Prose Poem

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error


While some critics have traced the origins of the American prose poem to the German Romantic fragments of Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel, James Macpherson’s

Poems of Ossian

, or Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays, most consider Baudelaire’s

Paris Spleen

(begun in 1855 and first published in full in 1869) as the first instance of a consciously cultivated tradition of the genre. In his Preface to the collection, Baudelaire defines the prose poem as “the miracle of a poetic prose, musical though rhythmless and rhymeless, flexible yet rugged enough to identify with the lyrical impulses of the soul, the ebbs and flows of revery, the pangs of conscience” (25). Baudelaire’s collection was one of the first significant attempts by a major representative of the Western canon to question the…

2313 words

Citation: Delville, Michel. "Prose Poem". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 July 2018 [, accessed 15 July 2024.]

19508 Prose Poem 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.