ARCHAISM (IN POETRY):
One organism in society, breathing as government and growing as virus, able to crystallise and to revivify, is language. It is, perhaps, one of the greatest distinctions, which make the human race different, distinct and disparate from animals. It is however, a creation that can live and die, although it can be as immortal as gods; and, gods die if their followers fail to worship them properly. It therefore can grow old and give birth to offspring. A result of ageing is archaism.
Archaism is a word that is old, or will soon become outdated and is, as a result of ageing, no longer in use. In every language still spoken by man, there are certain words that are old and sound very ancient, or even totally strange, to the native speakers of the language. There are other words that are not absolutely 'obsolete', but are quickly falling out of use. Words like these are all archaic words. An example in English is 'ye' which is the second-person, plural pronoun, 'you' in dialect form. It is however old, and can be found in few texts like the King James Version of the Bible.
However, poetry performs the miracle of embalming most of these words to prevent their decay. Whereas some words are beyond the embalmer (words found in Old English and Middle English, such as sargung, slyver, dore, con etc., and are both strange to native speakers today as much as they are totally aliens to non-native speakers), some are very well embalmed. Some of these words have, however, changed in meaning so totally that if they are used today as in those days, the interlocutors will be lost. Nevertheless, poetry preserves a considerable quantity of these words. Most poets use these words, giving the poems special touches, as do imagery, allusion, rhyme, rhythm, rhetoric devices, etc.
In literature, therefore, archaism is the use of archaic words of a language in a piece of writing. In today's literary texts, the most frequently used words are the second person, singular pronouns 'thou' and 'thee'; and their possessives 'thy' and 'thine'.
Importance of Archaism
Even native speakers of the language love to read archaic words in poems. Archaism gives the value that scarce commodities (which are as well opulent) have to poems. People give more regard to these words when they are found in texts because it takes them back to some years ago, relaying the beauty in the expressions of the ancient; and, in addition, because these words show some significant degree of knowledge of a particular language if they are properly used. They are also used to mark grammatical differences (like plurality of second person pronouns, third person verbal inflections, etc.) that are not mark in the present lexicons of a language.
Some Usage of Archaisms
Some of these archaic words like thou, thee, ye, thy, thine, thyself, mine, and the suffixes marking inflections in verbs and their uses are outlined here.
THOU: This is second-person singular, nominative (subjective) pronoun.
THEE: This is singular, objective (accusative and dative) second pronoun.
THY: This is singular, possessive (genitive) adjective. It is used before words that start with consonant letters only (with the exception of 'h').
THINE: This is singular, possessive (genitive) adjective. It is used before words that start with vowels and 'h'.
THYSELF: This is singular, emphatic and reflexive pronoun.
MINE: This is first-person singular possessive (genitive) pronoun which is used before words starting in vowel letters and 'h'.
YE: This is second-person plural, nominative (subjective) pronoun.
YE: This is a determiner meaning 'the', and is commonly used in names of pubs, shops, to make them seem old.
-EST: This is second-person, singular, present tense marker in verbs, e.g. thou makest, thou tellest, etc.
-ETH: This is third-person, singular, present tense marker in verbs, e.g. he maketh, the crown telleth, etc.
DOST: This is second-person, singular, simple present tense, e.g. Sun, thou dost rise every morn.
DOEST: This is second-person, singular, subjunctive present tense, e.g. If thou wilt plead, thou doest well.
WILT: This is second-person, singular present tense meaning 'will'.
Recognising Other Archaic Words in the English Dictionaries
Many other words are archaic and are found in the dictionary today. Any dictionary for advanced learners will indicate these words as archaic by using either of these tags before their meanings: 'old use' or 'old-fashioned'. Look up 'bedchamber', 'blackguard', 'fie', 'faery', 'phantasy', 'alehouse', 'corker', etc. in standard dictionaries to find the tags and their various meanings.