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The laws governing the history of poetry

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Abstract

Poetry and the other arts by definition require the production of novel artifacts. Someone who merely copies a poem or plays a piece of music is not thought of as a poet or composer. Even if this were not the case, we habituate to the repetition of the same thing and want something new. The pressure for novelty may be a major consideration or a nuisance for poets, but it has exerted a constant pressure since poetry was first written whereas other pressures have come and gone. When we consider how novel ideas are produced, we see that the pressure for novelty dictates not only that poetry will change across time but that it will change in a very specific direction. A theory describing how entropy must increase in poetry and that sorts of contents and styles must be found in the history of any poetic tradition is described. A content analysis of samples of British poetry by 170 poets born between 1290 and 1949 is described. Support for all of the theoretical predictions was found.

References

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