While not all people find poetry to be something they’re intimately familiar with, it’s actually something we all love deep inside; we just aren’t aware of it. Unfortunately, as we grow older and grow up, for most people this love fades. Remember how you listened to more new music when you were a teenager, but then you stopped caring about keeping up with new stuff as time went on?
As our daily lives begin to take precedent over our interests and hobbies, language stops being something that’s fancifully examined; it ends up being just practical. Words stop entertaining us and start being nothing more than the tools that we use for communication. But while the practicalities of language are obvious for any human civilization – poetry still has the power to change and inspire. It lets us take a peek beyond the limits of the imminently practical; letting us see that language is an art in and of itself. And that’s precisely what we’re going to examine here today!
Playing With Poetry
If you take a look at any of the influential poets across all eras, you’ll notice something – they love playing with their languages. The basic starting point for poetry has remained pretty much the same throughout the ages – rhyming. And finding two sentences that can be a logical whole, while also rhyming, is a great feeling that gets people started on the road to poetry. Connecting words in a sensible but simultaneously playful way allow our brain to connect ideas better as well; allowing us to become better artists and thinkers in the process.
And one often disregarded part of poetry is the fact that it enriches our language as well. Not our vocabulary, though it manages that as well, but our language as a whole. When we write poetry, we begin adding entirely new phrases and words to our language. Shakespeare is the most famous example of this, as he added thousands of words to the English language. Though he probably only codified and wrote down words that were already used in colloquial speech, the contribution is there nonetheless. Lewis Carroll was also known to add words that were considered to be “nonsense” to his poems, but that didn’t make them any less beautiful and meaningful.
Poetry Means Music
In language, poetry is basically music. Remember the nonsensical words of Lewis Carroll’s poems that we’ve described above? These do not exist without any meaning, even if we can’t verbalize it precisely. Their true worth is in the sounds that they represent, and in the sounds that we exhibit while reciting the poem. Even without music, poetry is not merely spoken; because of the naturally different cadence in the different verses, we can definitely say that it’s actually sung. Sure, some poems have a naturally musical ring to them; the more they rhyme, the more this is true. But just because a poem is not heavy on rhymed verses doesn’t mean that it’s not musical.
You’ll hear many writers say that they spend most of their writing time on rewriting their existing texts, and bringing them to perfection. If that’s true for prose, and it is – we can safely say that it’s doubly true when it comes to poetry. In fact, the shorter an influential song is, the longer it probably took to write it. Poets may need a lot of time to find the precisely perfect word when they want to accurately express their feelings. It could take days, or it could take months. A good example of this is Ezra Pound. One of his poems about a metro station has just 15 words – and yet it took him an entire year to bring it to a close!
Poetry teaches you to be more patient, both through reading and through writing it. Depending on your reading disposition, it could take many repeated readings to make a particular poem sink in perfectly. One of the famously tough forms to truly understand is haiku. Such shorter forms of poetry allow us to mentally slow down our thought process as well, and let us experience and savor every word.
So far, we’ve talked about how poetry shows us that language is not just practical, but beautiful as well. However, we must not disregard the fact that it can be both simultaneously. And the more you dig into the roots of human poetry, the more you see its practical efficiency. Remember — language is older than the written word. And before any kind of writing existed, ancient cultures found uses in poetry as a memory retention tool. Through poems, both Egyptians and Greeks constantly saved their religion, philosophy, oral history, and science.
Think about it – memorizing songs is far easier than learning text in prose. That’s why people used it to safeguard information and pass it on to new generations. It’s handy for learning and teaching children as well because everything is more fun and accessible when presented as a song. In fact, written language was once such a novelty compared to learning verbal poems that Plato famously said that writing was the bad new technology. According to him, it rendered children’s minds weaker because they were less ready to remember facts on their own. While this claim may seem ludicrous today, it does a lot to show us the power of rhymed words and poetry.
At the end of the day, poetry is art. And the point of art is to allow us to express our innermost feelings and thoughts – allowing us to show our true colors and voice. Poetry is a fine way of gathering your hazy thoughts. In the realm of poetry, nothing is wrong and nothing is right. There is only one cardinal rule you must follow – whatever you write, you must be satisfied with it and it needs to make you happy. Even if you’re writing about something depressing, letting it all out in the form of a poem may be just what you need! And if you’re happy and want to express that, this is an equally adequate form of writing.
About the author. Maria Foster is a poet, a writer, and a full-time RVer. Loves fishing with her four-legged friend. She grew up in Alberta with her parents and decided to start RVing through Europe 2 years ago. Maria dreams of moving to India and wants to spend at least a few years there.