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Literary Genres. Poetic Genres. A circular walking bookshelf, part of the Archive Series Collection designed by Barcelona born architect David Garcia (1970). The collection was showcased at the Royal Danish Art Academy Fall 2005.

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literary genres

Literary Genres

Poetic Genres


A circular walking bookshelf, part of the Archive Series Collection designed by Barcelona born architect David Garcia (1970). The collection was showcased at the Royal Danish Art Academy Fall 2005

aristotle on the art of poetry translated by ingram bywater oxford clarendon press 1920
Aristotle : On the Art of Poetry Translated by Ingram BywaterOxford: Clarendon Press, 1920

“Our subject being Poetry, I propose to speak not only

of the art in general but also of its species and their

respective capacities; of the structure of plot required

for a good poem; of the number and nature of the

constituent parts of a poem; and likewise of any other

matters in the same line of inquiry.”

Note: Aristotle’s work is better known under the title“Poetics” but

the translation quoted above is alsorelevant and reliable.

aristotle cont
Aristotle cont.

“Epic poetry and Tragedy, as also Comedy,

Dithyrambicpoetry, and mostflute-playing and

lyre-playing, are all,viewed as a whole, modesof


But at the sametime they differfrom oneanother in

threeways, eitherby a differenceof kind intheir

means, or by differencesin theobjects,or in the

manner of their imitations.”

Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, 1483–1520)
Aristotle cont.Classification according to the difference in themanner in which eachkind of object is represented:

“Given both the same means and the samekind of

object for imitation, one may either

  • speak at onemoment in narrative and at another in

an assumedcharacter, as Homer does; or

(2)one may remain thesame throughout, without any

such change; or

(3) theimitators may represent the whole story

dramatically,as though theywere actually doing the


tripartite division
Tripartite Division

Aristotle in the first passages of his work argues that

different arts can be separated on the basis of the

kinds of means they employ. However, you won’t find

the so-called Aristotelian tripartite classification in his

poetics. There is a division between dramatic poetry

(theatre as direct imitation of persons) and epic poetry

which is the narrative portrayal of human actions.

There is no clear-cut recognition of lyric poetry. Direct

expression of personal feelings and thoughts was

added after a long process by the 16th century.


Martin Montgomery, Alan Durant,Nigel Fabb, TomFurniss and Sara Mills: Ways ofReading. 3rd Edition.London and New York: Routledge, 2007

g enre source ways of reading pp 41 47
Genre(Source: Ways of Reading, pp 41-47)

“In its most general sense, ‘genre’ simply means a

sort, or type, oftext: thriller, horror movie, musical,

autobiography, tragedy, etc.”

“The word comes from the Latin word ‘genus’,

meaning ‘kind’ or‘type’ of anything, not just literary or

artistic works.”

“(‘Genus’, infact, is still used to describe a technical sense of

type,in theclassification of species; and ‘generic’ is sometimes

used tomean‘broad’ or ‘with the properties of a whole type or


ways of reading cont
Ways of Reading, cont.

“There is an obvious convenience in being able to label

texts. We can fit any given text into a class that offers a

convenient shorthand in which to describe what it is

like: it resembles others that people already know.”

“The notion is useful when applied not only to literary

works but also to non-literary discourse,

distinguishing the typical features of, say, a shopping

list from those of food labeling, a menu or a recipe.”

ways of reading cont difficulties
Ways of Reading, cont.Difficulties

"For all its convenience, however, the notion of genre

presents difficulties. Is there a fixed number of sorts of

text? If so, when and how was this decided, and on

what basis? And who will decide for still evolving

types, such as emergent styles in popular music,

texting or multimedia?

A more theoretical question also arises: whether genre

is a prescriptive category – grouping features to be

incorporated into writing or production of a given type

– or whether it is descriptive, generalizing on the basis

of agreement among language users."

ways of reading cont classi cation on the basis of formal arrangement
Ways of Reading, cont. Classification on the basis of formal arrangement

"One basis for classifying texts is their formal

properties. Sonnets, for instance, have fourteen lines

and follow distinctive stanzaic and rhyme patterns. At

the same time, sonnets are a type of poetry,which in

turn exists within a conventional three-way distinction

between poetry,drama and fiction – a classification

derived historically from Aristotle’s distinction between

lyric, epic or narrative, and drama."

ways of reading cont difficulties14
Ways of Reading, cont.Difficulties

"Aristotle further emphasized one particular,

distinguishing aspect of form: who speaks. Lyrics are

uttered in the first person; in epic or narrative, the

narrator speaks in the first person, then lets characters

speak for themselves; in drama, the characters do all

the talking."

"Although common ever since Aristotle, genre

classification on the basis of formal differences can be

difficult to sustain. What about verse drama? Or

narrative poetry (as in ballads)?"

ways of reading cont classi cation on the basis of theme or topic
Ways of Reading, cont.Classification on the basis of theme or topic

"Sometimes subject matter is the basis for genre

classification. Texts showthematic affinities by

treating thesame or similar topics, often topics or

subjectmatter thatmay be especially important for the

society in which thetexts circulate (e.g. war, love,

independence struggles)."

ways of reading cont difficulties16
Ways of Reading, cont.Difficulties

"The pastoral, for instance, is concerned with country

life;crime fiction isabout crime; biography relates

events in a life, etc.; but in principle it is possible to treat

anyof thesetopics following formal conventions of

any of the differentkinds listedabove, or in different

moods that will createdifferent kinds of effect on the

reader or viewer."

ways of reading cont classi cation on the basis of mood or anticipated response
Ways of Reading, cont.Classification on the basis of mood or anticipated response

"What a text is about can overlap with an attitude or

emotion conventionally adopted towards that subject

matter. Pastoral often implies not just concern

with country life, but also a reflective or nostalgic

mode. Elegies – although first defined on the basis of

the metre they used – became primarily concerned

with lamenting deaths (and often take the form of

pastoral elegies, delivered in the personae of


ways of reading cont difficulties18
Ways of Reading, cont.Difficulties

"A more complex case is that of tragedy. Classical

tragedy combinesconventions about the protagonist

(the ‘tragic hero’, who has a character witha crucial

flaw) and conventions about the nature of the plot (in

which the maincharacter typically suffers and dies). At

the same time, tragedy is also defined(at least in

Aristotle’s account in Poetics) by its characteristic

mode of audience response: what Aristotle called

catharsis, or a purging or purification bymeans of

feelings of pity and fear aroused in the audience by the


ways of reading cont classi cation on the basis of occasion
Ways of Reading, cont.Classification on the basis of occasion

"Literary forms may now seem specialized kinds of

discourse, isolated from therest of society and mainly

discussed in literature classes, but for most of its

history literature has not been marked off within

specified boundaries in thisway. Rather, its

involvement in public life, including in various kinds of

socialritual, meant that many different texts had their

origins in composition for orperformance on specific

kinds of social occasion."

ways of reading cont20
Ways of Reading, cont.

