Introduction

The Nature of poetry

Poetry is the most stylised and abstract of literary forms.  Although narratives, characters, and settings can be found in poems, they are not essential; in many poems, time and place remain ill-defined, and characters are rarely fleshed out or developed.

  • The focus of poetry is on language: its many complexities and nuances of meaning; its sounds as well as its sense; the patterns words can form on the printed page.
  • Poetry condenses meaning into the most compact, rich and suggestive form possible.
  • Many poems seek to capture and evoke a mode or image.

Because of the condensed and often abstract quality of poetry, the meaning of many poems is not immediately apparent, and the skills of interpreting and analysing poetry take a long time to develop.

Beardwood, Robert. Literature for Senior Students. Insight, 2012.