Interesting Facts About Poetry – Old and New #NationalPoetryMonth

Poetry inspires
Poetry as an art form predates literacy. The earliest poetry is believed to have been recited or sung, employed as a way of remembering oral history, genealogy, and law. Poetry is often closely related to musical traditions, and the earliest poetry exists in the form of hymns.

Historical facts about poetry:

Poetry appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures, with poetic fragments found on early monoliths, rune stones and stele. (a stone or wooden slab)

Scholars suggest that early writing shows clear traces of older oral traditions, including the use of repeated phrases as building blocks in larger poetic units.

The oldest surviving speculative fiction poem is the ‘Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor’ written in Hieratic and ascribed a date around 2500 B.C.E.

Greek epics lliad and Odyssey and the Indian Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are the oldest epic poems.

The development of literacy gave rise to more personal, shorter poems intended to be sung. These are called lyrics,which derives from the Greek lura or lyre, the instrument that was used to accompany the performance of Greek lyrics from about the seventh century BC onward.

The development of modern poetry is generally seen as having started at the beginning of the 20th century and extends into the 21st century.
(Source: Wikipedia)

What comes first – thought or title?

Another question, which has always haunted me is what comes first- the title or the content? I have never written with a title in my mind. The flow of thoughts has always been supreme in my mind.

Some of my poems remain untitled for many days and I have to struggle to decide the title.

Robbie agrees with me… “I let the words flow or fit themselves together first. Often the poem comes into my mind and almost unfolds by itself with little intervention. I think of a title afterwards.”

Wendy also agrees: “I never chose a title first. In my published poetry books there are no titles. The poems are sequentially numbered. Emily Dickinson is a poet who did not title a lot of her poetry. Her early editors titled a handful of her poetry.  In general, I am not certain what I am writing about until the poem starts brewing in me, and then I am looking for paper and a pen, which I usually have with me. I have many poems that were written on napkins, bar coasters, or whatever I could find if I did not have paper with me at the time.”

For Ritu, “It really depends on why I am writing a poem. If it is a response to a prompt the title may come to mind first. The topic is already there. If it is a time when words are pulsating and need to flow onto paper, then I will write my poem first and then title it after.”

Miriam lets the title be the first words. At times I just see the title and may be first line. I rarely search for a title.”

Radhika says: “thoughts flow in and my fingers pen them down. At times the flow is spontaneous like the gurgling brook. While at other times the thoughts ebb in a gentle flow. I enjoy flirting with different genres of poetry. With micro poetry like haiku and tanka, I take care to use words that create an impact within the limitation of syllables. Otherwise, my poems are simple and lucid, reflecting my musings, beliefs, emotions or the bewitching beauty of nature. After completing a poem, I try to bring out it’s essence in the title.”

Poetry writing is a natural gift, which can be nurtured and embellished. Poets are born!  Most of the poets find inspiration in nature and human nature.

Emotions reign supreme in most of the poetry, which slowly matures and becomes complex.

Poetry may or may not start with what we feel about us or others but it definitely takes us into a journey of self-realization. We have amongst us one such spiritual poet, Wendy E. Slater.

Today I am going to share her untitled poem:

Wendy E. Slater

I would never
Build a monument
In your name,
But I will plant
A forest in your honor
To seed the love and life
We share
Into all.

And it will be called
To us:
Our terrain,
The map of our geography—
Exquisite intimate landscapes sculpting

And to others
It will be something
Like the sacred forest
Where the genesis of the beloved
Will awaken
In them
When they walk the path.

There will be wildflower
That will have seeded
In our hearts,
And the warbler, hawk, and owl
Will come
To rest and live
In song, wisdom, and sight
As we will have
Lived our journey in grace.
©2016 Wendy E. Slater

Wendy E. Slater has three published books of modern mystical poetry, Into the Hearth, Poems-volume 14, Of the Flame, Poems-volume 15, and The Ocher of Abundance, Poems-volume 16, that are part of her poetry series, The Traduka Wisdom Poetry series. The poetry chronicles the inner journey of self-discovery and Divinity and opens doors for readers and invite them on their own spiritual journey of awakening and healing into self-forgiveness.  All the poetry can be found on her website: or Amazon. She can found on twitter @WendyE Slater.

 A reminder: I would be gifting two ebooks –  Sublime Shadows Of Life, my debut poetry book to those two readers who write the most poetic answer to all the posts I publish this month – #NationalPoetryMonth. Happy writing!

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

44 thoughts on “Interesting Facts About Poetry – Old and New #NationalPoetryMonth

  1. A masterful post paying homage to poetry through the ages, Balroop! Kudos to all of your guests for lending their insightful perspectives. Wendy Slater, your untitled poem is superlative.

  2. I was most interested to read the thoughts of many others poets are similar to mine with regards to titles. A lovely poem by Wendy. Thank you for sharing, Balroop.

  3. Beautiful post Balroop. I do love reading about the early roots of poetry. I always held forth that poetry needs to contain a musical element. The oral tradition I also find so enticing and give strength to what we are trying to do.
    This longing to share in words goes back as far as we know recorded history.
    Lovely poem Wendy, shall it remain untitled?
    I love the sentiments you take up in each stanza.

