialect of Middle English. (Full article...)

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Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
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Wystan Hugh Auden (/ˈwɪstən ˈhjuː ˈɔːdən/; 21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973), who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, later an American citizen, and is regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature.

Auden grew up in and near Birmingham in a professional middle-class family and read English literature at Christ Church, Oxford. His early poems from the late 1920s and early 1930s, written in an intense and dramatic tone and in a style that alternated between telegraphic modern and fluent traditional, established his reputation as a left-wing political poet and prophet. In the late 1930s he became uncomfortable in this role and abandoned it after he moved to the United States in 1939, where in 1946 he became an American citizen. In his poems from the 1940s he explored religious and ethical themes in a less dramatic manner than in his earlier works, and combined traditional forms and styles with new, original forms. The focus of many of his poems from the 1950s and 1960s was on the ways in which words revealed and concealed emotions. He took a particular interest in writing opera librettos, a form ideally suited to direct expression of strong feelings.

He was also a prolific writer of prose essays and reviews on literary, political, psychological and religious subjects, and he worked at various times on documentary films, poetic plays and other forms of performance. Throughout his career he was both controversial and influential. After his death, some of his poems, notably "Funeral Blues" ("Stop all the clocks"), "Musée des Beaux Arts", "Refugee Blues", "The Unknown Citizen", and "September 1, 1939", became known to a much wider public than during his lifetime through films, broadcasts, and popular media. (Full article...)

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Mandala 1, Hymn 1, Rigveda by anonymous
1. I Laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God, minister of sacrifice,
   The hotar, lavishest of wealth.
2. Worthy is Agni to be praised by living as by ancient seers.
   He shall bring. hitherward the Gods.
3. Through Agni man obtaineth wealth, yea, plenty waxing day by day,
   Most rich in heroes, glorious.
4. Agni, the perfect sacrifice which thou encompassest about
   Verily goeth to the Gods.
5. May Agni, sapient-minded Priest, truthful, most gloriously great,
   The God, come hither with the Gods.
6. Whatever blessing, Agni, thou wilt grant unto thy worshipper,
   That, Angiras, is indeed thy truth.
7. To thee, dispeller of the night, O Agni, day by day with prayer
   Bringing thee reverence, we come
8. Ruler of sacrifices, guard of Law eternal, radiant One,
   Increasing in thine own abode.
9. Be to us easy of approach, even as a father to his son:
   Agni, be with us for our weal.

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