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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Daljit Nagra

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation.

Comic Verse

I'm troubled, as you can tell by my introduction, about comic verse. Comic verse gets bad press because rigid notions of comedy foreground throwaway poems. Surely the best comedy is when the poem surprises us into laughter rather than setting up t... >