The titles of poems are the first bits of text readers encounter. As a result, the title of a poem is intended to entice the reader to read the poem. The title is sometimes intended to have the reader ponder how the title of the poem relates to what the poet wants the reader to contemplate while reading the poem itself. Generally, the title of a poem should be concise and to the point.
Many poets like to use titles that tell us something about the content of the poem, thereby encouraging us to read it. For example, one might title a love poem "A Lover's Complaint" if the poem was about a love affair that went badly wrong. Or, one might title a war poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" (Latin for "Sweet and Decorous It Is") if the battle it describes took place during Caesar's own time.
Titles also help us understand how much of a poem is appropriate to read in a single sitting. For example, a long poem may be divided into several sections to allow time for different topics within the poem to be discussed at length. A short poem usually contains only one topic which can be covered in a brief space of time.
Finally, titles help us find our way through a collection of poems. For example, one might look up the title of a poem in a poetry anthology to see what other poems by the same author are like.
What is the significance of a poem's title? A title draws the reader in by piqueing the reader's curiosity while maintaining suspense by not revealing the topic or finish. A good title can make up for a weak plot or vice versa. A bad title can destroy a good story.
A title can also be used to create mood. For example, "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe is very melancholy. "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg is very angry. "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig Van Beethoven is very joyful.
Titles can also help identify characters and scenes. For example, "A Room with a View" identifies its main character immediately. "To Kill a Mockingbird" tells us everything we need to know about attorney Atticus Finch and his hometown of Maycomb County, Alabama through its title.
Last but not least, titles can influence how we perceive a work as a whole. For example, "The Raven" begins with a very gloomy scene but ends on a happy note. This contrasts greatly with "Poems from the Portuguese" by Luis de Camoes which starts out happy but ends sad. This contrast helps illustrate that poetry can have many different themes and tones within one work.
Many people have pointed out that publishers and editors despise poetry without titles. Poems, like stories and novels, require a name and must be named something. They can't keep faffing around, labeling the poem by just repeating all the words in the opening line. Fortunately for us, someone has already thought of this problem and come up with a solution: the blank verse epigram. An epigram is a short witty sentence or phrase used to label or identify something.
So why would anyone want to use them to identify a poem? Because they're concise, to the point, and don't explain any more than necessary. For example, one could say: "Shakespeare's Sonnets are excellent. Don't listen to those who tell you otherwise - eat your heart out Shakespeare!" Or one could simply write "Sonnet 116" and be done with it.
The term "blank verse" comes from the fact that these sentences or phrases are used as epitaphs for deceased individuals, so they need to be as brief as possible. If we look at Shakespeare's sonnets, for example, they follow a pattern of 15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.
Titles might be derived from song lyrics, book contents, a passage from a poetry, or famous phrases. There are several ideas floating around. It would be better if you investigated them. Make a list of your titles: It is best to jot down your titles as soon as they come to mind. This will help you find the right one later.
Are there any rules for naming books? Yes, actually there are. The most popular rule is that the title should be simple and catchy. It should also describe the content of the book. For example, Shakespeare's plays are not titled after historical figures; instead, they are titled after characters in each play.
Books about different subjects can be called with single words or short phrases. For example, A Dictionary of Everyday English is a handy reference tool that people use every day. My Favorite Teacher is a book that many students may write about their favorite teacher. But which one would you pick?
Books can also be named after its author or editors. For example, Charles Dickens' novels are named after characters they create. His wife, Harriet, was the original editor of his works until her death in 1857. From then on, he edited the works himself. "A Christmas Carol" was published in 1843 when Dickens was 34 years old. He died in 1870 at the age of 58. So, you can see that this book was written by someone who had many talents!
Book titles should be underlined or put in italics. (Titles of stories, essays, and poems are in "quotation marks.") Refer to the text specifically as a novel, story, essay, memoir, or poem, depending on what it is. In subsequent references to the author, use his or her last name. In reviews and articles, treat the work as if its title was really the focus of attention.
Books may have more than one title. As long as they are distinct titles, they are correct. For example, there are two books by Thomas Hardy with these titles: The Mayor of Casterbridge and Wessex Stories. Each is a complete work, so both are appropriate for inclusion in a library collection.
A book with no real clear title can be problematic. If a book has such an unclear title that you cannot tell whether it is a novel, essay, poem, or article then it should not be published. It could be a collection of unrelated items. Even if it appears to be a single item, such as a novel, if you cannot tell this from looking at it then it should not be sold in stores or offered for sale on the web. Bookstores and librarians will usually know what genre something is if you ask them, but if you are writing your own name above the cover then you will need to look up how to format book titles in the style of those books.