History of Poetry

History of Poetry

There is a pleasure in poetic pains / Which only poets know.

William Cowper

A brief look at the history of poetry. Poetry is a form of communication that predates literacy itself. Original poetic form was a device that was created to remember oral history, stories, the law and genealogy. Poetry was expressed in song as well as special spoken word patterns. Poetry eventually became expressed in a musical format and give way to more classical styles of music throughout history.

Many ancient works including some of the most famous writings of our time were produced in some form of poetic form so that they could be easily spread and memorized in ancient societies. Before the printing press and before stories could be mass-produced, providing the storyteller with some type of memory device for telling a story was a very popular way to ensure that the story could be shared. Ancient works such as the Odyssey and more have poetic fragments that made it much easier to remember passages within the stories.

One of the oldest surviving columns was written around 4500 BC. It was composed in the language of hieratic and the title of the poem was called The Tail of The Shipwrecked Sailor. It is truly amazing that this poem still survives to this day at a testament to the memory device that was created by poetry.

Poetry evolved into a number of different styles throughout the ages.

Classical Poetry:

Classical poetry includes some of the ancient poetry as well as traditional Chinese poems and songs from the tent and seventh century. These poems were created to tell oral history and ensure that stories of the age were remembered correctly without having a need for literacy.

Modern Rhythmic Poetry:

This type of poetry was mostly to aid teaching devices and memory. In the 13th century this type of torture was created to remember the names of the months, the alphabet and more. These types of poetry were mostly to teach basic skills and functions rather than to spread oral history and traditions. Rhythmic poetry would quite often take the form of song and because of the rhythm and music it made it much easier to remember for people of this age.

Lyric Poetry:

Greek poetry made leaps and bounds in the sixth century BC by using complex choruses and hymns to produce dramatic verses and poetic plays. Many of these poetic performances were produced for playhouses and performance poetry. Quite often epic tales would be created and oral history would be shared using these types of poetry. Lyric poetry is still quite popular today.

Poetry Today:

Poetry today has changed significantly and many poets are using the Internet as a medium to reach new audiences. Because we can share in easier than ever before. Causing new poets to emerged each and every day, producing content on blogs and websites for all to see. Some poets still traditionally publish their work in novels and anthologies as well.


If you enjoy reading poetry check out my book of poetry titled Slopjar. It is full of soul touching poetry that will capture your heart’s attention.

history of poetry


Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.

– Joseph Roux





Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.

-William Wordsworth


History of Poetry

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