What is Poetry?

Meaning of the word Poetry:

Poetry is a word of Greek origin. It comes from a verb with means “to make, to create”. A poem is “something made or created”. The poet is the creator and language is the material out of which s/he creates his/her work of art.


The precise origins of poetry are unknown. It is a very ancient art which was born as an oral form and accompanied by simple music and dance. it expressed what people regarded as meaningful and memorable in their lives: natural disaster, births and deaths, brave actions, dangerous enemies, battles, etc.
It was often part of religious rites. Poets and listeners enjoyed playing with words, choosing and arranging them to produce music and meaning.

What a poem is:

Today poems exist in printed form, but the careful choice and arrangement of words still account for the unique quality of poetry.

Like other literary works poetry is made up of words. But what is special about poetry? How is reading poetry different from reading prose? A good start to answering the question is to consider what poetry is concerned with: poems.
A poem is a self-contained text, which makes sense as it stands. It differs from prose most obviously because it is written in lines whose length is decided by the author, not the printer.

How the poem looks on the page, its visual lay-out, is as important as its sound quality. A poem makes intense use of language, which results in a fare greater concentration of meaning than is commonly found in prose.

Guidelines for reading Poetry:

In approaching a poem, you can ask the text some simple questions which should help you to understand it:

What is the poem about?

Who is the voice speaking in the poem?

– To whom is the poem addressed?

– How is the poem written?

– Why has the poem been written?

Then… just enjoy it 🙂


107 Responses to What is Poetry?

  1. this is a nice clean description of the poem. i’d like to suggest that all reading is a dialog with the author, and that, in a poem, the author invents an entire universe for the reader; a new language, in effect. prose is a rearrangement of cliche’, poem should be the invention of it.

  2. Terri Strong says:

    Poetry is the rhythm of one’s soul, shared with the world of imagination.

  3. sarfraz says:

    A nice try to describe poem and poetry yet i would say it is not that much simple because poetry is a supernatural thing comes from ones inside.

  4. Pink Bunny says:

    Poetry is life.
    Poetry is death.

  5. jeanniel says:

    Poetry Is

    Poetry is what you want it to be
    It can be for everyone
    Or just for your eyes to see

    Poetry is what your soul sees
    And all what you intend for it to be

    Poetry is beauty
    Poetry is love
    Poetry is in the eyes of the beholder
    Poetry is love!

  6. Babette says:

    poetry is my soul singing to my heart.

  7. Charlotte says:

    poetry has no rules
    it dribbles out of the tips of pens and pencils
    and lands on paper
    in very

  8. kajoemanis says:

    poetry is when you appear
    as you and you alone
    without a single string
    in forms of word

  9. olgalednichenko says:

    When does Poetry Flow through your viens? – Olga Lednichenko

    My answer is:

    When you don’t have anyone to tell – you are in Pain.

    Olga Lednichenko


  10. Ngeng G. Yeo says:

    What is Poetry?

    Poetry is the euphony of masterfully organized words.
    Exert the intelligible meaning behind them.
    It is very onerous to be interpreted by the nerds.
    If we know how to utilize it, it is a sparkling gem.

    It could be a hymn of praise to the Omniscient.
    It should be created not only in college.
    Using rhythm is beauteous, but not sufficient.
    We should wield the synergism of knowledge.

    It should be an implement to procure successs.
    Use it as a medium of cerebral communication.
    Master this art in to achieve intellectual progress.
    It is very requsite in this age of information.

  11. […] PS. more definitions made of personal perspectives here. […]

  12. Dipen Nagpal says:

    Poetry is the love i feel,
    it’s the anger i subdue,
    it flows in me and
    calls my heart to me.
    It defines me as
    leaves define the flowing wind!
    It’s a praise to my ignorance
    and a jibe to my pride.
    It’s the elixir that keeps me alive
    and the wit that helps me see the divine!

  13. d c nelles says:

    are you guys fucking kidding me? if this is what you think poetry is about then i suggest you stop writing because you are a part of the problem. ever wonder why so many people write poetry and so few read it? its because of people like you who write poetry which isn’t and describe poetry in ways that make it amount to little more than a car repair manual.

    i’m the blue eyes
    by which the age sees,
    and when she sees me,
    she sees first in time,
    and when she goes,
    she thinks she sees,
    using sight to be blind.

