Prose is information.
Ideally, it would be enjoyably presented information. Occasionally, someone would "nail it", recounting a narrative so perfectly that attendees would want to preserve it exactly as performed. This might include gestures and inflections but would, at the very least, require that the words not be changed. Thus:
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #67|
Because of its cultural, entertainment, legal, religious (e.g. the verses of the Bible, Torah, Quran, etc.), and historical value, preliterate societies expended considerable resources memorizing poetry. One of humankind's first sciences was prosody: a collection of crowd-pleasing memory aids designed to ease the task of retention. Thus:
Prosody is mnemonics.
Because it needed to be memorized, poetry became more concise and featured more repetitions: phonemes (assonance, consonance, alliteration), syllables (rhyme), feet (rhythm), stich length (meter), words and phrases (anaphora, anadiplosis), whole lines (repetends), and stanzas (choruses).
Thus, [prose] stories are told. Poetry is recited. Also, "forgettable prose" isn't an oxymoron.
Imagine if a solar flare destroyed every page and every byte of data. Even without a phenomenal "photographic" memory, we could likely recreate most of the canonical poems and none of the classic prose.
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We hope you find this definition helpful.
Learning Poetry - 1. Definition (in three minutes)
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