Every great epic deserves a spectacular soundtrack and we think this month’s playlist is destined to pull you along on a fabulous journey. You’ll find songs inspired by many grand epics and songs that simply sound epic. Listen along and perhaps they’ll spur you to be bold, to take a risk, to dare… Are you ready to click ‘play?’
An epic, specifically, is a genre of classical poetry which originated in Greece. The word comes from the ancient Greek word epos, which means “poetic utterance.”
As an extended narrative in verse form, the epic retells and explains the heroic journey of one person, or a group. Blending highly stylized, lyrical language with superhuman feats and fantastic adventures, the elements of the epic are formed. If you were to examine some of the oldest written narratives, you’d find many of them to be written in epic form. Some examples include: Gilgamesh, Mahâbhârata, Iliad, Odyssey, Beowulf, and Aeneid.
The epic carried important cultural truths but, as M. I. Finley puts it,
“Whatever else the epic may have been, it was not history. It was narrative, detailed and precise, with minute description of fighting and sailing, and feasting and burials and sacrifices, all very real and vivid; it may even contain, buried away, some kernels of historical fact—but it was not history.”
Write a poem introducing a hero from one of the epic poems listed above (or one you’ve created). Your hero does not lack derring-do or superhuman abilities. What is their name? Describe the exploits of your lion-hearted warrior. What makes this larger-than-life person brave and worthy of an adventure?
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s a poem from Andrew we enjoyed:
The Elephants that are Real
I know the elephants upon the wheel aren’t real,
Just stick out cut outs on the floor,
But looking down – oh, on looking down –
My child saw them, and he believed
And something deep inside me thought them real.
Cotton candy stretched in a line – “pink froth
From some old rainbow stream
Which tumbles over rocks and acrobatic lines, ”
I told my son –
He looked, and how his eyes did dream!
Bright colours, silly wigs of twisted yarn
And we go on, oh ever on
‘Neath twirling figures, suspended men –
“You know they’re catching stars up there,
To help the ever coming dawn?”
He laughed. I did not think the elephants real
But looking through his eyes, they are.
Why not, why no magic for all of us?
See how they roll and tumble in our minds!
The best diversion, glowing circus star!
Photo by Enrique Dans. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland