Poetry can take various forms but always expresses a message in a unique way, often with rhythm or rhyme. However, some of the most intensely expressive poetry is highly descriptive and uses language that creates images and feelings beyond that of other literary work. Descriptive poetry, unlike narrative poetry, is known not necessarily for telling a story but for its deep depiction of a person, animal or inanimate object. The feelings the poet has about this object are secondary to the description of the subject, so they don't get in the way of the visual imagery.
Several poets are known for their rich vocabulary and the imagery they produce with that vocabulary in their written work.
One such poet is Henry David Thoreau, a transcendentalist author and poet whose work was highly descriptive. For example:
Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight,
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
By night star-veiling, and by day
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;
Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.
Thoreau's description of smoke is intense and creates a vivid picture in the reader's mind with metaphors that compare the smoke to an "Icarian bird" or "incense."
Other descriptions such a "star-veiling" and "shadowy" allow readers to compose images of their own of how the smoke must have appeared to Thoreau as he wrote this piece.
LoveToKnow contributing writer Kelly Roper is also an adept writer of descriptive poems. Consider this first poem evoking imagery of the pale moonlight against the darkness of midnight.
Midnight and Moonlight
Her hair as dark as midnight
Sleek and wavy, trailing down.
Her skin as pale as moonlight
Projects a silvery glow all around.
The night so cool and quiet,
As the stars twinkle in the sky.
And all of nature stands in awe,
As this beauty passes by.
In this second poem, the description extends well beyond visual elements for a more visceral feel of bodily sensation.
Quenching My Thirst
That terrible, dry-throated feeling
With tongue so parched it sticks
To the roof of my mouth like putty.
Nothing there to swallow but air.
Then the lovely tinkling of ice
Falling into a glass,
And the steady fizzing sound
Of a stream of soda pouring.
The soothing feel of cold
Glass against my lips.
The blessed wetness
Bathing lips, tongue, and throat.
Descriptive poetry is literary work that displays the talent of those whose rich vocabularies, adept writing skills, and vivid imaginations come together to create masterpieces such as the ones of Wordsworth, Dickinson, Thoreau, and others.