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Considerations about Poetry
article [ Creative ]

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by [Songo ]

2005-08-16  |     | 

What is good poetry and what is bad poetry? As every manifestation of art, it will admit a variety of interpretations about it and many readers - as well as writers - will claim that a text is no good at all, while many others will almost give it a standing ovation.

In this context, there comes to my mind Igor Stravinsky’s debut of "Bird of Fire" in Paris, France on June 25, 1910. Half of the audience loved Igor’s work while the other half frankly hated it. As a consequence a riot took place, destroying the Theater. Igor Stravinsky’s work didn’t go unnoticed.

Going back to poetry, I will point out some elements as well as a brief explanation, which I consider necessary to be present in a poem. The rest is talent as well as subjective views and tastes.

The Elements are:

1. APPEALING IMAGES: The poet must use language as a mean to create powerful images which pierce in the retina and in the memory of the reader.

2. METAPHORE: A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote, in order to suggest a similarity and stimulating reader.

There is nearly endless number of metaphores, and they have been used since the Kenningar passing through Calderón de La Barca and G.K. Chesterton.

Jorge Luis Borges brings us basic examples of metaphores in his Series of Lectures at Harvard University in 1967 and published under the title "This Craft of Verse" (2000).

Since "The Whale Road" to depict the Sea, and the night seen as a "monster made of eyes", our lives as the rivers going to the sea which is death or the Shakespeare`s metaphore that "All the world's a stage" show us how importamt this element is to Poetry.

3. RICH LANGUAGE: The poet within his esthetics, art and poetic creed must delve into the obvious language and transcend it, be the master and get a hold on words. In short, Poets must become Masters in the Happy Mix of complex and plain language so that the poemas reach to all the Readers` Cosmos.

Let us see this example from "The Road not Taken" by Robert Frost

"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;/"

This is a masterful sample of the mix of both rich and plain vocabulary. The excess in the use of sophisticated words can lead to an indigestible text. On the other hand, if you use a very simple language, your literary ability will have to be superb in order to compensate the simplicity in the lexicon.

4. PACE AND RHYTHM: It is not the same than rhyme. It is the Flow that takes the reader to a special trip through words. That makes the reader actually sail through the poem.
This is why it is quite useful for a poet to have a musical background.

5. FEELING: A poem without feeling is an empty shell, too aseptic, like a coffee without caffeine.
Sensitivity leads to the feeling, and even though sensitivity and feeling do not lead by themselves to a True Poet all the times, if you do not have them, you will never be a True Poet.
It’s like playing the "Blues" without having sufferered. It does not have what it takes.

6. A CLEAR IDEA: I have heard and read many young poets - and old ones indeed - mixing words, rhyming like crazy, pouring and stirring images, but I find no sense at all in their Texts. May be I am old fashioned but I think that the Poet must be coherent and consequent to a Bigger Idea of His, written down and spoken out in such Texts.
Thus we can see the Poet’s Evolution and this we know it as Poet`s Own Voice.

7. RHYME: ¿Why Rhyme? I say ¿Why Not Rhyme? And I add, Rhythm and Poetic Measure.

Bécquer, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Antonio Machado on one hand, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, G.K. Chesterton, and many others Great Poets were Masters in Rhyme and Poetic Measure.

There are rules on Measure and Rhyme, we have Sonnets, etc. I consider that even when Structure and Rhyme make the Poets work easier, leaving him only to fill the structure up, the Bard must master all the previous elements in order to full the structure with beauty, but over all with POETRY.

At Free Verse, poet must look for the music and rhythm without the helping structures, that is not easy.

As a conclusion, ALL the elements are necessary, but none of them is written in stone. What does matter is the Beauty, the Esthetics, it does not matter if the style is epic, lyric, transcendental, intimous, etc.


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