Different Forms of Poetry

Poetry for Middle Schoolers - Epic and Lyric Poetry

Epic and Lyric Poetry

Welcome to this video lesson on epic and lyric poetry. Both epic and lyric poetry are important to literature and our culture. “But what’s the difference?” you ask. Well, let’s take a look.

An epic poem is usually a lengthy, narrative poem that tells a story about a series of events or heroic deeds important to a specific group or culture. In an epic, the hero tends to go on a journey or a quest. When the hero returns home, he has changed significantly. Most often, the hero’s trials are related to morals that are important to this specific culture. Now, let’s take a look at lyric poetry.

Lyric poetry often expresses the feelings and emotions of the author. This type of poetry is almost always emotional. The author will use sensory language to influence the audience’s emotions. Originally, lyric poetry was written to be sung along with a musical instrument. It is now a type of poetry that doesn’t have to rhyme or even be set to music. Let’s read some examples of both lyric and epic poetry, shall we?

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; and every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d; But thy eternal summer shall not fade-” *lost signal static*

“Of these two rocks, the one reaches heaven and its peak is lost and dark cloud. This never leaves it, so that the top is never clear, not even in summer and early autumn. No man, though he hath twenty hands and twenty feet, could get a foothold on it and climb it, for it runs sheer up, as smooth as though it had been polished. In the middle of it, there is a large cavern, looking West and turned toward Erebus; you must take your ship this way, but the cave is so high up that not even the stoutest archer could send an arrow into it. Inside it, Scylla sits and yelps with a voice that you might take to be that of a young hound, but in truth she is a dreadful monster and no one – not even a god – could face her without being terror-struck. She has twelve misshapen feet and six necks of the most prodigious length; and at the end of each neck she has a frightful head with three rows of teeth in each.”

Let’s break down the similarities differences between epic and lyric poetry one last time: Lyric poetry is usually shorter (less than a page, or so), while epic poetry usually consists of many, many chapters. The purpose of lyric poetry, usually, is to express the feelings of the author, whereas epic poetry focuses on the growth of a hero as he or she overcomes trials. The characters of both epic and lyric poetry are also different.

An author of lyric poetry usually speaks from the first person. In epic poetry, we follow a hero and the author writes a story in the omniscient third person. I hope that helps. Thanks for watching this video lesson, and until next time: Happy Studying!



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: August 14, 2019