Occasion Poetry

This is the catchall category of the text. After reading chapters on love, nature, extranatural, war and political poetry, you should have read many poems that cross borders. For instance, a love poem may speak of the soul and be set in nature. War poetry can have an environmental theme while protesting government policies. However, behind all such poems was an occasion, an incident or a memory that inspired or angered the writer and that may or may not even be mentioned on the page.

When we speak of occasion poems, usually we mean ones that overtly note a date and are based on an event or a memory fixed in time. Such poetry often treats subject matter like birthdays, celebrations, weddings, anniversaries, state or academic functions, historic events, news items, and personal and public tragedies. But you certainly shouldn't limit your muse to those. Essentially you can compose an occasion poem if, at a certain date or time, you witnessed something extraordinary or experienced a turning point in your life.

It can be as simple as this moment depicted in a song by Robert Browning:


The year's at the spring

And the day's at the morn;

Morning's at seven;

The hillside's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;

The snail's on the thorn:

All's right with the world!

Here is a sampling of the various types of occasional verse:

The Wedding Poem. An epithalamium, Greek for "at the bridal chamber," is any song or poem sung outside the lovers' bedroom on the wedding night, to augur a good life. This excerpt is from a 1596

poem by Edmund Spenser who describes a moment "before the bridal chamber" to mark the double wedding of daughters of an earl:

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