Title first granted in England for poetic excellence. Begun in 1616, the office was formally established in 1668 and has been continuous since then. Its holder, a salaried member of the British royal household, was formerly expected to compose poems for court or national occasions, but since the appointment of William Wordsworth in 1843 the office has been a reward for eminence in poetry and has carried no specific duties. In 1985 the U.S. government created the h1 of poet laureate, to be held by the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.
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Oral court poetry originating in Norway but developed chiefly by Icelandic poets (skalds) from the 9th to the 13th century. Skaldic poetry was contemporary with Eddic poetry (see Edda) but differed from it in metre, diction, and style. Eddic poetry is anonymous, simple, and terse, often taking the form of an objective dramatic dialogue. Skalds were identified by name. Their poems were descriptive, occasional, and subjective, their metres strictly syllabic instead of free and variable, and their language ornamented with similes and metaphors. Formal subjects were the mythical stories engraved on shields, praise of kings, epitaphs, and genealogies.
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Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through its meaning, sound, and rhythm. It may be distinguished from prose by its compression, frequent use of conventions of metre and rhyme, use of the line as a formal unit, heightened vocabulary, and freedom of syntax. Its emotional content is expressed through a variety of techniques, from direct description to symbolism, including the use of metaphor and simile. Seealso prose poem; prosody.
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