Approaching Poetry ~~
JOHNSON (from Preface to Shakespeare):
"The end of writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct by
(from Preface to Lyrical Ballads):
"Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its
origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated
till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an
emotion, kindred to that which was the subject of contemplation, is gradually
produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind."
"A poem begins
with a lump in the throat, a home-sickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching-out
toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where
the emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words."
an ancient art or technology: older than the computer, older than print, older
than writing and indeed, though some may find this surprising, much older than
prose. I presume that the technology of poetry, using the human body as its
medium, evolved for specific uses; to hold things in memory, both within and
beyond the individual life span; to achieve intensity and sensuous appeal; to
express feelings and ideas rapidly and memorably. To share those feelings and
ideas with companions, and also with the dead and with those to come after us."
(A journalist/poet from Rochester, NY)
A piece of writing
is poetic when it:
4. Cracks the whip
5. Has an undefinable "woo woo" quality
6. Recreates the early childhood pleasures of moon, Mom, and mud
7. Forces an epiphany
8. Imitates nature
9. Contains the music of plain speech
10. Marries sound and meaning
11. Just sounds good
12. Shatters self-important, secluded views of the world
13. Snaps you into a different state of mind
14. Sets off your indicator lights
15. Is the exact opposite of a gazebungle
16. Connects the reader with an interior "otherness," sort of like
17. Brings the whole soul of man into activity
18. Offers the most accurate possible symbolic image of objects which when they
are actually seen cause distress (corpses, worms, etc.)
19. Instructs by pleasing
20. Proposes pleasure, not truth, as the immediate object of attention
21. Creates a sort of religious feeling
22. Is nothing else, so is poetic by default
23. Remembers things silently gone out of mind
24. Induces movement by precise expression
25. Transforms contemplated emotion into actual, felt emotion
26. Breathes the finer spirit of all knowledge
27. Looks before and after
28. Sees relationships and love everywhere
29. Binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society
30. Feels as if it was always intended to be written as a poem and does not
feel like prose in drag
31. Achieves a certain level of song that exceeds the limits of human language
32. Causes a crackling blue spark to arc from the page to the reader's mind
33. Purges pity and terror
34. Ritualistically recalls horrible memories in loving detail
35. Is news that stays news
36. Hits you with a brick
37. Lives beautifully for a moment and then dies
38. Burns for the joy of it
39. Rings your bell
40. Lifts you off
Also see "Poetry
and Pleasure" by Doug McGill.
BRYANT H. McGILL
(from Preface to Existence)
"Good poetry does not exist merely for the sake of itself, but rather,
is a byproduct of yearning and growth; great poetry canonizes that yearning
for the growth of others."
(sent in by S. Hernandez, Sierra Vista, AZ)
"Introduction To Poetry"
I ask them to take
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear
against its hive.
I say drop a mouse
into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside
the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,
As old medallions to the thumb,
as he sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown-
poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds
poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,
Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,
as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind-
poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
poem should be equal to:
all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea-
poem should not mean
Main Entry: po.et.ry
Date: 14th century
1 (a) metrical writing; verse (b) the productions of a poet; poems
2 writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience
in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through
meaning, sound and rhythm
3 (a) something likened to poetry especially in beauty of expression (b) poetic
quality or aspect
DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH
· "poem" noun [C]
a piece of writing in which the words are chosen for their sound and the images
and ideas they suggest, not just their obvious meaning. The words are arranged
in separate lines, often ending in rhyme.
has poetry, it is very beautiful or expressive.
This film has a savage poetry and brilliance.
The young gymnast's moves were poetry in motion.
ASK OXFORD at
Definitions from the Oxford Paperback Dictionary and Thesaurus and the Little
Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
1 emotive, flowery, imaginative, lyrial, metrical, musical.
/"p:m/ noun 1 metrical composition. 2 elevated composition
in verse or prose. 3 something with poetic qualities
eclogue (short, pastoral poem), elegy, epic, haiku, lay, limerick, lyric, ode,
pastoral, rhyme, sonnet, verse.
3 poetic or tenderly pleasing quality.
/"lrk/ adjective 1 (of poetry) expressing writer's emotion, usually
briefly. 2 (of poet) writing in this way. 3 meant or fit to be
Noun 1 lyric poem. 2 (in plural) words of song.
Adjective 1 lyric. 2 resembling, or using language appropriate
to, lyric poetry. 3 colloquial highly enthusiastic.
expressive, impassioned, inspired, melodious, musical, poetic, rapturous, rhapsodic,
sweet, tuneful. 3 emotional, enthusiastic, impassioned, rapturous, rhapsodic.