Chambers's Encyclopædia





[Poetry ]


PO'ETRY (from the Greek poieo, to make, or to create), according to the mere etymology of the word, signifies a creation or production of any kind; but its classical equivalent, poiēsis, was applied by the Greeks almost exclusively to designate the artistic productions of the imagination, expressed in language. Poetry is thus not necessarily associated – as many people seem to think – with verse or rhyme. It may find expression in prose, and in point of fact has often done so, both in ancient and modern times. The Book of Ruth, for example, is decidedly poetical in substance, yet in form it is strictly prosaic. The same may be said in a still more remarkable degree of the Book of Job and the Prophetical Writings, as they appear in our English version. Jeremy Taylor, Hooker, Rousseau, Burke, Carlyle, Ruskin, Hawthorne, Emerson, and other modern prose writers, are often as richly or profoundly imaginative as poets by profession; but although the essence of poetry lies rather in the nature and adornment of the thoughts expressed than in the form of the composition, yet in general it has subjected itself to certain rules of metre or measure, and often also to rules of rhyme. The reason of this practice lies in the fact that the music so produced by the mere words is found to heighten the emotions which their meaning is calculated to produce, and thus furthers the end that the poet has in view. It is from this circumstance that the term poetry has become almost synonymous with metrical composition. Poetical compositions are of several kinds or classes, to which particular terms are applicable; the principal are the Epic (q.v.), the Lyric (q.v.), and the Drama (q.v.). To the first of these belongs the Ballad (q.v.); to the second belong the Song (q.v.) in all its varieties, serious and comic, the Hymn (q.v.), Ode (q.v.), Anthem (q.v.), Elegy (q.v.), Sonnet (q.v.), &c.; the third embraces Tragedy and Comedy. Besides these three principal kinds, others of less consequence may be mentioned, such as Didactic Poetry (q.v.), Satirical Poetry (see SATIRE), in which, however, imaginative and ideal elements in general mingle so sparingly that the stricter kind of critics exclude them from the circle of poetry altogether. The Germans have produced several treatises on the history of poetry, such as Rosenkranz's Handbuch einer allgemeinern Geschichte der Poesie (3 vols. Halle, 1832), and Zimmermann's Geschichte der Poesie aller Völker (Stuttg. 1847).





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

Chambers's Encyclopædia.
A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the People.
Revised Edition.
Volume VII. London, Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers 1874, S. 624.


Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).

Chambers's Encyclopaedia (Revised Edition. 10 Bde. 1874/76)   online








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Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer