Classification of Lyrics Poetry

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      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.

      a) Sonnet was originally a love poem which dealt with the lover’s sufferings and hopes. It originated in Italy and became popular in England in the Renaissance period, when Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey translated and imitated the sonnets written by Petrarch. Sonnets are written in specific style and rhyme scheme of its own. William Shakespeare is the greatest sonneteers in English literature amongst others.

      b) Ode is a long lyric poem with a serious subject written in an elevated style. Famous examples of Ode are Wordsworth’s Hymn to Duty and Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn.

      c) Elegy Is a formal lament for the death of a particular person. More broadly defined, the term elegy is also used for solemn meditations, often on questions of death. Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and Tennyson’s In Memoriam are two perfect examples of elegy.

      d) In Dramatic Monologue a speaker, who is explicitly someone other than the author, makes a speech to a silent audience in a specific situation and at a critical moment. Without intending to do so, the speaker reveals aspects of his temperament and character. In Browning’s My Last Duchess for instance, the Duke shows the picture of his last wife to the emissary from his prospective new wife and reveals his excessive pride in his position and his jealous temperament.

      e) Occasional Poetry is written for a specific occasion: a wedding (then it is called an epithalamion, as is Spenser’s Epithalamion), the return of a king from exile (for instance Dryden’s Annus Mirabilis) or a death (for example Milton’s Lycidas), etc.

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