Do poets understand their own poetry

Poetry, poetry, poetry: definition & tips for analysis (+ 20 examples)

Poetry, poetry and poetry are short texts in verse form. They often rhyme and work with subjectivity and linguistic images. We will help you with a definition of poetry, the most important features, the analysis structure as well as corresponding tips and many examples.

Poetry is a multi-faceted genre with several subgenres and formal and content-related peculiarities in the analysis. We have important characteristics and Interesting facts about the foot of verse, meter, rhyme scheme and the lyrical self. You will also find a list of well-known examples that can help you practice for homework and exams.

Poetry: A Definition

The definition of lyric

The lyric is one of the three main genres of literature. In addition to poetry, there are epics (narrative literature) and drama (texts with assigned roles). The main distinguishing feature of poetry from the other two genres is its verse form. The lyric works include poems. The poems include odes, sonnets and ballads.

The term “lyric” is derived from the Greek term “lyra”. Any poetry that was accompanied by the playing of the lyre instrument fell under the concept of lyric poetry. Today is the Division into verses and stanzas essential. Rhymes and rhythm often appear in lyric works like poems, but are not an inevitable part of the lyric. This is shown, for example, by the lyrical genres of nonsense poetry or rap, where everything doesn't always have to rhyme.

Lyric, Poetry, Poetry: Differences and Features

“Lyric” as a characteristic term for lyrical poetry has only been used since the 18th century. They have also often been found since the 19th century Synonyms poetry, poem or poetry. Everything that was written was previously considered a “poem” or “poetry”. Today these two terms only refer to poetic texts.

Poetry used to be the generic term for the literary genres epic, lyric and drama. Today the terms “poetry” or “poetic” denote a qualitative effect. There are, for example, poetic films, pictures or poems, but also moments that seem like poetry to the eyes, or music that can be like poetry to the ears. As poetics becomes more specific that Poetry teaching designated. The following list tells you the five essential characteristics of poetry.

  1. Lyrical texts mostly convey feelings or subjective impressions of a lyrical self.
  2. They are very short compared to other forms of literature.
  3. They have the character of a song and can also be sung.
  4. Poetry consists of stanzas and verses.
  5. Many lyric works rhyme and follow a specific rhyme scheme. But rhymes are not a basic requirement for poetry.

Subgenres of poetry

Subgenres of poetry: Here lyrics

In this chapter you will find some subgenres of the genre “poetry”. They are either thematically or stylistically determined. A lyric work can also belong to several genres. For example, children's poetry and nature poetry can overlap, or political poetry and casual poetry.

In addition to the subgenres, there are also lyrical genres that relate to the form and length of the work. These include, for example, the haiku, the elegy, the ballad, the ode, the hymn or the sonnet.

  • Confessional Poetry:
    Confessional poetry includes poetic works that deal with intimate details by the author; for example sexual experiences or mental illness.
  • Thing poem:
    Thing poems tell from a living or inanimate object. Art objects, situations or processes appear as the mostly implicit lyrical self. The descriptions are not subjectified, although there is a claim that the thing speaks about itself.
  • Children's poetry:
    Children's poetry includes all lyric works written for children and by children (children's songs, nursery rhymes and children's poems).
  • Nature poetry:
    In nature poetry, nature is the central subject of poetry.
  • Political Poetry:
    These lyrical works deal with political disputes from a particular partisan position and are aimed at the public.
  • Nonsense poetry:
    Nonsense poetry has no other recognizable meaning than the fun of play, poetry, jokes or nonsense itself.
  • Opportunity seal:
    Occasional poetry is written for a special occasion, such as an anniversary, birthday, or the day of death.
  • Lyrics (lyrics):
    A song text or lyrics is the linguistic part of a piece of music. It can be viewed together with the composition or separately from it. Rap lyrics also fall under this genre.
  • Spoken Word:
    In the performing arts, the spoken word is a lyrical work or a narrative that is performed in front of an audience. Often these performances are also accompanied by music.

Structure of the lyric analysis

Structure of the lyric analysis

Like analyzes of novels, analyzes of novels, factual text analyzes, analyzes of fables or analyzes of legends, the analysis of poetry also consists of good preparation, an introduction, a main part and a conclusion. Under each point you will find an explanation of what to do. The structure is quite general so that it applies to all lyric works. Here you can find a detailed analysis of poems using Christian Morgenstern's “Maids on Saturday” as an example.