    1. I had read that most of the ballads were handed down to the next generation through singing, that could be the reason behind the lyrical quality of poetry, which changed with time. Modern poetry is much simpler and free from shackles.
      I am reading one of Wendy’s books that she has gifted to me and all her poetry is untitled but deeply meaningful. Thank you for your kind words Miriam, really appreciated.

  4. Balroop, a wonderful post about poetry and I enjoyed all the various elements. It was fascinating to learn a bit about the history of poetry and not surprising it is part of oral storytelling … I had no idea where the word lyrics came from, so interesting!

    I loved reading everyone’s take on the title…oddly enough when writing poetry the title is easy and often a starting point for me, whereas I will slave over the title for some of my short stories!

    Wow! Wendy’s poem at the end (timely untitled!) is sublime … I feel awash with light and peace!

    1. Welcome back dear Annika, I am glad you have liked this post. I had fun putting this together…isn’t it amazing that poetry was ingrained in human existence? Some experts feel that lullabies came naturally to mothers! If Wendy’s poem filled your heart with light and peace, it is very clear that you are a great poetry lover. Keep reading! Thank you for your beautiful reflections dear friend. Have a wonderful week.

  5. I think poetry is both creative process and also an outlet for the feelings and thoughts. So going after title may not work with most poets. I’m liking this series of yours

    1. Thank you for understanding the essence of poetry arv…if the emotions and thoughts get across, who cares about the title! Thank for liking the series 🙂 Have a wonderful week.

  6. I assumed poetry was old but never really thought about how old. I love it that some works thousands of years old have survived. I’m a poem first, title second gal too. Thanks for sharing Wendy’s beautiful poem. Great post, Balroop.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how much our thoughts match? While writing a poem, the thought is most important and if we let it flow, all the other elements fall in place. I have never cared for rhyming scheme because if I try, the thought gets diluted. Thank you dear Diana, for sharing your opinion.

      1. I too often prefer poems that flow more freely. Rhyming is hard to do without the words feeling forced into the pattern. When done well, though, rhyming can be wonderful. 🙂

      2. Sometimes some verses rhyme naturally but they become a pain as the poem proceeds…that is the time I thank those who introduced free verse to this genre and we also could call ourselves – poets! 🙂 🙂

  7. A poem is as old as the ages, even when it’s written today. A poem tells the tale of a soul, reaching for joy and goodness. A poem asks for the answers of life and death, of pain and glory. A poem shows the beauty of humans, even in the midst of ugliness and violence and squalor. Poetry is a testament to humanity, in every line. ❤

    1. Pam you are no less than a poet too! I love your definition of poetry. Have you written some poems? Please share! Thank you for such heart-warming insights.

      1. Well, you asked for poetic answers! 🙂 I don’t consider myself a poet. YOU are a poet. But yes, I like to dabble in poetry. It soothes the soul like nothing else. ❤

  8. Thanks for the historical notes on poetry, Balroop. Those are very interesting. I am also fascinated with song writing. I haven’t tried it but would love to sometime. I have one or two untitled poems in my collection as well but more often I tend to get a title popping into my mind. What a beautiful poem by Wendy. Thanks for sharing your passion for poetry and for sharing other works here, too.

    1. Song writing is indeed fascinating and is quite like poetry…it is natural to feel the urge! I am glad you have liked the poem I have shared, it may seem simple but is profoundly different. Thank you Lisa, for the appreciation.

  9. Wonderful post on the history of poetry, Balroop. Wendy’s poem was moving. I’ve never been stumped for titles, they seem to come easily to me once the story is written. 🙂

  10. Excellent post…. A great summary involving the origins of Poetry… And very interesting thoughts. I agree with you: Titles always come after the poem has been written… A good title is really important. A verse of the poem itself could work well. But choose wisely 😉 Love & best wishes, dear Balroop ❤ 🙂

    1. Thank you Aqui…your visits are always valued and I appreciate your view on how a title could be chosen after writing a poem. Love and hugs dear friend.

  11. It’s interesting that the earliest poetry was recited or sung as a way of remembering. This is something I’ve done throughout my life, especially when pad and pen weren’t handy. I’m usually inspired by a word or phrase, which often becomes the title; and from this, the poem or song springs forth. Thank you for sharing Wendy’s poem, Balroop. It felt like a prayer as I read it ❤

    1. Love your approach to poetry Tina… sometimes a word is evocative enough to let the thoughts flow. Drifting clouds affect me in that way. Thank you dear friend for sharing your love for poetry.

  12. Beautiful post telling of the origins of poetry, Balroop. Thank you for compiling to give us more insight into the roots of poetic phrases. As to titles, thoughts come first for me, floating around in my mind, then landing on paper of any sort so I don’t forget. Titles often come later, and sometimes, they take a while. I usually go with only one-word titles, although, I’ve deviated from this rule a few times. And I have a few poems that have been left untitled, as well. Wendy’s poem is also quite stunning. ❤

    1. Thank you Lauren, I kept the origin part short because too much of history of literature becomes heavy. I am glad you liked it. Wendy’s poetry is like that…some of her poems go above the head and you have to re-read them to fathom their depth!
      Many thanks for reading and sharing your perspective. 🙂

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