"An epithalamium is apoem written for – and

proclaimed at – a public occasion, in celebration of

a victorious person (e.g. an athlete or a general). The

genre of elegy evolvedduring the seventeenth century

into its modern role as a consolatory lamentfor the

death of a particular person. Ballads began as poems

to be danced to,but evolved into two divergent

traditions: continuing folk ballads in the oral

tradition, and urban broadside ballads circulated as

single sheets or chapbooksthat typically contained

popular songs, jests, romantic tales and sensational

topical stories."

ways of reading cont classi cation on the basis of mode of address
Ways of Reading, cont.Classification on the basis of mode of address

"Even when dissociated from specific social occasions

orperformance rituals,texts are still in some cases

labelledon the basis of how they address theirreaders

oraudience. Some texts involve direct address to a

reader or audience(e.g. public speeches, letters);

others have a specificaddressee named in thetext but

are written so as to beoverheard (e.g. odes,dialogue

in most stage drama).Sometimes within a singleform

there is variationbetween modes of address."

genre classification
Genre Classification

A few examples of various modes of address


Henry Fielding: The History of Tom JonesBook X. In Which the History Goes Forward aboutTwelve HoursI. Containing Instructions VeryNecessary toBe Perused by Modern Critics

READER, it is impossible we should know what sort of

person thou wilt be; for, perhaps, thou may’st be as

learnedin human nature as Shakespear himself was,

and, perhaps,thou may’st be no wiser than some of his

editors. Now, lestthis latter should be the case, we

think proper, before wego any farther together, to give

thee a few wholesomeadmonitions; that thou may’st

not as grossly misunderstandand misrepresent us, as

some of the said editors havemisunderstood and

misrepresented their author.


Image is a frontispiece etching of Henry Fielding (1707-1754) from a 1920 edition of The History of the Life of the Late Mr Jonathan Wild the Great. Original image is from a drawing by William Hogarth (1697-1764)

william shakespeare julius caesar act iii scene 1 rome before the capitol the senate sitting above
William Shakespeare: Julius CaesarAct III Scene 1Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above.

ANTONYO mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,Who else must be let blood, who else is rank:If I myself, there is no hour so fitAs Caesar's death hour, nor no instrumentOf half that worth as those your swords, made richWith the most noble blood of all this world.I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,Fulfil your pleasure. Live a thousand years,I shall not find myself so apt to die:No place will please me so, no mean of death,As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,The choice and master spirits of this age.

robert browning my last duchess
Robert Browning: My Last Duchess

That's my last duchess painted on the wall,Looking as if she were alive. I callThat piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's handsWorked busily a day, and there she stands.Will't please you sit and look at her? I said"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never readStrangers like you that pictured countenance,The depth and passion of its earnest glance,But to myself they turned (since none puts byThe curtain I have drawn for you, but I)And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,How such a glance came there; so, not the firstAre you to turn and ask thus.

recognizing or deciding what genre a text is in ways of reading
Recognizing or deciding what genre a text is inWays of Reading

"Criteria for distinguishing different genrestend to

worktogether rather than independentlyof one

another.Deciding what genre a text is intherefore

involvesweighing up a number ofinterlocking

considerations.This can make it difficult to judge

whether a text fits a category simply by ticking off

features in a list of required attributes."

genre as an expression of conventional agreement ways of reading
Genre as an expression of conventional agreementWays of Reading

"An alternative to thinking of genre as a list of

essentialproperties is to startinstead with the idea

that genres maybe focused in especially influential

textsthat serve asexemplary cases. Sophocles’s

Oedipus Rex (c.400 BC) is oftenappealed to as an

exemplary tragedy, for example: asort of benchmark,

withother texts defined as tragedies tothe extent that

they are similar to it. Thisview of genre,where a

prototype is taken to exist and where other texts

arejudged to be more or less close to the prototype,

enables texts to be assignedto genres even when they

donot have all the apparently necessary features."

genre as an expression of conventional agreement cont ways of reading
Genre as an expression of conventional agreement, cont.Ways of Reading

"It then becomes possible for a text to be a novel even

if it has no discernible narrative (as many experimental

novels don’t), so long as the text works with or

exploits our expectation that it should have."

"Even notions of the typical or ‘prototypical’ are not

fixed, however. Generic conventions come to us as a

historical legacy, shaped and reshaped by the

changing production and circulation of texts, as well as

by changing attitudes to them."

functions of genre ways of reading
Functions of genreWays of Reading

Genre as a framework for a text’s intelligibility

"The main psychological function of genre is to act as a sort of schema, or structured set of assumptions within our tacit knowledge, that we draw on to guidereading, rather like a series of signposts or instructions."

Genre as reflecting the nature of human experience

"Some critics have suggested connections between specificgenres and fundamental kinds of human experience."

functions of genre cont ways of reading
Functions of genre, cont.Ways of Reading

Genre as a promotional device

"By comparison with the previous two functions, most other functions suggested for genre are concerned more with the social circulation of texts than with cognitive processes involved in interpreting them. Genres allow audiences to predict and plan kinds of experience for themselves. (The problemsolving pleasure of detective fiction, for a story to make you cry, etc.)"

Genre as a way of controlling markets and audiences

"Genres in this view are part of a process of controlling the production of entertainment and directing culture markets, by actively repeating the formula of whatever has already been successful. (The financing of Hollywood films, with notable exceptions, is often argued to follow this pattern.)"

j a cuddon dictionary of literary terms and literary theory 4th ed london penguin books 1999 p 342
J. A. Cuddon: Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 4th ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1999, p 342)

Genre is a French term for a kind, a literary type or

class. The major Classical genres were: epic, tragedy,

lyric, comedy and satire, to which would now be added

novel and short story. From the Renaissance and until

well on into the 18th century the genres were carefully

distinguished and writers were expected to follow the

rules prescribed for them.

