All examples of poetry, throughout the history of the literary art form contain examples of poeticism. Any literary work, in fact, that has a quality of beauty, focuses on emotions, or is in some other way comparable to poetry may be described with the term “poeticism.”
When a writer uses purposefully aesthetic, lyrical, emotional, or stylistic language, they engage with poeticism. This does not necessarily mean that the writing is good, but it does mean that it contains something that should remind the reader of poetry.
Examples of Poeticism in Literature
“Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow” speech from Macbeth by William Shakespeare
This famous soliloquy from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a wonderful example of poeticism in drama. The lines appear in Act V, Scene 5 near the end of the play. Macbeth has found out that his wife, Lady Macbeth, is dead and that he is losing control. He discusses the long stretch of days he has before him and how he can possibly contend with the future. Here are the lines:
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Shakespeare’s use of phrases like “Creeps in this petty pace from day to day” and “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more” are clear and wonderful examples of poeticism in writing. He uses metaphors, imagery, alliteration, enjambment, and more within this short passage.
Explore William Shakespeare’s poetry.
This famous example of Whitman’s verse also provides readers with examples of poetic language and style—the key elements of poeticism. Whitman is well-known for pioneering the free verse style of writing. Or, poems that do not use rhyme or rhythm. This does not mean that the poem lacks in its poetic elements. Consider these lines:
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
The poet uses repetition, anaphora, metaphors, images, and more within these lines. The poem feels poetic without using a rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. He also engages with particularly poetic topics, such as the connection between the body and the soul.
Discover more Walt Whitman poems.
Darkness by Lord Byron
This haunting example of Byron’s verse contains many elements of poeticism. The piece serves as a warning against the growing inequality in Byron’s time and a prediction for what will happen to the planet if the human race does not change. This allows readers to enjoy the poetic structure, rhyme, rhythm, and language but also take in an important message about society and the future. Consider these lines:
I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
This piece proves that poeticism does not hinge solely on traditional poetic topics (like nature, love, and God). A poem can feel, sound, and be poetic while speaking on social issues.
Explore more Lord Byron poems.
The term “poeticism” is used to describe elements of poetry. Or, elements of any literary work that remind readers of poetry. This could be the use of a particular style of writing, syntax, images, and more.
Rhythm refers to the use of syllables and stresses within poetry. For example, the most popular metrical pattern within English-language poetry is iambic pentameter within these examples of verse, the poet structures their lines with a total of ten syllables each. These ten syllables can be separated into groups of two. The first beat and each group is unstressed, and the second is stressed.
The term “non-poetry” is used to describe anything that does not contain elements of poeticism or a traditional poetic structure. For example, some very experimental contemporary poems may be described as “non-poetry” in that they do not conform to readers’ traditional understanding of what a poem is.
The elements of poetry include (but are not limited to): rhyme, rhythm, poetic language, focus on intense emotional experiences, discussion of universal themes, stanza structure, and more.
Related Literary Terms
- Blank Verse: a kind of poetry that is written in unrhymed lines but with a regular metrical pattern.
- Broken Rhyme: an interesting type of rhyme that occurs when a poet cuts a word in half to create rhyme.
- Cadence: the natural rhythm of a piece of text, created through a writer’s selective arrangement of words, rhymes, and the creation of meter.
- Canto: a subsection of a long narrative or epic poem. It is made up of at least five lines but it is normally much longer.
- End Rhyme: a common type of rhyme found in poetry. They occur when the last word of two or more lines rhyme.
- Simile: a comparison between two unlike things that uses the words “like” or “as.”
- Imagery: refers to the elements of a poem that engage a reader’s senses. These are the important sights, sounds, feelings, and smells.