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1. a composition in verse, usually characterized by concentrated and heightened language in which words are chosen for their sound and suggestive power as well as for their sense, and using such techniques as metre, rhyme, and alliteration
2. a literary composition that is not in verse but exhibits the intensity of imagination and language common to it
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a relatively short literary composition in verse, organized according to rules governing the construction of poetic language within a particular rhyme scheme. In distinction to prose, the poem is regular in composition and rhythm and therefore assumes a relatively greater weight of meaning as à whole as well as in each of its elements.

Depending on content and structure, poems are divided into various types and genres, for example, the ode, elegy, and ballad. Poems generally depict a brief but crucial and meaningful event in the life of man or nature and convey a “concentrated inner state” (G. Hegel). In the 19th and 20th centuries, the poem has been perceived primarily as a form of the lyric and contrasted to other verse genres, such as the short story in verse and the narrative poem.


Zhirmunskii, V. M. “Kompozitsiia liricheskikh stikhotvorenii.” In Teoriia stikha. Leningrad, 1975.
Ginzburg, L. O linke, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.