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The first lines of the Iliad
The first lines of the Iliad
Great Seal Script character for poetry, ancient China
Great Seal Script character for poetry, ancient China

Poetry (a term derived from the Greek word poiesis, "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre − to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, a prosaic ostensible meaning. A poem is a literary composition, written by a poet, using this principle.

Poetry has a long and varied history, evolving differentially across the globe. It dates back at least to prehistoric times with hunting poetry in Africa and to panegyric and elegiac court poetry of the empires of the Nile, Niger, and Volta River valleys. Some of the earliest written poetry in Africa occurs among the Pyramid Texts written during the 25th century BCE. The earliest surviving Western Asian epic poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh, was written in the Sumerian language.

Early poems in the Eurasian continent evolved from folk songs such as the Chinese Shijing as well as from religious hymns (the Sanskrit Rigveda, the Zoroastrian Gathas, the Hurrian songs, and the Hebrew Psalms); or from a need to retell oral epics, as with the Egyptian Story of Sinuhe, Indian epic poetry, and the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. (Full article...)

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Haiku by Matsuo Bashō reading "Quietly, quietly, / yellow mountain roses fall – / sound of the rapids"

Haiku (俳句, listen) is a type of short form poetry that originated in Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku consist of three phrases composed of 17 phonetic units (called on in Japanese, which are similar to syllables) in a 5, 7, 5 pattern; that include a kireji, or "cutting word"; and a kigo, or seasonal reference. Similar poems that do not adhere to these rules are generally classified as senryū.

Haiku originated as an opening part of a larger Japanese poem called renga. These haiku written as an opening stanza were known as hokku and over time they began to be written as stand-alone poems. Haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.

Originally from Japan, haiku today are written by authors worldwide. Haiku in English and haiku in other languages have different styles and traditions while still incorporating aspects of the traditional haiku form. Non-Japanese haiku vary widely on how closely they follow traditional elements. Additionally, a minority movement within modern Japanese haiku (現代俳句, gendai-haiku), supported by Ogiwara Seisensui and his disciples, has varied from the tradition of 17 on as well as taking nature as their subject. (Full article...)

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Charles Baudelaire
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Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644 – 1694), born error: error: ((nihongo)): Japanese or romaji text required (help): Japanese or romaji text required (help), then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa (松尾 忠右衛門 宗房), was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku (then called hokku). Matsuo Bashō's poetry is internationally renowned; and, in Japan, many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites. Although Bashō is justifiably famous in the West for his hokku, he himself believed his best work lay in leading and participating in renku. He is quoted as saying, “Many of my followers can write hokku as well as I can. Where I show who I really am is in linking haikai verses.”

Bashō was introduced to poetry young, and after integrating himself into the intellectual scene of Edo (modern Tokyo) he quickly became well known throughout Japan. He made a living as a teacher; but then renounced the social, urban life of the literary circles and was inclined to wander throughout the country, heading west, east, and far into the northern wilderness to gain inspiration for his writing. His poems were influenced by his firsthand experience of the world around him, often encapsulating the feeling of a scene in a few simple elements. (Full article...)

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Drinking Alone in the Moonlight by Li Bai

 A pot of wine among flowers.
I alone, drinking, without a companion.
I lift the cup and invite the bright moon.
My shadow opposite certainly makes us three.
But the moon cannot drink,
And my shadow follows the motions of my body in vain.
For the briefest time are the moon and my shadow my companions.
Oh, be joyful! One must make the most of Spring.
I sing--the moon walks forward rhythmically;
I dance, and my shadow shatters and becomes confused.
In my waking moments we are happily blended.
When I am drunk, we are divided from one another and scattered.
For a long time I shall be obligated to wander without intention.
But we will keep our appointment by the far-off Cloudy River.

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