Glossary

Term: Pathos


Pathos is part of a poem or other work of art which makes the reader or audience feel sorrow or pity. The Greek word pathos means 'suffering'.

Pathos is a key skill for any writer, and a highly effective feature of many poems, often in those cases where it is somewhat restrained or understated. Poetry has a special reputation for being able to move us. On the other hand, a clumsy or exaggerated attempt at pathos can result instead in bathos or over-sentimentality or make the reader feel manipulated.

How to use this term

There is much pathos in the comparison between the narrow gray streets an the longed-for foreign lands in Brian Patten's 'Geography Lesson'

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