    • Todd Milner says:

      What’s with the anger psycho? Poetry means something different to everyone. Did someone reject your work in the past or something? Tell you your work wasn’t good enough or something? Tell you they didn’t understand you, in general? I’m guessing yes. You’re actually going to sit on a soapbox and tell others that their opinions are wrong and matter not, then you assume, like an ignorant a&&hole, that not very many people read poetry? How the f&ck do you know who is reading poetry and who isn’t? Is there some statistical/scientific number out there that says who is reading poetry and who isn’t or are you a clairvoyant also? All I get out of your rude reply is that you are a narcissistic know-it-all who really knows LITTLE about life or people in general and are clearly not well traveled or well versed. If you have to get upset at a simple question regarding the meaning of poetry, I suggest you seek professional help for that over-inflated ego of yours because one day, someone will knock you on your ass for it. Why would anyone get angry at an opinion about poetry unless you are a complete whack job and most likely suffer from Asperger’s syndrome and probably a severe bi-polar who needs medicine.

  14. d c nelles says:

    okay maybe i should be a little more helpful. go to


    go to the end of the blog and there you will find the literary theory that should help each of you to understand what poetry is.

  15. Rainbow Dawn says:

    What Is Poetry? Poem
    By Laijon Liu (Final Edition 20090315 New York)

    Poetry pleases my ears
    that words sound in harmony,
    but not to a foreign tongue.

    Poetry draws a picture
    to invite my eyes,
    but still puzzles my mind.

    Poetry blows with wind,
    in water He flows,
    shouts in thunders,
    and bounces as rock in roll.

    Poetry preserves His truth,
    in secret codes, simple words,
    only reveals to the worthy.

    Poetry sings in my ears,
    dances in front my eyes,
    kisses my lips,
    brings fragrance,
    that fills my mind
    and imprints my soul.

    Extract from laijon

  16. Poetry is…
    Only if I knew;
    But then nobody really does.

  17. harijogja says:

    how about prose poetry?

  18. Sultan Dogan says:

    Poetry is the art of saying a lot with few words …

  19. da konvict says:

    only a trailer…
    an eclipse of thought.

    Wing tipped
    by the sun
    i see a different
    version of the moon
    A movie not yet seen in darkness
    A story not yet told by prophets
    No movie mongrel
    has siphoned the
    joy from the wing,
    the eclipse
    Clever this fore night
    how the transition
    of sun and moon
    cloud my thinking
    create this poem
    Somewhere in between.

    check more at and do follow me…!!!!

  20. Rob Krabbe says:

    I have read blogs where poetry is cut up and explained and rules applied and the ports judged and graded. I have heard the arguement that poetry as expression without the skill that only education brings is not poetry.

    Poetry however is one of the ways we can experience a person’s soul. I love new poets, to taste thier heart, with the words. Well written poetry is nice, sometimes great sopmetimes lifeless and boring. BUt to feel and taste a person’s heart and soul through the words of a poem, an expression of the depth of feeling, well right or wrong, well written, fiollowing the rules or not, as long as its honest I love reading it.

    My two cents.

    Blessings to all.

  21. Pete says:

    poetry is

  22. jorge says:

    I particularly agree with your observation of the visual aspect of a poem. The Red Wheelbarrow is comprised of 8 lines, every two of which form a wheelbarrow. There is an article at http://hubpages.com/hub/A-ComparisonContrast-of-Matsuo-Bashos-Under-Cherry-Trees-and-WC-Williams-The-Red-Wheelbarrow that nicely states how a few loaded words can result in crystal clear imagery.

  23. Jonathan says:

    Hey, an admirable explanation – much needed I think!

  24. Linda says:

    Poetry is the unheard voice crying out to be heard,
    the lines from the heart and soul more so than the head.
    Poetry is beauty, sadness, pain, hope, glory, defeat, inspiration and motivation all tied in together with a sprinkle of love from the authors.
    Poetry is the flow of words that just come from nowhere and have to be put on paper before forgotten forever.
    Poetry is what the reader reads it to be…..

  25. What a wonderful idea for a blog. I love the illustrations and poems you’ve chosen so far. Great design, great content. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  26. Pomes says:

    haha.. what is poetry??? In reality.. i only have one comment.. its not mean.. at least not trying to be.. but if you are asking such a question, then you should not be writing poetry..
    find out what it is first before writing

    • Madison Bierman says:

      Hello thats really nice information, but can
      you please tell me what poetry is because im
      not getting the whole idea of what your telling
      me! 🙂 xxx

      • Madison Bierman says:

        sorry i wasmt meant to write that to you
        i was ment to write it to the person who
        made this blog !! sorry 😀

  27. poetjena says:

    What? Poetry?

