If we say ‘No’ to this question then we’ve probably failed to consider the origination of poetry—how it was discovered reportedly alongside works that are simulacra of songs (or even real songs as some sources posit).
One thing that is probable as a corollary is that poetry writing is another way the ancients deemed fit to put musical compositions. Except that historical sources recorded that singing as an art started much later:
Poetry predates singing—starting sometime in the 7th century many years before singing started in perhaps the 14th century.
It will be illogical, however, to jump into accepting our conclusions dogmatically without seeing the logic in the argument of people who think that songs are not to be considered poetry, so let’s do that now.
People who think that songs (or some songs) should not be considered as poetry are generally of the opinion that not every song possess literary merit or employ poetic techniques. They think that only sophisticated songs like Bob Dylan’s and songs that are rich in the elements of poetry are qualified to be poetic. And that makes sense. Except that it is specious, too.
I do not suppose it should be a great deal of a task to figure out whether songs are considered literature since, by definition, poetry is a large concept that embraces several forms of artwork including epitaph and lyricism.
If you ask me, I’d say there are innumerable befitting definitions for poetry (such as “a poet’s literary production), but the one I like to say is: any concise expression of self in line, verses, and/or stanzas.
This may be my definition but it has helped my students differentiate easily between poetry and other genres of literature; they basically look out for verses and stanzas. But there is prose-poetry as well, you may want to say. Then look out for brevity. I’m convinced that a poem cannot be one without at least one of the features highlighted in that austere definition.
Due in part to this clarity, I now fear that with a question like this, we may as well begin to ask if National Anthems are a form of poetry or—where I will cut some questioners short to say, ‘or what?’—not.
Mistakes like this shall remain unavoidable so long as we allow bots (Artifical machines) think for us. What do I mean? I have noticed that many of the answers people write on forums like Quora nowadays are not completely human. More so, the image below shall bolster the point I’m trying to make.
The AI bot installed on Quora wrote that. It opines that some songs are poetic while others are not. Funnily enough, some humans said the same thing answering this question and I’ve requested examples of songs that do not fit into the genre of poetry from a few of those who answered— including the writer who gave several examples of classical songs that properly fit to be called poetry.
Aside from this, may I also ask, considering the response of the bot, if without rhythm and ‘imagery to evoke emotions’ a literary work divided into lines and stanzas is automatically not a poem.
It is a fact that songs are to be considered as poetry. More like it, such types of poetry as lyric, ballad, lullaby, elegy, and ode, among others give room for written words to be sung. And if the song wasn’t written before it was sung? It is the more reason it fits to be poetry. Remember that poetry largely started in oral form.
In the following subheading, we shall profer an explanation that differs from those of Quora and other platform’s AI bots. This is deemed to largely help you understand the concept of poetry better.
Types of Poetry that can be sung
Now that you know that poetry is traditionally written in lines and verses/stanzas, let’s see some poem types that can sing.
Ode is a classical poem— originally meant to be sung (Oxford Languages). Ode often conveys deep feelings and remarks on laudable acts of people as well as inanimate objects; they are devoted to praising. Ode poems are technically “Proper to be set to music” as Wiktionary underscores.
Similarly, Ode is a synonym for lyric—to which you should be more familiar.
The origin of this poetry shows that it is originally meant to be danced to. It came from the French word chanson balladee meaning: dance songs.
For what it may be worth, most scholars have agreed that ballad poems are poems with musical elements or rhythm, yet they are usually narrative.
The folk songs peculiar to your people, think about them, will make good examples of Ballad.
This type of poetry may also be referred to as “songs of mourning” or “funeral song/poem”, even though they’re not usually performed at funerals.
Elegies are poems with a serious mood and tones used in lamenting especially over the dead. Yes, we do not expect to see you happy or wear a smile when you listen to people elegize.
Read Also: What is music as literature?
More peculiar to the African culture, lullaby as a form of poetry are songs sung to put children to sleep. Admittedly, they are not always meant to put children asleep, sometimes lullabies simply soothe children so that they stop crying or demonstrate similar effects.
Having considered elegy, we should have no course to spend luxury of time on dirge; dirge is equal to elegy, and vice versa. But sorry the word equal there should be seen figuratively and not mathematically because of course they have an inconspicuous and innocuous dissimilarity.
Dirges are usually shorter than elegy and they are composed to be performed at funeral services, while works of elegy may be euthanized in the shelves of poets; they’re usually not written to be performed.
As is its relationship with the Ode, the lyric is like a Ballad except that it is notably non-narrative and shorter. Lyrics are often written in the first person narrative voice to better confess emotions, feelings, or even thoughts.
Lyrics are what the majority of singers sit back at before entering the studio to record lines.
Emphatically, the highlighted types of poetry—obviously covering nearly 50% of all poetry types—can be sung. Just imagine.
With this exposition, I want to believe that you’ve seen the verisimilitude between poetry and song. And that any kind of song will find a place in the heart or blood of poetry.
As a matter of fact, some journals accepting poems, Thrush Poetry Journal for one, only give merit to poems that sing. Look up our article on some of the best places to submit your poems online if that captures your interest.Share