What do poems do? What distinguishes lyric poetry from other literary genres, from prose, or from other art forms? What does lyric have to do with emotion, affect, or personal experience? What about politics? Or the mediality, effects, and limitations of language? This introduction explores the variety and history of poetic forms, functions, theories, and practices in the German-speaking world from the 17th century to the present. Beyond those named in the sample reading list, poets may include, among others: F.G. Klopstock, Hölderlin, Gottfried Benn, Hugo Ball, Bertolt Brecht, Eugen Gomringer, Sarah Kirsch, Friederike Mayröcker, Ann Cotten.