    Poetry is not like yesterday‛s scrambled eggs
    you know, although scramble it may.
    It‛s not like left over olives at some fancy person‛s
    cocktail party, next to the topless tobasco bottle, which
    wasn‛t really your cup of tea or mine, anyway.
    And, to me, it‛s also not like something you can record
    on an outdated cassette, where if you showed a lack of
    attention, you could just hit replay.
    Sometimes I imagine to myself it ought to be
    at least as easy as crossing your legs, racing a snail
    or wishing the rain wouldn’t stay.
    It‛s more like the idea of thoughts getting knitted
    together, and even allowing for an accident or two
    hoping the neck will still turn out okay.
    Besides, if it were just a matter of picking up your
    usual toothpaste from the supermarket.
    then we‛d all have something to say.

  28. Skitlers (Me) says:

    A Poets Words
    A writer words are stronger than the ones spoken
    Some say actions speak louder than words
    Pictures say one thousand words
    But poetry says more
    Poetry gives a picture then come the actions
    So that one thousand or more
    Plus let’s say one hundred
    A book brings a picture then action but not as much emotion as poetry
    Poetry speaks thought feeling
    The spoken words have emotion
    Just not as much as the ones written
    A child’s first story is always a rhyme, poetry
    A book literature is a started as a poem
    Quotes from a play a saying or such
    Poetry is all around us

  29. […] Poetry is probably my favorite hobby. […]

  30. I think the best way to get readers to come to your blog post is to comment on others. I like this post and I appreciate the information in it. This post bring to mind a stanza from my poem; Writers Of Positive Poetry, from my eBook; From The Mind Of A Humble Poet:

    “Let’s look at the definition of poetry; literature in metrical FORM. A rhythmic arrangement of sentences and syllables describes the result of a poem being BORN. Verbal melody and artistic rhyme, during these troubled times, can be used to deliver the truth so that those who don’t know, may be properly FOREWARNED.”

    have peace

  31. bookofpoem says:

    Book of Poem is a community of poets. Have you ever wondered what others
    may think of your poems, or if you need to learn to be a better Poet?
    If you have then this is the place for you. Register and publish your poems on http://www.bookofpoem.com and let the world read your poems. Enjoy the large database of poems and poet profiles.


    PS: The site is in beta mode. Please let us know issues bugs and fixes.

  32. rob says:

    ok. Not a poet. Not intellectually inclined. Not emotionally inclined. Was playing poker. Poker stars. Tonight. A comment. On chat. Leads me here. She talked of breaking into blossom. I blogged . I found. Am profoundly moved. I cried. Cant remember last time i cried. I am not at a crossroad. No life crisis. Am happy. Content. I wish i had stayed at school.

    • abjectbooks says:

      Why do you say you are not a poet? It seems like even this post could be made into a compelling poem. It’s got all the ingredients I would want in my own rough draft. Perhaps you should reconsider?

  33. abjectbooks says:

    I was also trying to have this conversation over at my own blog, I hadn’t seen this post! Some of you here my be interested in my blog. I am a shiny brand new digital publisher seeking submissions.

    My definition of poetry:An artfully crafted expression, often in words and sometimes metrical or rhyming, which is meant to appeal to its audience in both an intellectual and emotional way.

    To submit, interact, or if your bored stop by http://abjectbooks.wordpress.com

  34. Lynn Marie Ford says:

    Just when I thought I knew everything there is to know about poetry, you surprise me!

  35. Poetry as a form of literature,is beyond human expectation.

  36. Halima says:

    Poetry is a soul that describes other souls.

  37. Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer says:

    ¿Qué es poesía?, dices mientras clavas
    en mi pupila tu pupila azul.
    ¡Qué es poesía! ¿Y tú me lo preguntas?
    Poesía… eres tú.

    A rough translation into English reads:

    What is poetry? you ask, while fixing
    your blue pupil on mine.
    What is poetry! And you are asking me?
    Poetry… is you.

    • Al says:

      Poetry is an expression of the soul,and connecting fantasy and reality.
      It can be very beautiful or hurtful,it describes one’s feelings and imagination.

  38. Michael Dalvean says:

    Greetings all,

    I am new to this forum so please forgive any mistakes I make in regard to protocol etc.