Chris Baldick: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp 104-105)

Genre - The French term for a type, species, or class of

composition. A literary genre is a recognizable and

established categoryof written work employing such

common CONVENTIONS as will preventreaders or

audiences from mistaking it for another kind. Much of

theconfusion surrounding the term arises from the

fact that it isusedsimultaneously for the most basic

modes of literary art(LYRIC, NARRATIVE, DRAMATIC);

for the broadestcategories of composition(poetry,

prose fiction),

concise oxford dictionary of literary terms cont
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, cont.

and formore specialized sub-categories, which are

definedaccording to several different criteria including

formalstructure(SONNET, PICARESQUE NOVEL),

length(NOVELLA, EPIGRAM), intention(SATIRE),

effect(COMEDY), origin (FOLKTALE), and subject


While somegenres,such as the pastoralELEGY or the

MELODRAMA, havenumerous conventions governing

subject, style, and form,others—like the NOVEL—have

no agreed rules,althoughthey may include several

more limited SUBGENRES.

wikipedia definition of literary genres
Wikipedia definition of Literary genres

A literary genre is a category of literary composition.

Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone,

content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length.

Genreshould not be confused with age category, by

whichliterature may be classified as either adult,

young-adult orchildren's. They also must not be

confused with format,such as graphic novel or picture

book. The distinctionsbetween genres and categories

are flexible and looselydefined, often with subgroups.

wikipedia cont
Wikipedia, cont.

The most general genres in literature are (in loose

chronological order) epic, tragedy, comedy, novel,

short story, and creative nonfiction. They can all be in

the genres prose or poetry, which shows best how

loosely genres are defined. Additionally, a genre such

as satire, allegory or pastoral might appear in any of

the above, not only as a sub-genre, but asa mixture of

genres. Finally, they are defined by thegeneral cultural

movement of the historical period inwhich they were


wikipedia cont38
Wikipedia, cont.


Genres are often divided into sub-genres. Literature,

forinstance, is divided into three basic kinds of

literature, theclassic genres of Ancient Greece, poetry,

drama, andprose. Poetry may then be subdivided into

epic, lyric, anddramatic. Subdivisions of drama

include foremost comedyand tragedy, while e.g.

comedy itself has sub-genres, including farce, comedy

of manners, burlesque, satire andso on.

wikipedia cont39
Wikipedia, cont.

Dramatic poetry, instance, might include comedy,

tragedy, melodrama, and mixtures like

tragicomedy. This parsing into sub-genres can

continue: "comedy" has its own genres, including, for

example, comedy of manners, sentimental comedy,

burlesque comedy, and satirical comedy.

Creative nonfiction can cross many genres but is

typicallyexpressed in essays, memoir, and other

forms that may ormay not be narrative but share the

characteristics of beingfact-based, artistically

rendered prose.

wikipedia cont40
Wikipedia, cont.

Often, the criteria used to divide up works into genres

arenot consistent, and may change constantly, and be

subjectof argument, change and challenge by both

authors andcritics.

Genres may easily be confused with literary

techniques,but, though only loosely defined, they are

not the same;examples are parody, frame story,

constrained writing,stream of consciousness.

literary kinds or genres
Literary Kinds or Genres

Although the term seems highly flexible (if not vague) it

is yet to be used for literary analyses.

Literay kinds and genres are hierarchical, like a family tree:

Kind or Genre

Genre Subgenre

Subgenre Sub-subgenre

literary kinds or genres42
Literary Kinds or Genres


Poetry Drama Fiction



Elegy Ode Epistle etc. Tragedy Comedy Novel Short story

Morality Miracle etc. Romance etc.



Funeral / Revenge / Picaresque /

Pastoral Domestic Epistolary /

Utopia /


literary kinds or genres43
Literary Kinds or Genres

Here is a list of literary genres as defined by the

California Department of Education


Although kinds/genres are hierarchical, this list

differentiates between two main categories (fiction and

nonfiction, i.e. works of imagination and factual

information) and, for simplicity’s sake, within these

categories provides two lists in alphabetical order.

all fiction
All Fiction

DramaStories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotion are expressed through dialogue and action.

Fable Narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as humans; legendary, supernatural tale.

Fairy Tale Story about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for children.

Fantasy Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality.

fiction cont
Fiction, cont.

Fiction Narrative literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.

Fiction in Verse Full-length novels with plot, subplot(s), theme(s), major and minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in (usually blank) verse form.

Folklore The songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a people or "folk" as handed down by word of mouth.

Historical Fiction Story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.

Horror Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader.

fiction cont46
Fiction, cont.

Humour Fiction full of fun, fancy, and excitement, meant to entertain; but can be contained in all genres.

Legend Story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material.

Mystery Fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the unravelling of secrets.

Mythology Legend or traditional narrative, often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behaviour and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods.

fiction cont47
Fiction, cont.

Poetry Verse and rhythmic writing with imagery that creates emotional responses.

Realistic Fiction Story that can actually happen and is true to life.

Science Fiction Story based on impact of actual, imagined, or potential science, usually set in the future or on other planets.

Short Story Fiction of such brevity that it supports no subplots.

Tall Tale Humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes who do the impossible with nonchalance.

all nonfiction
All Nonfiction

Biography/Autobiography Narrative of a person's life, a true story about a real person.

Essay A short literary composition that reflects the author's outlook or point.

Narrative Nonfiction Factual information presented in a format which tells a story.

Nonfiction Informational text dealing with an actual, real-life subject.

Speech Public address or discourse.

california department of education
California Department of Education

Despite its pragmatic reduction, even this division is

debatable. To what extent does a biased biography or

an apologetic autobiography distorting facts belong to


classification categorization
Classification, categorization

For clarifications, definitions of terms, go for

Chris Baldick: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001

J. A. Cuddon: Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 4th ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999

Alex Preminger, ed.: Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, enlarged ed. London: Macmillan, 1975

narrative poetry
Narrative Poetry

1 Narrative Poetry is poetry that has a plot. The poems

maybe short or long. Narrative poems include

Heroic epic:Beowulf

Epic poetry–John Milton: Paradise Lost

William Wordsworth: Prelude

S. T. Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Romances – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Edmund Spenser: The Faeire Queene

Mock heroic: Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock

narrative poetry cont
Narrative Poetry, cont.

