The Art of Poetry

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Genesis 1 states that at the dawn of time, God created the heavens and the earth and said, "Let there be light."  With those four words, the world began and since then we have sought to portray the world with our words.  Through tangible words we can express and interpret the intangible.  One of the most common and beautiful ways of doing so is through the art of poetry.  This form of writing has striven to capture the essence of the relationship between reality and the unknown.  Poetry Magic defines this means of artistic expression as, "a responsible attempt to understand the world in human terms through literary composition."  In an effort to better understand life, poets have continued this emotionally arousing form of writing, which truly can express philosophy and highlight views of the world.

Writing poetry takes the ability to pluck details from the garden of the world and plant them into our own creations, seeing things more clearly and acknowledging beauty.  Moreover, it is a means of communicating how we feel, a struggle to relate to the world we can only imagine.  Modern poet Timothy Green says, "...poetry—as an activity, as a mindset—is central to all that is important.  The pursuit of poetry is the distillation of that critical Why—it's what we live for, what can makes us bear anyhow." (www.timothy-green.org)  Empathetically, the poet can tap into the medium of words and cause a connection between his doubts and his beliefs, himself and the audience and what is real with what is uncertain.

Since the beginning, men have sought to answer the question "Who am I?" or "What is my purpose?"  Many have tried to express themselves through their poetry.  For example, one of the oldest surviving poems is the Epic of Gilgamesh.  Remember that story about the brawny and brazen king who believed he was entitled to anything and everything in his kingdom?  Well, the story of Gilgamesh not only told the tale of a daring hero but also established the Sumerian views on mythology and purpose.    Just think about it...even the first poem ever written was one that strove to "understand the world in human terms."  Many centuries later, poetry is still seeking after that same goal.  Poetry has always been a mirror that reflects on how we think and feel — both in terms of the poet and the reader.

One of the most well loved poems of modern literature, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is a prime example of this concept.  Frost writes,
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth...
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages since
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I - 
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference."
This poem is one sprinkled with nostalgia and also advice and caution to the reader.  This analogy to arriving at a crossroad in life alludes to the fact that this is a defining, irreversible moment, a decision that will have significant implications.  In the end, taking "the road less traveled by" has "made all the difference."  This poem is infused with remorse and yet hope and it provides the theme of carpe diem (seize the day!)  Evidently, Frost's personal opinions are seeping through in an attempt to express his views of life.

Today, poetry is still an attempt to paint the world the way our hearts see it.  The beauty of this art is that it stretches our imaginations and fuels creativity to help us encounter artistic expression.  Eloquently, it unleashes a new reality and prepares our minds to engage the world.  Through sharing ideas and expanding the horizon of knowledge, poetry still breathes life and meaning into the burning power of words.  It tangibly expresses the intangible.

And so...words brought us into this earth and words are what we leave behind as our small imprint on the lives of others.

What are your thoughts on poetry?  What are your favorite poems?


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