My Thoughts on Poetry

20 Sep

So, I wrote this a long time ago. Like, four years. It’s still kind of true. I found it the other day and decided to repost it.

In case you don’t know by now, I don’t like poetry. There, I said it out loud. I don’t like poetry. I never have liked it, and there’s a good chance I never will. I’m getting set in my ways in my old age. I know I’m probably going to be struck by lightning now, so don’t stand too close. I know poetry is supposed to be this transcendental experience, something that you read and enjoy to sort of mellow out and escape from the world. But I just don’t get it. I don’t understand what makes poetry so special. Sure, it’s quite an accomplishment if you can get your poems to rhyme, but even then it can sound cheesy. But then there are the poems that are sort of free verse; when you read them they sound like a narrative and they might as well have been a short story. There are poems with precise structure that I feel is way too complicated and over-thought; still others seem so shapeless that they appear as words strung together that just happen to fit. Some poetry is littered with deep, complicated meanings, while others you just take at face value. Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m a fairly shallow person, but at the same time I want to read something a little more complicated than Dr. Seuss. So what’s the big deal about poetry? I don’t understand it, but I want to. I’m jealous of people who find meaning in words I find meaningless.

Reading one hundred pages of poetry over a school holiday is not my idea of vacation. In fact, for the most part I chose not to do the assignment – not because I forgot, but because I simply dismissed it as a waste of my time. However, I found it within myself to sit down and attempt to read some poetry. I chose a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets that I received for Valentine’s Day from someone very special (who, coincidentally, is not so very special anymore) who knows that this belongs in the rare category of Poetry That Laura Likes. I read maybe twenty of the sonnets, always going back to my favorite one, number 148. No matter how many sonnets I read, I still can’t get past this one. It is and always will be my favorite. It’s a simple sonnet about that age-old poetry topic: love. It goes a litte deeper than that, though (but not too deep – rememver who’s writing), and specifically talks about how love keeps a person blind. Sure, it’s clilché to say that love is blind, but it is true. This sonnet reminds me of my favorite quote, from Antione de Saint-Exupèry’s classic story The Little Prince: “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux,” which means “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Shakespeare obviously understood this basic principle of love, and that is why I love this sonnet.

Sonnet 148
William Shakespeare

O me! what eyes hath Love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight;
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the word to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love’s eye is not so true as all men’s: no.
How can it? O, how can Love’s eye be true.
That is so vex’d with watching and with tears?
No marvel then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
   O cunning Love! with tears thou keep’st me blind,
   Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.

I would be open to hearing your thoughts on poetry, how it makes you feel, your relationship with it. Maybe, with some practice, I will come to like it again.

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2 Responses to “My Thoughts on Poetry”

  1. Poppy Poems 20 September, 2008 at 7:49 pm #

    Plath’s letters are extremely scarce and sought after for their insights into her short life. Poppy Poems

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  1. Marvel - 20 September, 2008

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