Novels in verse – George Byron: Don Juan

Ballads – Sir Patrick Spens

Idylls – Tennyson: Idylls of the King

Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a

sequences ofinterrelated short stories resembling

short stories

poetic genres narrative dramatic and lyric poetry
Poetic GenresNarrative, Dramatic, and Lyric Poetry

2 Dramatic Poetry

Dramatic poetry is any poetry that uses the discourse

of thecharacters involved to tell a story or portray a

situation.In this sense verse drama, such as William

Shakespeare’splays, belong to the category of

dramatic poetry. Poetic plays, not necessarilymeant

for stage production, are alsodramatic poetry.These

are also termed as closet dramas.A good exampleis P.

B. Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound.Dramatic

monologues, such as Robert Browning’s MyLast

Duchess,can also be regarded as dramaticpoetry.

lyric poetry scruples of categorization re visited
Lyric PoetryScruples of categorization re-visited

When discussing and classifying lyric poetry,

categories show a cavalcade of often incongruent

terms mixing up thematic, metrical, formal and other

approaches.Do philosophical poems or war poems

Constitutegenres? When discussing the poetry of

John Donne, do love poems and devotional poems

representgenres? If yes, do epistles and elegies

written in thatgenre belong to different sub-genres? Is

the sonnetform a generic category? Is sonnet

sequence a genericcategory?

poetic genres narrative dramatic and lyric poetry55
Poetic GenresNarrative, Dramatic, and Lyric Poetry

3 Lyric poetry

Lyric poetry is more difficult to define. It is a genre of

poetry that, broadly and somewhat vaguely speaking,

expresses personal and emotional feelings.

In the prehistoric age lyric poems were sung, in the

antiquity they were sung to the lyre. This tradition,

though permanently declining, survived up the 18th

century. Now popular songs seem to replace this

function, therefore it is necessary to make distinction

between poem and lyrics.

most important genres of lyric poetry
Most important Genres of Lyric Poetry









Dramatic monologue, etc.

Ballads, though by definition classified as narrative

genre, are often referred to as lyric poem. Ballads are

in fact generally included in lyric anthologies.


In music, a composition for voice or voices, performed

by singing. A song may or may not be accompanied by

musical instruments (the latter case is called a

cappella). The text of a song is calledlyrics.

There are art song (16th and 17th century English

madrigals), folk songs (Over the Hills and Far Away),

popular songs (Hey Jude by Lennon McCartney).

robert burns 1759 1796
Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Burns worked for the final

ten years of his life on

projects to preserve

traditional Scottish songs

for the future. In all, Burns

had a hand in preserving

over 300 songs for

posterity, the most

famous being Auld Lang


My luve is like a red, red rose,

That's newly sprung in June :

My luve is like the melodie,

That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,

So deep in luve am I,                   

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

Till a' the seas gang dry.         

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi' the sun !

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only luve,\

And fare-thee-weel a while! ! ,.

And I will come again, my Juve, J

Tho' it were ten thousand mile.'

Robert Burns: My luve is like a red, red roseSource: Complete Songs of Robert Burns - online book

folk song
Folk Song

Here is a folksong from Yorkshire.

The traditional term for folk text is “traditional”.

Country Life

was recorded by the folk group Watersons

from the city of Hull.

(For Pence and Spicy Ale, 1975)

country life traditional
Country Life (Traditional)

I like to rise when the sun she rises,

Early in the morning

And I like to hear them small birds singing,

Merrily upon their layland

And hurrah for the life of a country boy,

And to ramble in the new mowed hay.

In spring we sow at the harvest mow

And that is how the seasons round they go

But of all the times choose I may

I'd be rambling through the new mowed hay.

country life cont
Country Life, cont.

I like to rise when the sun she rises,

Early in the morning

And I like to hear them small birds singing,

Merrily upon their layland

And hurrah for the life of a country boy,

And to ramble in the new mowed hay.

In winter when the sky is gray

We hedge and ditch our times away,

But in summer when the sun shines gay,

We go ramblin' through the new mowed hay.

I like to rise etc.


Yeats’s poem Down by the Salley Gardens was based

on a folk ballad Ye Rambling Boys of Pleasure. One

stanza of the folk ballad goes like this:

It was down by Sally's Garden one evening late I took my way.

'Twas there I spied this pretty little girl, and those words to me sure she did say

She advised me to take love easy, as the leavesgrew on the tree.

But I was young and foolish, with my darling could not agree.

w b yeats down by the salley gardens
W. B. YeatsDown by the Salley Gardens

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;

She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.

She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.

She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Performed by (Brandon Farley – Cotton Eyed Joe)

poem and song
Poem and Song

The term, in literary sense, usually denotes a poem and

its musical setting; a poem for singing orchanting. In

literature many poems, even if not set to music, may be

called songs.

Many poetsof theElizabethan and Jacobeanperiods

wrote fine songs as well as poems thatmight be set to

music. Yet we read them with noregard to the melody,

but refer to them as songs.

poem and song68
Poem and Song

Here is an example by John Donne. The title of poem is

simply Song.Thetitle indeed suggests that the poem

wascomposed for a tune which is the case, yet it is a

poemto be fully appreciated as a text on the page on

its ownright.

This may be one difference between poems and lyrics.

john donne 1572 1631 song
John Donne(1572-1631)Song

Go and catch a falling star,

Get with child a mandrake root,

Tell me where all past years are,

Or who cleft the devil's foot,

Teach me to hear mermaids singing,

Or to keep off envy's stinging,

And find

What wind

Serves to advance an honest mind.

donne cont
Donne, cont.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,

Things invisible to see,

Ride ten thousand days and nights,

Till age snow white hairs on thee,

Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,

All strange wonders that befell thee,

And swear,

No where

Lives a woman true and fair.

donne cont71
Donne, cont.

