Wise Poets, Wise Poets of the Past

Modern Prose Poetry Bends the Rules

Modern Prose Poetry Bends the Rules

Modern Prose Poetry Bends the Rules

There are definite difference between poetry and prose. Poetry is written in verse form and relies on picturesque speech, metaphor, imagery, can bend the rules of grammar, and has line breaks in verse form that define it as poetry. Prose on the other hand is always written with regular grammar and punctuation, does not necessarily rely on flowery speech, is written in paragraph form, and has no line breaks in order for it to be defined as prose.

However, there have been through history certain innovative poets who have thrown out the poetry rule book altogether, starting with Japan’s star haiku poet of the 17th Matsuo Basho, He artfully combine the elements of traditional haiku with prose to create a new form of poetry called haibun. This new form of of Japanese poetry also included biographical in formation about the poet himself when ancient poetry was historically written about the myths, heroes and epic stoies of the nation, as exemplified by the Greeks.

In more modern times prose poetry has become a combination of the two forms of writing, prose and poetry and became especially popular in France during the 18th century, as a reaction to all the strict rules of form that was historically employed by French poets. This gave Western poets a new sense of artistic freedom that endures in our free-verse poetry today. In the 19th century Irish Poet Oscar Wilde adopted this form of poetry, however, with the modernist movement cam dissent with such heavy weight poets as T,S, Eliot speaking against it; thus poetry in verse form became apropos again.

In America, Walt Whitman used this during the mid 19th century and is by and large considered to be the American Father of Free-Verse Poetry. And with the advent of the hippy movement of the 20th century prose poetry became popular again in the highly popular coffee houses of the time through the likes of Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsburg,

Today’s prose poetry still uses such literary devices as simile and metaphor, repetition, and loose rhyme and approximate rhyme schemes, they are always written in paragraph form and boast of no line breaks as in this example by prose poet, Amy Lowell.


  The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
  The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
  Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot, and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots.
  The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.

Next week we will explore the poetry of Oscar Wilde. Sign up for dailywisdomwords,com for poetry prompts, book reviews, and more great content like this.

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