Which Type Of Lyric Poetry Often Includes A Volta

Background Information

Lyric poetry is a type of poetry which is primarily used to express emotions and feelings. It is not structured like other forms of poetry and often relies heavily on figurative language as a means of conveying its message. Lyric poetry often takes the form of a song, with a particular section usually known as the chorus or bridge. Lyric poetry is often associated with love, loss, and longing and can be used to convey a certain emotional state or moment.

What is a Volta?

A volta can be defined as a kind of turning point or switch in the emotional or intellectual content of a lyric poem. In other words, it is an abrupt change of direction or outlook within the work. This change can be quite dramatic and can be used to create a variety of effects. For example, it can be used to create suspense, surprise, or even humour.

Which Types of Lyrics Poetry Include a Volta?

The most common type of lyric poetry which includes a volta is sonnets. A classic sonnet is composed of fourteen lines, with a volta appearing at the end of the octave (the first eight lines). This switch in the content of the poem often serves as a kind of pivot within the work, allowing the poet to explore a range of topics and issues within the poem. In addition, many lyric poems known as lieder, or ‘songs,’ can include a volta as in a sonnet.

Characteristics of a Volta in Lyrics Poetry

When present, a volta usually serves as a way of changing the focus of the poem, while also providing a sense of closure. The volta can be used to move the poet away from discussing one particular point to another, or to create a sudden, unexpected turn in the poem. In addition, a volta can be used to create a sense of surprise or contrast in the poem. In instances where more than one volta is present in a single poem, the poem is said to be in the ‘double volta’ form.

Examples of a Volta

A famous example of a volta being used in lyric poetry is found in William Shakespeare’s poem, ‘Sonnet 18.’ Written in the Petrarchan form of the sonnet, it begins with a discussion of a woman’s beauty, but with a sudden and unexpected volta at the end of the octave (line 8), the poem then shifts focus to examine how her beauty will survive the ravages of time.
Another example of a volta within the context of lyric poetry can be found in Robert Burns’ famous work, ‘A Red, Red Rose.’ Here, the volta appears in the form of a shift from discussing a woman’s beauty to an expression of the speaker’s deep love and desire for her.

Opportunities and Benefits of Using a Volta in Lyric Poetry

Using a volta in lyric poetry can help a poet to express their feelings and thoughts more effectively and clearly. In addition, by introducing a sudden shift in the content of the poem, a volta can help to add suspense to the work, as well as offering the reader a sense of surprise or contrast. Finally, the volta can be used to clearly delineate the end of one idea or thought and the beginning of another.

Criticism of Using a Volta

Some critics argue that the use of a volta in lyric poetry can also be an overused and clichéd technique. In addition, if not used effectively, it can lead to uninspired and predictable rhyme schemes and often surprising shifts in tone or content. For example, a volta which shifts from talk about love and longing to a discussion of political freedom may seem overly contrived and out of place.

Exploring the Impact of Using a Volta in Lyric Poetry

The impact of using a volta in lyric poetry depends largely on how effectively and creatively it is used. When used judiciously, a volta can be a powerful tool which can help to create a more engaging and effective poem. However, when not used with care, it can produce a clumsy and contrived poem which lacks emotional power.

Understanding and Exploiting the Potential of a Volta

In order to make best use of a volta in lyric poetry, it is important to understand its purpose and how it can be effectively employed. A volta should typically form the climax or pinnacle of the poem, with the focus of the poem changing direction at this point. The sudden change in focus can help to create a sense of surprise, suspense, or contrast, depending on how the change is managed.

Using a Volta for Dramatic Effect

When used for dramatic effect, a volta in lyric poetry can be used to convey the speaker’s sudden realisation or to draw out the emotional significance of a single moment. For example, in the sonnet ‘Shall I Compare Thee,’ by William Shakespeare, the volta appears as the speaker contemplates a more lasting, if less ephemeral, form of remembrance for his beloved other than the poem he writes.

Incorporating a Volta into a Lyric Poem

When incorporating a volta into a lyric poem, the poet should ask themselves why and how does the volta fit into the overall emotion and meaning of the poem. A good use of a volta typically involves a sudden reversal or change of focus in the poem, which helps to draw the reader into a more personal and intuitive journey. This can be difficult to achieve, but the effectiveness of the volta can be seen in the way it helps to elevate the emotion, meaning, and impact of the poem.

Creating an Effective Volta in Lyric Poetry

In order to create an effective volta in lyric poetry, the poet should consider the overall emphasis, spacing, and tone of the poem. It is important to ensure that the volta is used in a thoughtful and meaningful way, and to ensure that it serves to bridge the content in the poem, rather than disrupt it. Additionally, it is worth bearing in mind that the volta should be used sparingly and with discretion, otherwise it risks becoming contrived and overused.

The Role of the Volta in Lyric Poetry in the Digital Age

The role of the volta in lyric poetry has not changed drastically in the digital age, but its use has arguably become more important. Social media, in particular, has seen an explosion in the sharing of lyric poetry, allowing for a wider reach than ever before. As such, a well-placed and effective volta can help to ensure that a poem has the greatest potential to resonate with a wide audience.


In conclusion, the use of a volta in lyric poetry can be a powerful tool which can be used to create a more effective and engaging poem. It is important to use a volta judiciously and with discretion, however, otherwise it can become overused and lose its effectiveness. Additionally, due to the increased reach of lyric poetry in the digital age, the use of a volta has arguably become more important in helping to ensure that a poem has the greatest potential to resonate with a wide audience.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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