If thou find'st one, let me know,

Such a pilgrimage were sweet;

Yet do not, I would not go,

Though at next door we mightmeet,

Though she were true, when youmet her,

And last, till you write your letter,

Yet she

Will be

False, ere I come, to two, or three.

madrigal s ongs
Madrigal Songs

A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition,

usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early

Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are

unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two

to eight, and most frequently from three to six.

Madrigal poems are lyrics, usually displaying lesser

poetic complexity.

Thomas Weelkes’s madrigal is performed by the Alfred

Deller Consort

thomas weelkes c 1575 1623 to s horten w inter s sa dness
Thomas Weelkes (c. 1575-1623)To Shorten Winter’s Sadness

To shorten winter’s sadness,

See where the nymphs with gladness,


Disguised all are coming

Right wantonly a-mumming,


Though masks encloud their beauty

Yet give the eye her duty,


When heaven is dark it shineth

And unto love inclineth,



The following poem by Thomas Campion, titled Follow

thy fair sun is called an air. This is also a song, an air

for a solo voice and instrumental accompaniment. As

for the images and versification the text shows greater

poetic complexity.

thomas campion 1567 1620 follow thy fair sun
Thomas Campion (1567-1620)Follow thy fair sun

Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow.

Though thou be black as night,

And she made all of light,

Yet follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow.

Follow her whose light thy light depriveth.

Though here thou livest disgraced,

And she in heaven is placed,

Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth.

Follow those pure beams whose beauty burneth,

That so have scorched thee,

As thou still black must be,

Till her kind beams thy black to brightness turneth.

campion cont
Campion, cont.

Follow her, while yet her glory shineth.

There comes a luckless night,

That will dim all her light;

And this the black unhappy shade divineth.

Follow still, since so thy fates ordained.

The sun must have his shade,

Till both at once do fade,

The sun still proved, the shadow still disdained.


Here follow two examples for lyrics by Lennon

McCartney and Harrison, respectively.

The Lennon-McCartney composition shows great

thematic similarity to Thomas Campion’s air.

Harrison’s song seems to take up the theme of Thomas

Weelkes’s madrigal.

john lennon paul mccartney i ll follow the sun 1964
One day you'll look to see I've gone

For tomorrow may rain,

so I'll follow the sun

Some day you'll know I was the one

But tomorrow may rain,

so I'll follow the sun

And now the time has come

and, my love, I must go

And though I lose a friend

In the end you will know, oh

One day you'll find that I have gone

But tomorrow may rain,

so I'll follow the sun

But tomorrow may rain,

so I'll follow the sun

And now the time has come

and, my love, I must go

And though I lose a friend

In the end you will know, oh

One day you'll find that I have gone

But tomorrow may rain,

so I'll follow the sun

John Lennon / Paul McCartneyI'll Follow the Sun (1964)
george harrison here comes the sun 1969
Here comes the sun, do do do do

Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right

Little darling

It's been a long cold lonely winter

Little darling

It feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, do do do do

Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right

Little darling

The smiles returning to the faces

Little darling

I seems like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, do do do do

Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling

I feel that ice is slowly melting

Little darling

It seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun, do do do do

Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right

Here comes the sun, do do do do

Here comes the sun

It's all right

It's all right

George HarrisonHere Comes the Sun(1969)

An edition of the Beatles lyrics and the Faber & Faber collection of Paul McCartney poems and lyrics. Faber is the most prestigious publisher of poetry in Britain.

harrison cont
Harrison, cont.

Harrison’s lyrics is hardly articulate as a poem, which

is not to say it fails to work as a song.

Mark the functional equivalence between “fa la la” and

“do do do do”.

ode source cuddon
Ode(Source: Cuddon)

Ode (Greek 'song') is a lyric poem, usually of some

length. The main features are an elaborate stanza

structure, a marked formality and stateliness in tone

and style (which make it ceremonious), and lofty

sentimentsand thoughts. In short, an ode is rather a

grand poem; afull-dress poem.

However, this said, we can distinguish two basic kinds:

thepublic and the private. The public is used for

ceremonialoccasions, like funerals, birthdays, state

events; the private often celebrates rather intense,

personal, and subjective occasions; it is inclined to be

meditative, reflective.

ode cont
Ode cont.

Tennyson'sOde on the Death of the Dukeof

Wellingtonis an example of the former; Keats’s

Ode to aNightingale, an example of the latter.

ode cont84
Ode, cont.

The earliest odes were written by the ancient Greek

poets Sappho (c. around 6oo BC) and Alcaeus (c.

620 BC-6th century BC).

Another ancient Greek poet, Pindar (ca. 522–443 BC)

wrote his odes for public occasions, especially in

honour of victors in the Greek games. Modelled on

the choric songs of Greek drama, they consisted of

strophe, antistrophe and epode; a patterned stanza

movement intended for choral song and dance.

Horace’s (65 BC–8 BC) Latin odes were private and


sapphic ode
Sapphic Ode

Sapphic odes follow in regular stanzaic form, called

Sapphics, in quatrain stanza with a particular metrical

scheme. Since the metre is quantitative, very few

experiments exist in English. One is by Ezra Pound:

Golden rose the house, in the portal I saw

thee, a marvel, carven in subtle stuff, a

portent. Life died down in the lamp and flickered,

caught at the wonder.


horatian ode
Horatian Ode

Andrew Marvell’s An HoratianOde upon Cromwell's

Return from lreland (1650) is a good example of a

Horatian ode.It does not follow the quantitative

versification of Latin poetry.

The forward youth that would appear

Must now forsake his Muses dear,

Nor in the shadows sing

His numbers languishing.

horatian o de cont
Horatian Ode, cont.

'Tis time to leave the books in dust,

And oil the unused armour's rust,

Removing from the wall

The corslet of the hall.

So restless Cromwell could not cease

In the inglorious arts of peace,

But through adventurous war

Urged his active star.

pindaric ode
Pindaric Ode

Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) published his so-called

Pindaric odes or, more properly, pseudo-Pindaric odes

dispensing with the strophic arrangement. His stanzas

were free and varied; so are the lines and meters.

Thisflexibility had much influence on later writers,

including John Dryden. His Song for St Cecilia's Day

(1687) is such a pseudo-Pindaric ode.