Since lyrical works are usually short and you will mainly encounter poems during analysis, you should read the text read several times. Mark that Rhyme scheme (You can find out more about this in the tips on analysis) and also highlight important ones Motives or rhetorical devicescolored. Try to mentally identify the meaning and main subject of the poem so that you can use a summary sentence in your introduction.


The most important key data of the work always belong in the introduction. This includes Text type, title, author as well as year and place of publication. In addition, you can use the Briefly summarize the content. If you like the epoch is known and it is of high relevance for the analysis, it can also be mentioned in the opening sentence. The introduction should never be longer than two sentences. Here's an example:

The ballad “Der Erlkönig” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe from 1782 is about a father who rides through a dark forest with his terminally ill boy.


The main part of your analysis can be one or more, depending on the scope Theses or questions consequences. For example, you could analyze a specific motif of a poem, sketch the lyrical self, examine biographical parallels to the author or simply interpret the entire poem with all its facets. In school there is usually a clear task with regard to which aspect you should analyze the text at hand.

In the main part of a poem, this must never be Rhyme scheme or that Meter (meter / rhythm) absence. For more information, see our tips on analysis. You can also use the shape of the text, his structure, his language, stylistic means and linguistic images (metaphors) use for argumentation.

If you Examples you should always have it with one Text document Mistake. Put the verse in brackets and quote either directly (verbatim quote) or indirectly (paraphrase). You can find out how to quote scientifically here. Use this procedure to confirm your thesis or answer your question and then move on to the end.


Finally, you can do yours Results again briefly sum up. If you have not yet mentioned the epoch in the analysis, you can finally reflect on the text here in the epoch-making context. To what extent is the epoch reflected in the lyrical work? What is the author's intention?

If necessary, refer the content to its current relevance and find a successful final sentence. You should only give your own opinion on the work if your teacher or lecturer has expressly stated it.

5 tips for lyric analysis

Tips on lyric analysis

At school, you will likely come across all kinds of poems or lyrics that need to be analyzed. Mostly you will find a “lyrical me” there, a certain rhyme scheme and many rhetorical means. We have a few tips for you to ensure that the analysis works perfectly.

Lyric I: interpret the speaker of the work

The lyric self is a kind Mediator between author and reader. It portrays Emotions and subjective perception, but is not to be equated with the author of the work. In rare cases it can be concluded that the author and the lyrical ego coincide, but mostly it is only a speaker who is supposed to bring the content closer to the reader.

There is an explicit and an implicit lyric self. The explicit lyric self describes itself as “I”. It stands for a single person and describes something that has been experienced. The implicit lyrical ego, on the other hand, does not name itself. It can stand for one or more people and only take on a more precise shape through interpretation.

Note the rhyme scheme and meter

The rhyme scheme and meter should not be missing from a poem. Even if they are not for interpretation, it is essential to mention them. Sometimes they also coincide with the poetry of a particular era. If there is no strict meter, the rhythm can be interpreted as 'chaotic', 'stumbling' or 'deconstructing'. Work out all of the circumstances of the text in such a way that they support your reasoning.

Rhyme scheme

The Relationship between verse endings is called the "rhyme scheme". It indicates which verses rhyme with each other within a lyrical work. These rhymes are then indicated by letters. If you have a particular rhyme scheme, make sure to include it in your analysis. Below are the most common rhyme schemes.

Couple rhyme (AABB)

I saw from outside out
lying in front of mine House
a big cat’,
and sat on her sparrow.

Cross rhyme (ABAB)

I saw from outside out
a big Cat'
lying in front of mine House
and sat on her sparrow.

Hugging Rhyme (ABBA)

I saw from outside out
a big Cat'
and sat on her sparrow
lying in front of mine House.

Pile rhyme (AAAA)

I saw from outside out
a cat in front of mine House
she chased one mouse,
hoped for ‘nen Feast for the palate.

Entangled rhyme (ABCABC)

I saw from outside out
from further distance
next to my door
a cat in front of mine House.
It was lying there with pleasure
I immediately got a feel for that.


