Lyrics or poetry?

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I'm Just wondering , because I wonder a lot Wink

do you think there is a difference between poetry and lyrics?
poetry is a complex animal with

I rarely hear this in song with maybe the exception of some of simon and Garfunkel or don McLean songs
its not just a simple case of doing perfect rhyme
or End Rhymes
or Internal Rhymes
or consonant Rhymes
or assonant rhymes
or even Identical Rhymes

Im my opinion
it really is a different animal from writing lyrics

I would say there is no inherent difference. Broadly speaking, poetry would use a broader range of literary conventions and metres, and lyrics would use a smaller range with more regularity.

One key difference is context. Poetry exists in the context of silence. Lyrics exist in the context of the instrumentation around them, the genre, key signatures, and so forth. This, obviously, is true to a lesser extent with, say, lyrics-only FAWMers who write without a genre in mind and leave it up to an artist to interpret.

I have done dramatic readings of some of my lyrics at open mic nights. Some have worked better than others, but I don't think this should stand as an argument that something written as a song lyric *cannot* stand alone in the context of silence. I've known musicians who took part in this challenge who could make *anything* work. There is a certain skill in weaving words into a genre, stretching, swapping and swallowing syllables to make the piece flow. I expect making words interact with silence is a similar talent. One for which, evidently, I have room for improvement.

Similar here... I hear folks say, Poetry stands on it's own, while Lyrics exists within music (does not stand alone like the words of a Poem).

It's an interesting thought, and always good a thing to think Smile , wonder and etc., well, --I think so anyway Smile

Some poetry has a meter that works well for being sung.

I think some poetry is too long to be sung out for modern listener's ears. But, bards used to sing very long pieces to share the news. And I have written songs with very long poems before. It is challenging, but not impossible.

Also, I think that concrete and other visual poems are best left as they are as art pieces. But, if it's a poem that must be read aloud to be appreciated, it probably would also be appreciated in a song's lyrics.

A good point, reinforced by the mumbles and grumbles of collab partners who I've made sing lines like 'A sinister citizen sinner, citrus sinensis' and 'From shirts and shells, and shoes and ships'.


I think part of the question is that with the advent of modernist poetry, the structures which formerly used to be demanded by poetry largely collapsed. It's rather hard to define poetry in a modern/post-modern context as compared to centuries past, at least in English.

But most poetry has some sort of internal structure and consistency with regard to whatever rule (or lack thereof) its creator sets for it.

I see your point, but there are many examples of songs which have put music to pre-existing poems. Strange Fruit, for example.

In fact I believe it's one of the challenges in 50/90 this year.

To me a lyric is a type of poem, much like a limerick or haiku or sonnet etc., That doesn't mean every poem is a lyric. But I could make a (probably awful) song out of any poem if I truly wanted to. (No, I don't want to try the wasteland by t.s. or anything by Homer.)

Two different animals.

@moonshadow I was in several poetry groups some years ago and the question has multiple answers Lol . From what I have learned, the type of rhymes/assonance/consonance that are accepted/expected have also varied over time and in different musical and poetic styles and structures.

Using the not so usual rhymes, rules, and structures seems like it could be a good song challenge eh @metalfoot?

FWIW I took a poetry class last year and 99% of the poems people wrote were in free verse

@AndyGetch It's pretty much what I do, to be honest, if I'm giving a try with my lyric writing. I'll do syllable counting and stress counting, play with assonance and alliteration, etc...

@French Cricket Yes, when I did my bachelor's degree, I did a double major in maths and English literature and I would say that on the whole, you've described 20th / 21st century poetic form since about the 1920s... The problem being, in my opinion, that a lot of free verse becomes nearly indistinguishable from prose in a hurry if there are none of the conventions of poetry left to what remains.

Might be interesting to add that in the history of opera, the composer usually worked with a librettist who came up with all the (extensive) lyrics, to some degree or another. A few composers, like Wagner, came up with their own words, but more often than not there was a collaboration.