(Musical illustration by Choir and Orchestra of the

King's Consort directed by Robert King)

John Dryden (1631-1700) St. Cecilia at the Organ Portrait by John Michael Wright Painting by Carlo Dolci
georg friedrich h ndel 1685 1759 portrait by balthasar denner
Georg Friedrich Händel (1685–1759)Portrait by Balthasar Denner

Ode for St. Cecilia's Day

(HWV 76) is a cantata

composed by Georg

Friderich Händel in 1739,

hissecond setting of the

poemby the English poet

JohnDryden. The title of

theoratorio refers to

SaintCecilia, the patron

saint ofmusicians.

john dryden song for st cecilia s day excerpt
John DrydenSong for St. Cecilia’s Day(excerpt)

From Harmony, from heavenly Harmony   

This universal frame began: 

When Nature underneath a heap   

Of jarring atoms lay  

And could not heave her head,

The tuneful voice was heard from high,    

‘Arise, ye more than dead!’

Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry

In order to their stations leap,   

And Music’s power obey.

pseudo pindaric ode
Pseudo-Pindaric Ode

Pseudo-Pindaric odes had a revival in the Romantic

period. Ode. Intimations of Immortality from

Recollections of Early Childhood by William

Wordsworth and its complementary poem,

Dejection: An Ode by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.


S. T. ColeridgeWilliam Wordsworth (1771-183.) (1770-1850)Portrait by Pieter van DykePortrait by William Shuter

william wordsworth immortality ode excerpt
William WordsworthImmortality Ode(Excerpt)


There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and every common sight

To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light,

The glory and the freshness of a dream.

It is not now as it hath been of yore;--

Turn wheresoe'er I may,

By night or day,

The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

immortality ode cont
Immortality Ode, cont.


The rainbow comes and goes,

And lovely is the rose;

The moon doth with delight

Look round her when the heavens are bare;

Waters on a starry night

Are beautiful and fair;

The sunshine is a glorious birth;

But yet I know, where'er I go,

That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

immortality ode cont97
Immortality Ode, cont.


Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,

And while the young lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound,

To me alone there came a thought of grief:

A timely utterance gave that thought relief,

And I again am strong.

The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep,--

No more shall grief of mine the season wrong:

I hear the echoes through the mountains throng.

immortality ode cont98
Immortality Ode, cont.

The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,

And all the earth is gay;

Land and sea

Give themselves up to jollity,

And with the heart of May

Doth every beast keep holiday;--

Thou child of joy,

Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy


rhapsody source cuddon
Rhapsody(source: Cuddon)

“Rhapsody means 'stitch song‘ in Greek. In ancient

Greece a rhapsodist was an itinerant minstrel who

recited epic poetry. Part came from memory: part was

improvised. A rhapsodist was thus a poet who

'stitched‘ together various elements.In a more general

sense a rhapsody may be aneffusive and emotional

(perhaps even ecstatic)utterance in verse.”

Pseudo-Pindaric odes are hardly distinguishable from

rhapsodies. This may one reason why the genre was

taken up be Romantic poets.

rhapsody a modern example t s eliot 1888 1965 rhapsody on a windy night
Rhapsody – a modern exampleT.S. Eliot (1888-1965) Rhapsody on a Windy Night

Twelve o'clock.

Along the reaches of the street

Held in a lunar synthesis,

Whispering lunar incantations

Dissolve the floors of memory

And all its clear relations,

Its divisions and precisions,

Every street lamp that I pass

Beats like a fatalistic drum,

And through the spaces of the dark

Midnight shakes the memory

As a madman shakes a dead geranium.


back to ode
Back to Ode

The odes of John Keats (all composed in 1819), Ode on

a Grecian Urn, Ode on Indolence, Ode on Melancholy,

Ode to a Nightingale, Ode to Psyche and To Autumn, or

Ode to the West Wind (also composed in 1819) by P. B.

Shelley are lyric odes in more general sense.


John Keats P. B. Shelley(1795-1821) (1792-1822)Portrait by William Hilton Portrait by Alfed Clint

epithalamion source cuddon
Epithalamion(Source: Cuddon)

Epithalamion(Greek ‘at the bridal chamber') is

originally a song or a poem sung outside the bride's

room on her wedding night. It celebrates the married


At the Renaissance poets revived it. Edmund

Spenser's Epithalamion is the most admired of its type

in the English language. It was written for his wedding

to his young bride, Elizabeth Boyle.

The tone of an epithalamion is often kin to the elevated

emotions expressed in an ode.

dramatic monologue source cuddon
Dramatic Monologue(Source: Cuddon)

Dramatic monologue or lyric soliloquy is a poem in

which there is one imaginary speaker addressing an

imaginary audience. In most dramatic monologues

some attempt is made to imitate natural speech.

In a successful exampleof the genre, the persona will

not be confused with the poet.

Andrew Marvell's (1621-1678) The Nymph Complaining

for the Death of her Faun is a metaphysical version of

a woman’s complaint.

dramatic monologue cont
Dramatic Monologue, cont.

In its most fully developed form, the dramatic

monologue is a Victorian genre, effectively created by

Alfred Tennyson (1819-1892) and Robert Browning

(1812-1889) yet the idea of a lyric in the voice of an

imagined persona seems to be very ancient.

It is the role of the persona, or the interlocutor, more

than anything else, that gives the Victorian

monologue its innovatory distinctiveness.

dramatic monologue cont107
Dramatic Monologue, cont.

The outstanding example of this device, as Robert

Browning uses it,is My Last Duchess, in which an

Italian Renaissance duke, addressingthe envoy of a

prospective father-in-law appears to confess to the

murder of the wifehe is hoping to replace.

Browning tended toclassify his monologues as

either dramatic lyrics or dramatic romances.The

distinction is not always very clear but he seems to

have meant,by the first,a rhymed lyric ascribed to

an imaginary persona, and bythe second, a narrative

dramatically related.

dramatic monologue cont108
Dramatic Monologue, cont.

The subsequent history of the genre, however,

emerges by way of the French Symbolist poets,

many of whom transform the dramatic monologue

into what the French writerValéry Larbaud (1881-1957)

was to call the interior monologue. These interior

reveries are the source for many important modernist

poems, such as T. S. Eliot's The LoveSong of J. Alfred


dramatic monologue cont109
Dramatic Monologue, cont.

Today the dramatic monologue is accepted as one

of the fundamental poetic genres. Most modern

dramatic monologues are indistinguishable from

interior monologues.

