Poetry is an annoying word to me.
Most everyone I know has gone through a “maybe I’m a poet phase” where they write terrible rhymes about the “darkness” in their soul or the tragedy of a broken heart. Breakup poetry is almost as bad as the verses modern men throw at women when they want to flaunt their “writer” status.
It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Sure the greats are “great,” but even Robert Frost and Emily Dickenson never really did it for me. If I’m going to voluntarily read any kind of poetry it’s going to be either Haiku (for it’s beauty in brevity), or epics (for their lengthy lyricism).
I like extremes in art. Short poems or long, the in-between doesn’t grab me for some reason.
And as much as I love Haiku Master Buson, Epics always win all. There is always an exception. I loath Beowulf. The arrogant hero made me roll my eyes and root for Grendel. The story told from Grendel’s perspective is way more relatable and interesting.
But here are some of my favorites. You’ll probably recognize them:
1. Marmion by Sir Walter Scott
This classic tale holds some of the best elements of ye romances of old. It has knights, battle, and of course lost love.
2. Faust by Johann Wolfgang Goethe
The price of selling your soul isn’t just paid by you, but everyone you love. That theme plays out with drama and the chance for redemption in such a way that reading it is less about following the words and more about experiencing the sensations first hand.
3. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
Arguably the most famous epic, these related epics harbor so much imagery, foreshadowing, and ancient lore that I could read them until the end of time. Though in Homer’s time, they were really designed for spoken performance.
4. The Ramayan of Valmiki
A fight for the throne, a lost wife, and evil spirits? Count me in. This Hindu epic pulls western readers from their culture and displays a different style that holds certain similarities to all great stories.
5. The Nibelungenlied
This is a German telling of the Norse myth of Siegfried. Like many epics it follows a man on a quest, but when things go wrong the perspective shifts in the 2nd book.
There are plenty more epics and a long line of them are still sitting on my to-read list, but I found it in me to write my own silly epic a while back. It’s a modern monster tragedy titled, “Rusted Hope,” that is going to be published in the August issue of FrostFire Worlds.
What’s YOUR favorite epic?