A poem is called a poem. The thing poem means a poem that places an object in the center and is written from its perspective. The poem type aims to imitate the essence of the thing from its point of view, as if ebendieses object speaks about itself. Objects are described as objects that do not have their own voice. Thus, poetry can reveal the view of an actual thing (object, artwork, etc.), but also that of living creatures (plants, animals, etc.). A well-known example is The Panther of Rilke.

The term was coined in 1926 by the Germanist Kurt Oppert, even though such poems appeared earlier and can be found in various literary eras. They often treat works of the visual arts, ie works of architecture, sculpture, painting, drawing and graphics. Thus, the type of poem is also often found among poets who have a close relationship with the visual arts.

It is essential for the poem type that the attempt is made to reproduce the possible utterances about the respective thing from its possible view. The poet thus tries to put himself in the object and to understand his possible thoughts. Let’s look at an example:

The Panther
In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

His gaze is from the passing of the bars
so tired that he does not hold anything.
It is as if there were a thousand bars
and behind a thousand bars no world.
The soft course of supple strong steps,
which rotates in the very smallest circle,
is like a dance of force around a center,
in which a great will is stunned.

Only sometimes does the curtain of the pupil push
English translation – Linguee Propose as a translation of. Then a picture goes in,
goes through the limbs tense silence –
and cease to be in the heart.

The above example is The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the best known works of the poet. The panther is a thing poem, because it describes a thing that has no voice. The work is divided into three stanzas, the first two describing the animal from the outside and showing in the last lines the interior of the animal, which completely passive perceives its environment.

Nevertheless, in this example, a speaker is present who describes the panther. However, this almost completely falls short of the description of the object, which is typical of such a thing poetry: the lyric self disappears almost completely and is only present as a descriptive, distant instance.

It is also characteristic that a thing poem does not deal with subjective feelings of the lyric self, reflects certain questions, or muses about the artist’s existence. In the absolute foreground is the thing itself, whereby the goal is to describe this thing as well as possible, be it from the outside or from the inside: the thing poem is to express the essence of the object.

Examples of the thing poem
Below we would like to introduce you to selected poetry. All examples have in common that they represent the respective object distanced or objectified and show it as if ebendieses object surpasses itself, whereby the lyrical ego is scarcely perceptible.

On a lamp, Eduard Mörike
The carousel, Rainer Maria Rilke
Roman fountain, Rainer Maria Rilke
The Roman well, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
Short overview: The most important to the poem form at a glance
The poem of poetry is the poem which tries to represent the essence of an object. The respective thing can be described from the outside and inside, but just as the object speaks about itself.
There may be a distance to the object, the mood of the lyric self as well as of the poet being excluded, or what is described determines decisively the form and language of the poem. Basically, everyday objects, complex things or even dumb creatures can be described.
Note: Related poems are the painting poem that describes a picture, and the architectural poem that treats buildings. Both are special forms of the thing poem.

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