It is also common for poets to create personae distinct

from, and yet connected with, themselves; like Philip

Larkin (1922-1985) in Mr Bleaney and Dockery and Son.

A poet especially associated with the genre is Carol

Ann Duffy (1955) who has used the genre for ironically

and for gender-oriented purposes, lending her voice to

historically muted women such as Mrs Lazarus.

dramatic monologue
Dramatic Monologue

The crucial feature of a dramatic monologue is that the

poet employs a persona so distances himself/herself

from the statements in the text, offering a

multiplication of perspective, often ironic, and creates

the illusion of objectivity.

epistle source cuddon
Epistle(Source: Cuddon)

Epistle is verse-letter, a poem addressed to a friend or

patron. There are approximately two types:

  • onmoral and philosophical themes (e.g. John

Donne’s epistolary poems or verse letters on

religious subject),

(b) on romantic or sentimental themes (e.g. Alexander

Pope’s Epistle to Miss Blount, On Her Leaving the

Town, After the Coronation).

alexander pope 1688 1744 epistle to miss blount on her leaving the t own after the coronation
Alexander Pope(1688-1744)Epistle to Miss BlountOn Her Leaving the Town, After the Coronation

As some fond virgin, whom her mother’s care

Drags from the town to wholesome country air,

Just when she learns to roll a melting eye,

And hear a spark, yet think no danger nigh;

From the dear man unwillingly she must sever,

Yet takes one kiss before she parts for ever:

Thus from the world fair Zephalinda flew,

Saw others happy, and with sighs withdrew;

Not that their pleasures caused her discontent,

She sighed not that They stayed, but that She went.

pope cont
Pope, cont.

She went, to plain-work, and to purling brooks,

Old-fashioned halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks,

She went from Opera, park, assembly, play,

To morning walks, and prayers three hours a day;

To pass her time ‘twixt reading and Bohea,

To muse, and spill her solitary tea,

Or o’er cold coffee trifle with the spoon,

Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon;

Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire,

Hum half a tune, tell stories to the squire;

Up to her godly garret after seven,

There starve and pray, for that’s the way to heaven.

pope cont116
Pope, cont.

Some Squire, perhaps, you take a delight to rack;

Whose game is Whisk, whose treat a toast in sack,

Who visits with a gun, presents you birds,

Then gives a smacking buss, and cries – No words!

Or with his hound comes hollowing from the stable,

Makes love with nods, and knees beneath a table;

Whose laughs are hearty, tho’ his jests are coarse,

And loves you best of all things – but his horse.

pope cont117
Pope, cont.

In some fair evening, on your elbow laid,

Your dream of triumphs in the rural shade;

In pensive thought recall the fancied scene,

See Coronations rise on every green;

Before you pass th’ imaginary sights

Of Lords, and Earls, and Dukes, and gartered Knights;

While the spread fan o’ershades your closing eyes;

Then give one flirt, and all the vision flies.

Thus vanish scepters, coronets, and balls,

And leave you in lone woods, or empty walls.

pope cont118
Pope, cont.

So when your slave, at some dear, idle time,

(Not plagued with headaches, or the want of rhyme)

Stands in the streets, abstracted from the crew,

And while he seems to study, thinks of you:

Just when his fancy points your sprightly eyes,

Or sees the blush of soft Parthenia rise,

Gay pats my shoulder, and you vanish quite;

Streets, chairs, and coxcombs rush upon my sight;

Vexed to be still in town, I knit my brow,

Look sour, and hum a tune – as you may now.

elegy source cuddon
Elegy(Source: Cuddon)

In Classical literature an elegy (Greek 'lament') was

any poem composed of elegiac distichs (a hexameter

and a pentameter), also known as elegiacs, and the

subjects were various: death, war,love and similar

themes. The elegy wasalso used for epitaphs and

commemorative verses, and very oftenthere was a

mourning strain in them. However, it is only since

the 15thc. that an elegy has come to mean a poem of

mourning for an individual, or a lament for some tragic


elegy cont
Elegy, cont.

John Donne’s elegies follow the Classical convention

as they are poems on various subjects, including

amatory topics, in pentametrical pair lines

elegy cont121
Elegy, cont.

English literature is especially rich in elegiac poetry

which combines something of the ubi sunt(Latin

‘where are they’) motif with the qualities ofthe lyric and

which, at times, is closely akin to thelament and the

dirge. For instance, the Old Englishpoems The

Wanderer, The Seafarer; Oliver Goldsmith's The

Deserted Village, Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in

a Country Churchyard, John Keats's Ode to

Melancholy are such poems.

elegy cont122
Elegy, cont.

Many elegies have been songs of lament for

specific people. Well-known examples are Thomas

Carew's An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of

Paul’s, Dr. John Donne; P. B. Shelley’s Adonais

(commemorating the death of John Keats), W.

H. Auden's In Memory of W. B. Yeats.

w h auden in memory of w b yeats excerpt
W. H. AudenIn Memory of W. B. Yeats(excerpt)


He disappeared in the dead of winter:

The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,

The snow disfigured the public statues;

The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.

What instruments we have agree

The day of his death was a dark cold day.

w h auden in memory of w b yeats excerpt125
W. H. AudenIn Memory of W. B. Yeats(excerpt)


Earth, receive an honoured guest:

William Yeats is laid to rest.

Let the Irish vessel lie

Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark

All the dogs of Europe bark,

And the living nations wait,

Each sequestered in its hate.

(This can be regarded as an example of funeral elegy.)

pastoral elegy
Pastoral Elegy

The major elegies belong to a sub-species known as

pastoral elegy, the origins of which are to be found

in the pastoral laments of three Sicilian poets:

Theocritus (3rd c. BC), Moschus (2nd c. BC) and Bion

(2nd c. BC).

Theocritus called his poems idylls (Greek: eidyllion,

‘little picture’). An idyll is a short poem, descriptive of

rustic life, written in the style of Theocritus.


Later the Roman poet Virgil (70 BC–19 BC) imitated

Theocritus in poems he called eclogues (Latin


An eclogue is a pastoral poem in the form of a

dialogue or a soliloquy.

