Category: Literature and Poetry

Works of poetry and literature, works on poetry and literature — whether they be classical, medieval, Renaissance, baroque, etc. — If they are on this site, they are in this section.

The word “literature” is taken from the Latin word littera, which means “letters,” not as in the alphabet, but as in the words that letters spell. Latin also has the word verbum, which means “word,” not as in the material definition: the four-letter monosyllable, w-o-r-d, but as in the formal definition, what the term means. Verbum, in its formal sense, can be translated as “idea.” When you predicate one idea or concept of another, you have a proposition, or judgment. When man reasons, he is always linking propositions in order to arrive at conclusions. That’s logic, not literature.

Literature is written composition. It is the telling of a story on paper. The story can be either fiction or non-fiction, a novel, history, or drama. Bad writing can never qualify as literature, no matter how moving the story line. Good writing can never qualify as literature if there is no story in the writing, no development of a theme, no touching of the soul, just facts. Scientific writing is not literature, but science fiction certainly can be. Historical composition is not literature, but when the author brings adventure and great events to life, as in an inspiring biography, or a saga, that certainly can be classified as literature — that is, if the writing flows in style and grace.

It is hard to define the word literature. We all know what a well written book is, or a well written article, or essay, but we often differ when it comes to explaining what exactly it is that makes a book “a good read.”

Poetry, on the other hand, is easier to define. There must be meter and rhythm in the composition, and the composition must be divided into lines, verses, and stanzas. Poems do not necessary have to have rhyming verses, but usually they do. Epic poems, on the other hand, all have meter and rhythm, but not all have rhyming verses. A poem is a painting in words. Poesis, the Greek word for poetry, means “something made.” So, in the Greek tradition, poets did not just tell a beautiful story, they built it with the symmetry and harmony of meter and rhythm.

On Unholy Gloom

When Satan fails to make us bad, He is most content to keep us sad; For a heavy heart cannot contain Buoyant thoughts from the high domain, And must perforce gravitate To matters of a lower state.

Longfellow’s Catholic Affinity

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the greatest poets to grace the sunrise of American literature in the mid-nineteenth century, had more than a passing interest in Catholic themes. Study travels to the European  countrysides, which were granted him by Maine’s Bowdoin College, … Continue reading