Poetry is an art form which is intimately connected to music. Art songs, operas, and oratorios rely on poetry to convey meaning through words. I am an avid reader of poetry and amateur poet. In this vein, I have decided to take up a Poetry Challenge which will involve some blogging about different aspects of poetry, and my own writing as well, hopefully introducing this lovely art form to a wider interest. Although this is a music blog, I hope that poetry’s close kinship to music warrants such a large non-music project being posted here. Without further ado, here is my contribution to Day 1!
Day 1: Intro
Have you ever been mesmerized by a gently falling leaf on an autumn day? Stopped to contemplate a beautiful sunset? Felt sorrow because of a parting from a loved one? Been transported to stories and worlds of your own imagination? These sensations, and more are captured in the literary art form called poetry.
What is poetry? Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines poetry as “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through its meaning, sound, and rhythm.” As you can see, poetry is much more than lines of words which happen to rhyme at the end.
Let’s take this definition apart. There are many aspects of poetry mentioned in this definition:
- Poetry is a form of writing. (obvious, but essential). It is one of the highest forms of creative expression, revered throughout the ages as a medium for great ideas, beautiful images, and creative expression.
- Poetry is concentrated experience. It is distilled from what the poet has seen, heard, read, or imaginged – all part of his or her imaginative awareness of experience. It may tell a story, paint a picture, or evoke a feeling in the reader.
- Poetry is carefully crafted from language. The right word, the right arrangement of words – these are all matters which have to be carefully selected, as a painter selects colors for a painting or as a composer arranges a piece.
- Poetry has a goal of evoking a specific emotional response in the reader. This hearkens back to the second point – the poet is projecting his or her concentrated experience onto the reader through the poem.
- Lastly, poetry has meaning, sound, and rhythm. The meaning within each poem is conveyed through stylistic techniques such as symbolism, hyperbole, and irony. More on these big words later. Notice how the elements most people associate with poetry, sound and rhythm, are only one of many characteristics of poetry.
Next up… A discussion of metre in poetry, which parallels rhythm and metre in music!