First of all, what is poetry? Poetry is language that is deeply felt and deeply moving, written or spoken in a special form. The rhythm of a poem is what makes it different from prose.
From this we can get an idea of how poetry began. Of course, we can never know who first created it or where. But because we know something of the way primitive people acted, we can guess at the beginnings of poetry.
Man had some sort of rhythmic dance even before he had a language. He made sounds and gestures and grunts and cries at special times, such as before a battle or a hunt. Also, he created a drum on which he could beat in many ways. And soon he was using sounds and the drums to send magic words to his gods.
Primitive man then began to develop the dance, and it became more and more complicated as it advanced. Soon the words of the chant to the gods became more important than just sounds from the drum. The words could be understood. In time, the leading performer of such a ceremony was actually a kind of poet, or bard.
At the same time, over thousands of years, man was influenced by rhythms he saw everywhere about him-in the sound of water, winds, in the flight of birds, in the rhythmic movements of animals. In trying to imitate some of the rhythms, he was using a kind of poetic imagination.
Then, but still centuries ago, these dances, chants, and incantations reached a point where men kept a record of them. They were handed down from generation to generation, and they were a form of poetry.
By the time of the greeks, during the fifth century bc, poetry was being written especially for certain occasions, but it was still performed with music and dance. Later on, a type of poetry was developed by the greeks that told stories of heroic events or described the lives of various types of people.