Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What is Poetry?

     My dear husband picked up a 9th edition of Perrine's Sound and Sense, revised by Thomas R. Arp at our local thrift store dive.  This book is divided in two parts.  The first: The Elements of Poetry, and the 2nd part: Poems for Further Reading.  What I like about this book is the variety and types of poetry both analyzed and recorded for pure reading pleasure!  For each genre of poetry, there are fit examples and questions asked of the reader about the poem.  Also, unfamiliar or archaic words are noted so one can look them up!  I feel as if I have found a gem!  I love poetry, read it, write it for years.... but yet, there is a treasure trove waiting out there!  I thought of finding some college or on-line poetry course.  But, to find the time!  Sigh!  Alas, not!  This book literally fell into our hands and I am ever so grateful for it!

     Back to my question, what is poetry?  I hearken to Perrine, "Poetry might be defined as a kind of language that says more and says it more intensely than does ordinary language." The concern of poetry is primarily with experience. Poets select, combine and reorganize from their own store of felt, observed or imagined experience.  This is turn creates new experiences for the reader - sharpened, focused and formed. It allows for a greater awareness to know the experience of others, and to understand our own experience better.

     How does poetry, then, relate to real life?  I say, experience!!!  In the space of a day, you can experience beauty and ugliness, clean and dirty, strange and commonplace, good and bad - even real and fantasy!  To make sense of this, one can transmit these feelings through the medium of art.  Even the painful and strange appear beautiful in art!  So, Perrine's sentiments match my own!

     I leave you with a poem.  Not my own, for I could scarce compare them to the greats!  I will in future as rusty pen becomes more fluid.  But, here is one from John Donne:

The Computation 

For the first twenty years since yesterday
I scarce believed thou couldst be gone away;
For forty more I fed on favors past,
And forty on hopes that thou wouldst they might last.
Tears drowned one hundred, and sighs blew out two;
A thousand, I did neither think nor do,
Or not divide, all being one thought of you.
Or, in a thousand more, forgot that too.
Yet call not this long life; but think that I
Am, by being dead, immortal. Can ghosts die?    

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