What is a Concrete Poem? Discover with Examples

Understanding poetry greatly influences our perspective towards literature. Poetry comes in various forms, one of which is concrete poetry, also known as ‘shape poetry’. This unique form of poetry goes beyond the traditional structures and integrates visual and textual elements to create a comprehensive piece of work. Reading a concrete poem is an exciting experience; its visual representation aligns with the poem’s subject, giving the reader multiple layers to unfold.

What is a Concrete Poem?

Unlike traditional poetry, a concrete poem takes a visually appealing form that enhances and echoes the poem’s meaning. This compelling style of poetry doesn’t merely rely on words but their visual representation to create a balanced interplay between the aesthetics and substance of the poem. Concrete poetry has been in existence since ancient times, with roots harking back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, when the Greeks devised visually pleasing poems.

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How is a Concrete Poem Created?

The creation of a concrete poem requires a special kind of imagination, one that conflates words and visual elements seamlessly. The main objective is to represent the poem’s subject visually, which can be achieved in two main ways:

  • Outline: The words are arranged to form an outline shape relating to the poem’s subject. George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” is an excellent example in this category.
  • Lines of Drawing: A more complex form, using words to draw vivid imagery relating to the poem’s subject. Mary Ellen Solt’s “White Rose” exemplifies this method.

Noteworthy Examples of Concrete Poems

Over centuries, numerous poets have experimented with the concrete poem form, producing notable works. Some significant examples include:

  • “Easter Wings” by George Herbert: The poem takes the shape of wings, magnifying the theme of redemption.
  • “Forsythia” by Mary Ellen Solt: In her collection, “Flowers in Concrete,” Solt created visually stunning concrete poems that beautifully depict flowers.
  • “Silence” by Eugen Gomringer: Showcasing the concept of silence via a block made out of the word “silence,” with a void in the center.
  • “The Mouse’s Tale” by Lewis Carroll: The poem takes the form of a mouse’s tail, ingeniously making a word-based visual pun.
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Concrete poetry is a unique and creative form of textual artistry—it extends beyond the realm of words and uses visual aspects to supplement the poem’s message. Examples of concrete poetry provide insight into how aesthetics and literature blend to bring about an art form that truly engages the reader. Whether you’re an aspiring writer or a dedicated reader, engaging with concrete poetry is a rewarding and enriching experience.

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