Later poets and aestheticians often distinguished poetry from, and defined it in opposition to prose, which was generally understood as writing with a proclivity to logical explication and a linear narrative structure.
This does not imply that poetry is illogical or lacks narration, but rather that poetry is an attempt to render the beautiful or sublime without the burden of engaging the logical or narrative thought process.
Classical thinkers employed classification as a way to define and assess the quality of poetry.
Notably, the existing fragments of Aristotle's Poetics describe three genres of poetry—the epic, the comic, and the tragic—and develop rules to distinguish the highest-quality poetry in each genre, based on the underlying purposes of the genre.
Readers accustomed to identifying poetry with Dante, Goethe, Mickiewicz and Rumi may think of it as written in lines based on rhyme and regular meter; there are, however, traditions, such as Biblical poetry, that use other means to create rhythm and euphony.
Much modern poetry reflects a critique of poetic tradition, Other ancient epic poetry includes the Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey; the Avestan books, the Gathic Avesta and the Yasna; the Roman national epic, Virgil's Aeneid; and the Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Poetry has a long history, dating back to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh.Recently, postmodernism has come to convey more completely prose and poetry as distinct entities, and also among genres of poetry, as having meaning only as cultural artifacts.Postmodernism goes beyond modernism's emphasis on the creative role of the poet, to emphasize the role of the reader of a text (Hermeneutics), and to highlight the complex cultural web within which a poem is read.Varying intonation also affects how rhythm is perceived.Languages can rely on either pitch, such as in Vedic Sanskrit or Ancient Greek, or tone.