Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Epic Poetry

If three-hundred page poems are not your cup of tea, this post might not be either. However, if you are not intimidated (or bored) by verse I would like to recommend a few of the world’s poetic treasures. An epic poem contains the plot, characters, and crises synonymous with a novel, but each element is presented in a cadence rarely found in a novel. Initially the cadence seems a distraction, but once internalized it lends itself to a distinct reading unique to long poetry.

These are three of my favorite epics:

Dante’s Divine Comedy
An imaginative depiction of a soul’s journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven

A heroic poem telling of Beowulf’s battles against three dragons and his fidelity to people in need

The Nibelungenlied
An adventurous tale of a warrior’s murder and his wife’s journey for revenge.

These are three epics I plan to read soon:

Derek Walcott’s Omeros
A reimagining of Greek epics set on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia coupled with the aftermath of British colonization

The Tale of Kieu
A young woman sacrifices herself to save her family. She suffers degradation after degradation, but continues to seek love.

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
A transcendental poem championing nature and man. Whitman allegedly wrote the poem after Emerson called for a poet to address the American spirit.


Anonymous said...

I had to read The Inferno in high school and I liked it! What the heck? I even understood it! Really surprised me.

liblairian said...

I had the same response. I thought "well I should read this classic" and ended up really enjoying it.