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Poetry or poetry describes, on the one hand, an artistic creative process that, depending on the definition, is limited to the poetic genre of lyric poetry or also includes other art forms such as music and painting, and on the other hand, the result of this process.

Poetry and poetry

Unlike the well-known also in other languages concept of poetry is poetry in a specifically German word formation, accompanied by a slight shift of the visual point: poetry, the poetics theory, the area of poetic genres. The word poetry also denotes the literary product and the production process to which it owes itself, the poetry (from mhd. Ti [c] hten for 'create, think, think out, arrange', from Latin dictare 'dictate, set up, write '; In contrast, the vulgar etymological derivation of dense , which evokes the idea of ​​a condensation of the statement , is widespread and not without effect on the development of meaning ). Poetry is related both in the broader sense to literature with artistic claims in general, the so-called beautiful literature , and in the narrower sense to texts structured in verse , in so-called bound language , including, in contrast to prosaic fiction, metrical , rhythmic, in free verse or free verse of Modern poetry drafted, strophige and catastrophe loose ge rhymed count and not rhyming texts alike. Both uses of the term poetry emphasize artificiality, the invention of the poetic if not the fictional. Difficult lyric translations are also often referred to as adaptations. In a figurative sense is also in the music of symphonic poem spoken or tone poem. Unlike poetry, poetry does not describe the particular poetic mood or poetic expression of a work of art or a situation in nature .

Concept history

The fictional - they had in poetry criticism Plato played a crucial role, but was replaced in poetry debate over formal criteria for a long time in the background - moved in the debate over the seal in the 18th century to the center. At the same time, the term in the German discussion allowed an increased reflection on the poet as the one who creates a higher world, the world of his poetry in relation to reality. For more information, see the article on poetry .

In the 19th century - when literature was redefined as the area of ​​linguistic traditions - the word in German became the term for the production that dealt with literature in the “narrower sense”. In the 20th century it became less important than a more neutral language of literature . According to the widespread perception, “poets” were authors who produce “true and great art ” - a quality statement was associated with this that was no longer necessarily sought in the exchange of literature. The word fell with National Socialism, which was based on ideas of the 19th century and demanded the role of the seer and spiritual leader of the people from the poet, in a discredit that literary studies of the 1950s and 1960s only half-heartedly called for a return to the enduring values ​​and thus a new discourse on poetry. The speaking of poetry lost its importance with the currents of literary studies that emerged in the 1960s from structuralism to literary sociology.

Usage today

Today, poetry is primarily used to describe works set in verse, especially from the Middle Ages (" Spielmannsdichtung " and comparable generic formations carry on the term) and the German epochs from Sturm und Drang to Vormärz - here the term seems to have an advantage over the term poetry, with the far rather a traditional arc from antiquity and Aristotle to the 18th century and the time of Gottsched is stretched - an arc that hardly allowed medieval poetry to be valued, and an arc from which the German "poets" of the late 18th and 19th centuries early 19th century distanced.


  • It says, "Poetry arises from the already calm memory of an emotional experience." ( William Somerset Maugham : "Julia, you are magical. A novel." Translator of the original "Theater": Renate Seiller (1937), Verlag Volk und Welt, Berlin 1983, p. 318 below)


  • Irene Behrens: The doctrine of the classification of poetry, primarily from the 16th to the 19th century. Halle an der Saale 1940.
  • Robert Hartl: Attempt of a psychological foundation of the types of poetry. Vienna 1924.
  • E. Gürlich: The importance of technology for the development of the types of seal. A contribution to a sociology of literature. Vienna 1951–1952 (= Technological Trade Museum program ).

Web links

Wikiquote: Poetry  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Poetry  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. See for example Gilbert Murray : The Classical Tradition in Poetry. Oxford 1927.