A short history of World Literature

(an engineer's perspective)

Poetry

In the beginning, there was no written word. Everything had to be remembered—or be forgotten. Those who wanted their words remembered, organized them in verse form, with fixed rhythm and rhyme patterns. This made them easier to remember—and harder to modify.

Plays

Later, the technology of writing was there; but the general audience couldn't afford books, and couldn't read. So Shakespeare used writing to conserve his text, but had it performed on stage for distribution to its final audience. The metric form was still there—not to conserve the text, but to help the actors remember it throughout the performance.

Books

Now that we have books, there's no need to write poetry, nor perform plays. If, for whatever reason, someone still wants to write poetry, there's no use bothering with a metric form.