Meter and meter should not be missing from your analysis either. They can be determined by female and male cadences (verse endings). Female cadences end on an unstressed syllable, male on a stressed syllable. You can determine the syllable stress by reading the poem out loud.

For frequently used Verse feet there are the names: iambus, trochaeus, dactylus and anapaest. You are the smallest unit of rhyme. As you go through a verse, stanza, or even the whole poem, you determine the meter. So can a Meter for example iambic or dactylic be. Here's how to recognize cadences and meters. We use a capital “X” for stressed syllables and a lowercase “x” for unstressed syllables.

Iambus (as verse ending male cadence):
x-X (for example: Verwas standing)

trochee (as verse ending feminine cadence):
X-x (for example: early-ling)

X-x-x (for example: Oh-ter-ban)

x-x-X (Har-mo-never)

Write reader-friendly

Write reader-friendly

Your analysis should always be written in a listener-friendly or reader-friendly manner. Whether you want to read them out in class or your teacher corrects them in an exam, everyone should be able to understand what you want to say. If you read the analysis out loud, can so everyone understand what you mean and give positive feedback. If a teacher corrects your analysis, you won't get any deductions for inconsistencies.

In addition, it is nicer for you when a pleasant one Reading fluency and you don't have to read out nested sentences over several lines. Here you can learn to improve your writing style. This is especially useful later when you want to study. In term papers, essays, table of contents or presentations, you can always benefit from an easily understandable writing style.

Argue with rhetorical means and motives

Hardly any other genus has so many rhetorical medium on like the lyric. Whether enjambement, anaphor, parallelism, metaphor or rhetorical question - they can all be wonderfully interpreted for your analysis. They can support and substantiate your reasoning. Always keep your thesis in mind and look for good examples in the text.

For example, if the author uses the alliteration "mustnter Murmeltiere ”, he wants to emphasize or even represent a movement on a formal level. The "must”Could seem like the lively hopping movement of the marmots. Don't be afraid to argue far-fetched, as long as you can find evidence of it in the text. Also necessarily interpret recurring motifs and hit theirs symbolism in a literary dictionary.

Include the epoch

If you can assign the epoch of the lyric work, it also gives you a good opportunity for interpretation. How can the present work be interpreted against the background of the epoch? To what extent could the economic, political or social situation influenced the author? Does he criticize or refer to grievances or does he endorse the contemporary situation?

In school, poems are mostly used that can be classified quite precisely. So use the epoch to arrive at a conclusive thesis and to keep a central theme in your analysis.

List: 20 examples of well-known lyric works

Well-known poets: Goethe and Schiller

Below are some of the most famous lyric works. You will encounter them at school, university or even in everyday life, because they are often literarily adapted or parodied. Use them to become more proficient in analysis or just acquire a little general literary knowledge.

The more poems you read, the more practiced you become in recognizing a rhyme scheme, classifying a poem in its respective epoch or interpreting rhetorical means. Here you can find more poems (love poems and Christmas poems) and here tips on how to learn better.

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
    Erlkönig (Ballad, 1782)
    The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Ballad, 1797)
    Prometheus (ode / hymn, written 1772–1774)
    Roman elegies (written 1788–1790)
  • Friedrich Schiller:
    To Joy (1786)
    The division of the earth (ballad in collaboration with Goethe, 1795)
    The Song of the Bell (1799)
  • Friedrich Hölderlin:
    Bread and Wine (Elegy, written around 1800)
    Half of life (1804)
  • Joseph von Eichendorff:
    The broken ring or infidelity (1813)
    Longing (1834)
    Dowsing rod (1835)
  • Edgar Allan Poe:
    The Raven (narrative poem, 1845)
    Eldorado (ballad, 1849)
  • Rainer Maria Rilke:
    The Panther (thing poem, written 1902–1903)
    Autumn day (symbolist poem, 1902)
  • Berthold Brecht:
    Memory of Marie A. (1920)
  • Hermann Hesse:
    Stages (philosophical poem, 1941)
  • Gottfried Benn:
    Just Two Things (1953)
  • Ernst Jandl:
    schtzngrmm (speech poem, 1957)
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