Difference Between Epic and Lyric Poetry

Also Read

      Epic and Lyric Poems are two of the most common and well-known types of literature. The fundamental similarity between them is that both are poetic forms of literature. In literature, an epic is a long narrative poem, which is usually related to heroic deeds of a person of an unusual courage and unparalleled bravery. In order to depict this bravery and courage, the epic uses grand style. Many ancient writers used epic poetry to tell tales of intense adventures and heroic feats. Some of the most famous literary masterpieces in the world were written in the form of epic poetry. Epic poems were particularly common in the ancient world because they were ideal for expressing stories orally. Classical epic employs dactylic hexameter. Some of the most famous examples of epic poetry include the Ancient Greek poet Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, the ancient Indian Ramayana and Mahabharata, Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Portuguese Lusiads, John Milton’s Paradise Lost in English literature, etc. Epic poetry tries to tell a grand narrative and is closely related to oral storytelling. The Odyssey and The Iliad are two famous examples of epic poetry from ancient Greece.

      Though some poets still work with epic poetry, it’s not as popular as lyric poetry, which is one of the most common types of poetry today. Lyric poetry is interested in communicating a brief moment packed with significance through the use of intense, imagistic language. Lyric poetry is a comparatively short, non-narrative poem in which a single speaker presents a state of mind or an emotional state' Lyric poetry retains some of the elements of song which is said to be its origin. For Greek writers the lyric was a song accompanied by the lyre. Subcategories of the lyric are sonnet, ode, elegy and dramatic monologue and most occasional poetry.

      Epic and lyrical poetry differ in terms of length, purpose, characters and forms. Firstly, epic poems are usually quite long, much longer than lyric poems, which are short by definition. The most famous epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, both written by Homer, are as long as a contemporary novel. A lyric poem, meanwhile, is usually less than a page long, such as John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. Secondly, the purpose of an epic poem is to show us the exploits of a particular hero, or set of heroes. It usually involves important elements of history and can spread across several countries and periods of time or across different planes of existence (for example, The Divine Comedy by Dante takes place in heaven and hell). A lyric poem is usually focused on an individual emotion or experience. Thirdly, the epic poem is often written from a third-person perspective, with a writer describing the exploits of a hero at the center of the action. For example, Achilles is the hero at the center of The Iliad, and Odysseus is the hero of the epic poem The Odyssey. A lyric poem often is written from a first-person point of view, with an 'I' telling the reader about a personal experience or emotional response. Fourthly, epic poems come in several different forms, depending on the language in which they are written and the time period. The similarity, though, is that all epics are written in some poetic form, often including rhyming. Lyric poetry, though often in forms (such as the sonnet), may also be written in free verse with lines that do not rhyme.

Previous Post Next Post