Edmund Spenser’s The Shepherd’s Calendar or Louis

MacNeice’s (1917-1963) An Eclogue for Christmas are

excellent examples of the eclogue.

pastoral elegies in english
Pastoral Elegies in English

They were the prototypes of such English pastoral

elegies as Milton's Lycidas and Shelley’s Adonais.

Edmund Spenser was one of the earliest English

poets to use for elegy what are known as the

pastoral conventions; in Astrophil he lamented the

death of his fellow poet Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586).


Pastoral is a mode of literature in which the

author employs imitates rural life, usually the

life of shepherds. Very often these shepherd lament

the loss of the Golden Age. Traditionally, pastoral

refers to the lives of herdsmen in a romanticized,

exaggerated, highly unrealistic, but representative way.


Pastoral as a mode occurs in all three kinds of

literature (poetry, drama, fiction) as well as genres

(most notably the pastoral elegy).

Pastoral may refer to any rural subject and aspects of

life in the countryside among shepherds, cowherds or

even farm workers that are often romanticized.

thomas gray
Thomas Gray

Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in Country Churchyard is

a pastoral completed in 1750 and first published in

1751. It was partly inspired by Gray’s thoughts

following the death of the poet Richard West in 1742.

The poem was completed when Gray was living near

the Stoke Poges churchyard. The poem, however, is

not addressed to the memory Richard West, but is a

meditation on the fate of man andgood and bad


thomas gray134
Thomas Gray

The first stanza of Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea

The plowman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

gray s elegy ends with the poet s epitaph
Gray’s Elegy ends with the poet’s Epitaph

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth

A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.

Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,

And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,

Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:

He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,

He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,

(There they alike in trembling hope repose)

The bosom of his Father and his God.

anti pastoral

When pastoral setting is used ironically, mockingly, or

pastoral setting is played out against the brutal reality

of rural life, we may talk about anti-pastoralism.

George Crabbe’s (1754-1832) poem The Village can be

interpreted as an anti-pastoral reply to Oliver

Goldsmith’s (1730-1774) sentimentalization of rural

life in his The Deserted Village.

Oliver Goldsmith George CrabbePortrait by Joshua ReynoldsEngraving by E. Findon fromthe portrait by Thomas Phillips
oliver goldsmith the deserted village excerpt
Oliver GoldsmithThe Deserted Village(excerpt)

SWEET Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,

Where health and plenty cheered the laboring swain,

Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,

And parting summer's lingering blooms delay'd:

Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,

Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,

How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green,

Where humble happiness endear'd each scene!

george crabbe the village excerpt
George CrabbeThe Village(excerpt)

The Village Life, and every care that reigns

O'er youthful peasants and declining swains;

What labour yields, and what, that labour past,

Age, in its hour of languor, finds at last;

What form the real picture of the poor,

Demand a song--the Muse can give no more.

Fled are those times, when, in harmonious strains,

The rustic poet praised his native plains:

No shepherds now, in smooth alternate verse,

Their country's beauty or their nymphs' rehearse.

anti pastoral140

A recent example of an

anti-pastoral poem is v.

(1985)by Tony Harrison

(1937). His poem is set in


vandalised by skinhead

football hooligans.He

even provides his bitterly

ironical epitaph at the end

of the poem.

the epitaph at the end of v
The epitaph at the end of v.

Harrison uses Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

asa hypertext, a source which he exploits. The epitaph

atthe end of v. alludes to Gray’s epitaph:

Beneath your feet's a poet, then a pit.

Poetry supporter, if you're here to find

How poems can grow from (beat you to it!) SHIT

find the beef, the beer, the bread, then look behind.

epitaph source cuddon
Epitaph(Source: Cuddon)

An epitaph (Greek 'writing on a tomb‘, inscription on

a grave) is a kind of valediction which may be solemn,

complimentary, witty oreven flippant.


This is the epitaph of Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) composed by himself in Latin and engraved in his tombstone in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin

swift s epitaph
Hic depositum est Corpus


Hujus Ecclesiæ Cathedralis


Ubi sæva Indignatio


Cor lacerare nequit,

Abi Viator

Et imitare, si poteris,

Strenuum pro virili

Libertatis Vindicatorem.

Obiit 19º Die Mensis Octobris

A.D. 1745 Anno Ætatis 78º.

The literal translation is:

Here is laid the Body of

JonathanSwift, Doctor of

Sacred Theology,Dean of this

Cathedral Church,where fierce

Indignation can nolonger

injure the Heart. Go forth,

Voyager, and copy, if you can,

this vigorous (to the best of his

ability) Champion of Liberty. He

died on the 19th Day of the

Monthof October, A.D. 1745, in

the 78thYear of his Age.

Swift’s Epitaph
this is a poetic translation from 1933 by william butler yeats
This is a poetic translation from 1933by William Butler Yeats

Swift’s Epitaph

SWIFT has sailed into his rest;

Savage indignation there

Cannot lacerate his breast.

Imitate him if you dare,

World-besotted traveller; he

Served human liberty.

yeats s epitaph is in part vi of his poem under ben bulben
Yeats’s epitaph is in Part VI of his poem Under Ben Bulben

Under bare Ben Bulben's head

In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid,

An ancestor was rector there

Long years ago, a church stands near,

By the road an ancient Cross.

No marble, no conventional phrase,

On limestone quarried near the spot

By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye

On life, on death.

Horseman, pass by!

epigram source cuddon
Epigram(Source: Cuddon)

An epitaph is usually very brief. It has an epigrammatic


An epigram (Greek ‘inscription’) is as a rule a short,

witty statement in verse or prose which may be

complimentary, satiric or aphoristic.Originally an

inscription on a monument or statue, the epigram

developed into a literary genre. The form was much

cultivated in the 17th c. in England by Ben Jonson,

John Donne, John Dryden, and in the 18th c. by

Alexander Pope, Matthew Prior, Robert Burns.


Here is an epigram by Matthew Prior (1664-1721)

Sir, I admit your general rule,

That every poet is a fool.

But you yourself may serve to show it,

Every fool is not a poet.

epigrammatic quality
Epigrammatic quality

Epigrams are individual poems. As a genre it is rather

rare, however, we can talk about the epigrammatic

quality or brevity or density of parts of works.

Alexander Pope’s couplets have more than often an

epigrammatic quality, as in these lines:

Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,

Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.

From Essay on Criticism