No definition of poetry can be comprehensive. Poetry is that kind of literature in which imagination, emotion, and fancy predominate. It may be generally in verse form. Metre, rhythm, rhyme, and measure are the attributes of poetry though all of them need not be present in every poem. Dr.Jonson calls poetry a ‘metrical composition’ and points out four elements of poetry- pleasure, truth, imagination, and reason. It is defined by another critic as the art of employing words to produce an illusion on the imagination. For Carlyle poetry was ‘musical thought’ and Shelley defined it as ‘The expression of imagination’.   Coleridge thought poetry was the antithesis of science and Wordsworth defined it as ‘the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge’. According to Arnold poetry is ‘simply the most delightful and perfect form of utterance that human words can reach’. Edgar Allen Poe calls it ‘the rhythmic creation of beauty. T.S. Eliot calls poetry ‘the vehicle of feeling’ and insists that ‘poetry has to give pleasure’. All these definitions refer to the main elements of poetry- imagination, emotion, feeling, truth. Only when these qualities are embodied in a proper form of expression is poetry. The form is regularly rhythmic language or meter, so versification is a part of poetry.

   Another aspect of poetry is that it is an interpretation of life. By the exercise of imagination, transfigures the existing reality and gives to airy nothings a local habitation and a name. Critics like Coleridge and Leigh Hunt thought that meter is not an essential element in poetry. Even prose can be a good medium if poetry can be conveyed through it. However, rhythm has significance in poetry because it gives musical and aesthetic pleasure which are among the chief functions of poetry. Science provides us with a complete rationale of things in the universe, but it is poetry that can suggest to us its beauty and mystery. This poetry is at once antithesis and complement of science. Arnold held that poetry has the power to awaken in us a wonderfully intense and complete sense of things in the universe that science cannot do. Another element is the revealing power of poetry. It opens our eyes to the beauties and spiritual meanings of the universe and nature to which, otherwise, we remain blind. It educates us to look at life for ourselves with more insight. Thus poetry is an interpretation of life through imagination and feeling.


Subjective poetry or Personal poetry is the poetry of self- delineation and self-expression. In this kind of poetry, we find most, the poet’s feelings and thoughts given expression in a lyrical manner. The poet is moved by his own experience as Wordsworth in ‘The Solitary Reaper’. The essence of the subjective poetry is the personality of the poet.


Objective poetry is poetry that expresses the world outside the poet. In this kind of poetry, the poet goes out of himself, mingles with the action and passion of the world, and expresses what he observed there. This is an older type of poetry than subjective poetry. Subjectivism came only later. The communal ballad, the epic, and the drama were the earliest form of objective poetry. In this poetry, the experiences of the eye and the ear are given more importance than those of the mind and the soul.

Published by Ayisha Shabana….