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Sunday, 19 March 2017


The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia that is often regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature. The essential story is about the relationship between 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for 'Gilgamesh'),, a king who has become distracted and disheartened by his rule, and a friend, Enkidu, who is half-wild and who undertakes dangerous quests with Gilgamesh.

The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about Bilgamesh, king of Uruk, dating from the Third Dynasty of Ur (circa 2100 BC). These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic. The first surviving version of this combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian" version, dates to the 18th century BC.

Partially broken tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh

Poetry in ancient Greek literature was accompanied by the lyre. It could be sung by an individual (monody) or by a chorus accompanied by dance as well as music, composed for a religious festival.

The choral performances of Greek poetry, together with the song and dance in the ceremonies honoring Dionysus in Athens, laid the foundations for the Greek theatre, both tragedy and comedy.

Around 600 BC Sappho and Alcaeus, both living on the island of Lesbos, composed lyric poetry to celebrate their emotions and concerns; remarkable fragments of their work survive.

The first great English epic poem, Beowulf, was written in Old English in c750. An anonymous and untitled work until 1805, it was a Christian poem that exemplified early medieval society in England and exhibited roots that reach back to Old Testament laws.

The first folio of the heroic epic poem Beowulf, written primarily in the West Saxon dialect of Old English

The well known lullaby "Hush-a-bye baby, on the tree top", is said to have been the first English poem written on American soil, when a boy that sailed with the Pilgrim Fathers was inspired by the natives' custom of propping babies cradles in tree tops.

The Kyrgyz oral poem, the Epic of Manas, is the world’s longest poem, 20 times longer than the Odyssey, and has been recognized by Unesco as intangible cultural heritage. Manas is a traditional epic poem dating to the 18th century but claimed by the Kyrgyz people to be much older.

A traditional Kyrgyz manaschi performing part of the epic poem at a yurt camp in Karakol

The fear of poetry is metrophobia.

Here is a list of songs inspired by poems. 

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