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Prose Poetry

Prose Poetry

Prose poetry is poetry written in prose instead of using verse but preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery and emotional effects.

 

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Megan Mockler

Megan Mockler

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The prose poem is a type of poetry characterized by its lack of line breaks. Although the prose poem resembles a short piece of prose, its allegiance to poetry can be seen in the use of rhythms, figures of speech, rhyme, internal rhyme, assonance (repetition of similar vowel sounds), consonance (repetition of similar consonant sounds), and images. Early poetry (such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, both written by Homer approximately 2,800 years ago) lacked conventional line breaks for the simple fact that these works were not written down for hundreds of years, instead being passed along (and presumably embellished) in the oral tradition.

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Conventionally and casually speaking, prose is the default or unmarked term posed against poetry, which is thought to be more fashioned more strange, and more intense than prose. Yet much English prose shares the characteristics of poetry.

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In the genre which we call prose there is verse of every conceivable rhythm, some of it admirable. But in reality there is no prose; there is the alphabet, an then there are verse forms, more or less rigid, more or less diffuse. In every attempt at style there is versification.

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A further complication is that prose poetry combines the characteristics of poetry with the superficial appearance of prose, such as in Robert Frost's poem, "Home Burial."

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Prose poetry combines the characteristics of poetry with the apparent appearance of prose containing traces of metrical structure or verse. Prose poetry deliberately breaks some of the normal rules of prose to create heightened imagery or emotional effect.

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Prose is ordinary language that people use in writing such as poetry, stories, editorials, books, etc. The word prose is derived from the Latin word 'prosa' meaning straightforward. Prose comes in two types of text - narrative and expository. Narrative text is defined as "something that is narrated such as a story. Expository text is non-fiction reading material such as Description, Analysis, Classification etc.

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Prose poetry is poetry written as prose, in other words it is a hybrid form combining poetry and prose. The poem has all of the essential elements of traditional poetry written in verse. It has rhythm, rhyme, repetition, assonance, consonance, and imagery.The imagery can be so startling as to be surrealistic in nature.

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The prose poem was first introduced to the English-speaking public by Stuart Merrill's "Pastels in Prose," a collection of French prose poems in English translation published in New York in 1890. In the years that followed the appearance of Merrill's anthology, the prose poem began to arouse the interest of a whole generation of British Decadent writers. The main representatives of the British prose poem in the final years of the nineteenth century included Ernest Dowson, the Scottish author William Sharp (a.k.a. Fiona Macleod), and Oscar Wilde, whose parable-like "Poems in Prose) (1894) are the first instance of a consciously cultivated tradition of the prose poem in English.

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Although dozens of French writers experimented with the prose poem in the 1700s, it was not until Baudelaire's work appeared in 1855 that the prose poem gained wide recognition. However, it was Rimbaud's book of prose poetry Illuminations, published in 1886, that would stand as his greatest work, and among the best examples of the prose poem.

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Prose poetry dates back to the ancient writings of Hebrew scholars. It was used in the King James version of the Bible in the Book of Psalms. However, it was not recognized as a minor genre until after Aloysius Bertrand published Gespard de la nuit in 1842. This collection of fantasies written in rhythmical and flowery language is believed to have had a distinct influence on later poets. In 1869, Charles Baudelaire published Petis poemes en prose.The poetry was alive with vivid, almost surreal images. Some of the imagery ran to the grotesque.

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