    My main reason for joining is to get some feedback on some work I have done on the analysis of poetry. Basically, what I have done is uuse some rather amazing software to look at how less experienced poets use language as opposed to more experienced of “professional” poets. THe main finding is that professional as opposed to amateur poets tend to use more concrete language than amateur poets and also use fewer emotional and psychological terms than amateur poets. Thus, the dictum “show rather than tell” does seem to apply.

    Because it is possible to quantify what makes a “professional” poem I have used this information to give a rank to a number of poets whose work appears in the anthology ‘Contemporary American Poetry’ (Poulin & Waters, 2006). That is I rank contemporary American poems on a scale from “amateur” to “professional”. The upshot is that, of the poems in the selection, ‘Working Late’ by Louis Simpson is the most archetypically professional (contains more concrete language and less emotional and psychological language while ‘Blackberry Eating’ Galway Kinnell is the least archetypically professional.

    I would be interested to hear the response of anyone to the basic research so that I can refine the methods in the light of criticisms and suggestions.

    To look at the paper please go to


    and select “Download This Paper”.

    I hope to hear from you soon.


    Michael Dalvean

  39. […] that by consulting the experts: I read dead poets; I spoke with living ones; I scanned an excellent poetry blog; I even interviewed a very precocious second grader — my daughter’s friend. Most everyone […]

  40. deka poetra says:

    poetry IS the audience focus the meaning ,and than in the sentence has figurative languange ,and we can’t to direct understand ….except we can to dissolve the meaning,,,,

  41. Poetry is life
    It is our stories, collectively
    It is in the simplest terms, our existence
    Our being
    For the lovers as well as the non-believers


  42. skeips says:

    Poetry is inspired flow of thoughts expressed in words and arranged in beautiful, meaningful and musical way in a tranquil environment.

  43. Eko Smart says:

    Thanks for ur poetry. Pls i like to ve more of ur explanation.

  44. Thomas Agba says:

    Poetry is way of taking life by the throat

  45. stephaine chika okeke says:

    Tanx for enlighting me.I can now try the proceedure u stipulated.

  46. deka poetra says:

    poetry is kinds of literature ,a source about your expression

  47. Chris ugochukwu says:

    Poem is emotions put into measure or a painting picture which deals with expression of human feelings

  48. cba says:

    poem is nothing but poem, which makes me to die in heaven live in hell

  49. kelechi Anaba says:

    poetry is just a verbalized emotional thought

  50. PEARL says:

    Guyz.. Ever heard of ‘Spoken words poetry’… Itz awesome

  51. sangeetha. says:

    good try

  52. sue marquis bishop says:

    Poems to just enjoy. I’m with you on that.

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  54. Hi all, I have just created a new website compiling all of my poetry. Spoken word included. Please offer feedback if you like my work! Alternatively, contact on alexfrostpoet@live.co.uk


  55. Enitan alaba temitope says:

    Geat knowledge

  56. tim dyson says:

    beauty without meaning to be beauty




    poem is an inspired song.

  59. Dylan says:

    poetry cannot be defined; it cannot be captured by words or thoughts…it can only be defined by what it is not…and, of course, that is no definition at all…but you know when something is poetic, when the words are a poem. Poetry is memeber of that select group of ideas and concepts that stubbornly defy explanation and yet we know when we experience them…and then…there is good poetry and no so good poetry…

  60. A nice, well to describe peot

  61. Nice defination of peotry

  62. JAMIU SAGIRU says:

    Nice meaning of poetry

  63. I am a poet, who
    refuses to be an outcast

  64. kabir says:

    Nice one there.

  65. Kezang Dawa says:

    Poem is words comes from a broken heart subdued in man’s soul,……

  66. skbthura says:

    good choice

  67. Elena l. says:

    I think poetry is something that describes the word from itself.
    It is from a greek origin.it comes with a verb or a adverb.

  68. NAurah says:

    poetry is ….. words

  69. audrey10 says:

    what kind of foolishness is this.DO BETTER!!!!!

  70. albert montoya says:

    Actors they are not seems everything a crime where she once stood meany came to take away her dreams.And yours and all of mine.they stop and stear.Cold in coverd sheets are yellow.once again streets that decive pray for me.they took her life.and now she bleeds yearning for life . They stand around steping.back time for change she see herself wondering why she leying there .A change in time they wait for me who is this man who prays for me . Kept away María

  71. Maria milinga says:

    I agree with that explanation about poetry bu more thing to Add is that when we explain about poetry the thing to consider is imaginative,
    Figurative language
    Is powerful in arousing emotion and
    Reflect human experiences

  72. Tumaini juma says:

    Poems started to be used during ancient time,mainly to describe great peolpe like king and queen.

