AP Poetry Types

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Last updated: December 2, 2019

Metaphysical Poetry
Metaphysical poetry is a mostly 17th century English poetic mode that breaks with earlier Renaissance ideas about romantic poetry. Metaphysical poems often exhibit introspective mediations on love, death, God, and human frailty. Metaphysical poetry is famous for its difficulty and obscurity.

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Augustan Poetry is best known for its rhymed, heroic-couplet satire. These pairs of lines in iambic pentameter often produce great forward propulsion, and most students report that reading them aloud helps with comprehension. Coming between the baroque metaphysical poets and the enthusiastically sincere romantic poets, the wickedly funny Augustan poets went back to antiquity for their inspiration. They translated Greek and Roman epics into English using heroic couplets and wrote their own original work based on classical forms.

Romantic Poetry
Romantic poetry written in English is a mostly 19th century English and American poetic mode that breaks with earlier neoclassical ideas about poetry by specifically emphasizing that these poems were written in, as Wordsworth calls it, “the real language of men”, and were about “common life”. Often emotional and enthusiastic in its embracing of the large, impressive forces of nature and the infinite resources of the human imagination; strong thematic content.

Often considered the link between the schools of romanticism and modernism. Full of the yearning for transcendence, which they inherited from the romatic poets, the sybolists took this yearning in a more decadent and sensual direction, foreshadowing the kind of sexual frankness one often finds in modernists work. Many of their poems will seem obscure on the first few readings; deep symbols and intuitive associations found in their works.

Often characterized as a revolutionary force. 20th century literature saw a thorough questioning of what had to come before and a willingness to experiment with new forms, a goal shared with the symbolists but one with witch the modernists were much more daring.

Harlem Renaissance
Art associated with the Harlem renaissance was mostly created in the first half of the 20th century, after WWI, during the movement of African Americans to northern industrial cities. Harlem, New York was one of the most famous African American neighborhoods during this time. Jazz, poetry, painting, dance, electrified blues, and the study of the folklore strived; many of the same concerns as modernists.

The Beats
Post WWII phenomenon. Used different settings over the years to practice their brand of hallucinogenic, visionary, and anti-establishment art: New York, San Francisco, Tangiers, Praque, and Mexico City witnessed the Beats events.

Black Arts Movement
These poets were often associated with members of the Black Power Movement who grew frustrated with the pace of the changes enacted by the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. These poems are often politically charged, even aggressive, challenges to the white establishment.

Italian Sonnets
constructed of 1 octave stanza (8 Lines) and 1 sestet stanza (6 Lines). The two-part grouping organizes the poet’s thoughts.

The octave may introduce a problem and the sestet offer a solution of some kind whether is is positive or not. The rhyme scheme is for the octave abbaabba. The sestet can be one of several: cdecde, cdccde, or cdcdcd.

English Sonnets
are broken down into 3 quatrians (4 lines) and a couplet (2 lines). The first quatrain introduces the subject, the second quartrain elaborates, and then at the beginning of the 3rd quatrain, there’s a turn-the “however” or “but.”. The last 2 lines are a declaration of some sort of may offer some surprise.

Ryhme scheme is always abab/cdcd/efef/gg

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