Poetry Facts
Poetry Facts

31 Lyrical Poetry Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published September 27, 2019
  • The earliest forms of poetry predate written language. They were sung or recited to help people remember genealogy, laws, and oral history.[8]
  • The word "poetry" is from the Greek term poiesis, which means "making."[9]
  • Poetry is one of the oldest forms of communication, dating back to prehistoric times with hunting poetry in Africa and ancient Egypt.[17]
  • The oldest surviving epic poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh and dates from the 3rd millennium BC in Sumer (now Iraq). 
  • The longest poem in the world is the Mahabharata. An Indian epic poem dating from the 4th century BC or earlier, the poem has about 1.8 million words.[2]
  • Poet's Day is celebrated every August 21.[8]
  • John Milton Facts
    George Cudmore was executed for killing his wife, who was involved in a love triangle
  • The skin of murderer George Cudmore was used to bind an 1852 edition of John Milton's Poetical Works.[5]
  • The word "unfriend" first appeared in a 1275 medieval poem titled "Brut" by Layamon. Coincidentally, this is also the same poem in which the word "muggle" first appears.[16]
  • German poet Gottlob Burmann so despised the letter "r" that he avoided using it in his poems and suppressed it in his speech during the last 17 years of his life.[7]
  • Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to be recognized as an accomplished poet in the British American colonies. After she died, her husband collected her poems and published them as a book, making her the first woman to have a published book in America.[1]
  • Ben Jonson was named the first poet laureate of England in 1616. However, the title didn't become an official royal office until 1668 when John Dryden was appointed. A poet laureate is responsible for writing poems for national occasions.[8]
  • Existing fragments of Aristotle's Poetics described the three genres of poetry: the epic, the comic, and the tragic. It also laid out the rules for developing each genre to its full potential.[8]
  • Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.

    - Thomas Gray

  • French essayist and poet Sully Prudhomme (1839–1907)  was the first person to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.[17]
  • Geoffrey Chaucer's name is derived from the French chausseur, meaning "shoemaker."[11]
  • Known as the father of English literature, British author Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) is also considered the father of poetry and the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages.[11]
  • Geoffrey Chaucer was the first poet to be buried in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.[11]
  • Chaucer Fact
    Did you know that there is a crater on the far side of the moon named after Chaucer?

  • In 1998, an original printing of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales sold at auction for $7.4 million.[11]
  • The Victorian novelist Samuel Butler speculated that the ancient Greek poet Homer was a woman. Other scholars argue that the Iliad and the Odyssey were the work of many people.[15]
  • Nicknamed the female Homer, Sappho has become an symbol of homosexual love between women. Her poetry skill was widely known, and Plato even called her the "tenth Muse."[15]
  • famous poets
    Cummings is often regarded as one of the most important American poets of the 20th century
  • E. E. Cummings self-published his book of poetry "No Thanks," financed by his mother. In the book, he listed the 13 publishers who rejected his work, which would later become a classic.[13]
  • Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born in 1207, is the best-selling poet in the United States. A compelling figure in poetry, Rumi's poems articulate what it feels like to be alive.[3]
  • Poet George McDonald (1824–1905) wrote a two-word poem called "The Shortest and Sweetest of Songs." It reads "Come Home."[6]
  • According to author Lizzie Doten, the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe provided her with the poems that she published in "Poems from the Inner Life."[14]
  • Metrophobia is the fear of poetry.[10]
  • Metromania is the compulsion to write poetry.[10]
  • The epitaph on American poet Emily Dickinson's grave stone consists of two words: "called back."[8]
  • Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" is considered to be an iconic expression of the 1950s Beat Generation. Its frank portrayal of sex, suicide, and drugs was so scandalous that the publisher was imprisoned for distributing obscene material.[4]
  • Shortest Poem
    The poem is also a pun on “I am,” implying the formation of consciousness itself
  • The world's shortest poem is a one-letter poem by Aram Saroyan. It is simply a four-legged version of the letter "m." The meaning of the poem is uncertain, though some scholars describe it as a "closeup of a letter being born."[18]
  • William Shakespeare is the best-selling poet of all time. With over 4 billion book sales globally, his surviving works include approximately 40 plays, 150 sonnets, 2 long-story poems, and a few eulogies.[12]
  • With over 113 publications, Lee Bennett Hopkins (1938–) is considered to be the most prolific poet of the modern era.[12]
  • The oldest surviving love poem is on a 4,000-year-old clay tablet simply named "Istanbul #2461." The unknown poet wrote this poem for king Shu-Sin to recite to his bride during a virility ritual.[12]

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