  73. Priya Batra says:

    A poem is a lucrative piece of writing which delivers intense ideas and feelings of the expression of the poet with a specific attention to the diction including imagery, rhyme and rhythm.
    You can even describe a poem as “the arrangement of words which holds musicality as well as the meaning.” Poems are divided into stanzas and can be rhyming or nonrhyming, with a meter or a free flow.
    Read More: http://www.yoalfaaz.com/blog/2/what-is-a-poem

  74. This is an awesome guideline to comprehending poetry. It has helped me a great deal. Thanks a zillion times.

  75. neveah acker says:

    who wrote this article?

  76. […] What is Poetry? | Poetry blog – What is Poetry? Poetry is the … In reality.. i only have one comment.. its not mean.. at least not trying to be.. but if you are asking such a … Okema, Leonard … […]

  77. Poets have been challenging the concept of what poetry is since Wordsworth and the Romantics (probably for centuries before, but the Romanitcs wrote in open rebellion).

    In the twentieth century many of us tried to return poety to its oral roots, heavily influenced by the beat poets, who believed in more than just reading their poetry aloud for audiences. By the seventies and eighties poetry had evolved into performance art with open mikes flourishing in coffee houses everywhere and poets waiting for hours just to get ten minutes behind the the mike.

    While some still read poems they wrote predominantly to be read from the page, others (and I include myself) believed there was no difference between the writing and performance of poetry and often improvised poetry on stage, sometimes with input and participation from the audience. We also worked with masks, musicians, and video or (from the late eighties on) computer supported multimedia that included midi devices, animations or video tapes, multi-channel tape decks and other electronic devices to overdub or create chorus-like effects from our performances. We performed partially in homage to the poetry in the Greek chorus which is traditionally seen to be the origins of poetry.

    By the nineties the performance art of poetry gave way to the slam poets and slam poetry contests, which focused exclusively on oral performance and memorization of the poetic line. Engaging audiences was essential to the success of slam poetry and contests played to packed houses.

    In short, the traditional view of poetry as written word, while technically correct, limits our understanding of the range and scope of poetry. Much of the poetry produced in performance is ultimately lost to history, not because it’s never written down, it is. But little of it was intended to make a permanent impression and disappears the way drafts of unpublished poems and poems in little journals that fail to find archive space in libraries disappear.

    (Many readers don’t know this, but libraries routinely cull older books and literary journals to make room for newer material by shipping the books to online sellers, conducting their own bargain sales or donating them to charities. Many volumes of poetry are lost through this culling process, so unless a published volume makes it to the Library of Congress, it will not stick around for too many years.)

  78. @anasdauda says:

    so ietresting!

  79. Qaisar Abbas says:

    what is poem

  80. joon says:

    Thanks admin for sharing this useful info about poetry with us best of luck your poetry site is awesome Jaun elia is a big name in poetry i search on internet only few sited have jaun poetry.

  81. […] definitions and features of poetry, I came across a seemingly defunct wordpress website entitled Poetry Blog, which I found very […]

  82. Lauina says:

    What is poem
    Why has the poem been written
    how is the poem writtenwho is the voice speaking in the poem
    to whom is the poem addresed

  83. […] definitions and features of poetry, I came across a seemingly defunct wordpress website entitled Poetry Blog, which I found very […]

  84. moses victory says:

    poetry is a genre of literature that expresses human feelings and emotions in metrical compositional form. and its also written in lines and stanzas. edgar allan poe defined poetry as the rhythmical creation of beauty. while wordsworth defined poetry as the spontaneous flow of powerful feelings and emotions recollected in tranquility. thomas hardy also define poetry as human emotions puts into measure

  85. Bushra says:

    Poetry is a tool that has a healing power to comfort and solace our soul through its wings we can fly over the unknown and beautiful space and touch the feet of sky as well as mountains .

  86. […] Greek word for “workmanship” is poiema. We are therefore God’s poem or poetic […]

  87. […] is rather poetic, and like most definitions doesn’t give you much to go on. You can find a brief definition of poetry, but it will just mention a few elements of poetry, such as musicality, word choice, and form. A […]

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