|Dolphin embryo beside a 1-inch pin|
"Screw this! We're crawling back into the ocean."
Who knows? Perhaps their collective mythology refers to a disastrous time of dry, as opposed to flooded, land.
Given that they have little more to do than eat, swim and chat, dolphins have developed vocal centers that are larger and more complex than those of humans, as is their overall brain size. Dolphins emit a signature whistle--a name assigned to them before they are a year old--to identify themselves. Just as some human societies are matrilineal, the name-sound of a male dolphin resembles its mother's more than its father's and more than those coming from a female dolphin (e.g. the sister/daughter). This suggests highly developed social and verbal skills--quite possibly higher than ours. If so, our scientists' efforts to learn their vocabulary might be like an infant from Beer Bottle Crossing, Idaho trying to learn Hungarian.
Actually, yes, we can. Rather easily, in fact.
I assume you're familiar with the "Telephone" game, where we give a message to the first person in a queue, have them repeat it along the line and then compare the final person's version to the original.
If you understand that, by definition, poetry is verbatim, the solution is obvious. Have a computer run file comparisons among those recordings of dolphin communication. If spectrograms uncover identical samples too long to be dismissed as phrasing (e.g. salutation, idiom, cliché, etc.) or messaging you have music and/or poetry. If there are words you have poetry (perhaps including one if its subsets, song lyrics).
The next time people tell you that a definition of poetry is useless, impractical or impossible, tell 'em about the dolphins.
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Earl Gray, Esquirrel