“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: It takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquility.” -William Wordsworth.
The very nature of poetry makes it nearly impossible to define or label it. If we go onto the technicalities, poetry may generally be defined as an imaginative experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language choices so as to evoke an emotional response.
What is Poetry?
Poetry has been defined as the art of ‘ Saying the Unsayable.’ Poems often have hidden meanings and depth. Therefore, unlocking the multi-layered meanings requires patience and skill. Metaphorically speaking, a poem is like looking at a glass mirror, where everyone sees his or her own reflection. Now, one’s perspective may vary from the other or may as well be unanimous with the other. Some might see it as an emotional vent out a sonnet, while others might perceive it as an Elegy. Generally speaking, poems are short, contain figures of speech, poetic devices, and a bucket full of emotions be it love, sorrow, or agony! Poetry is a chiseled marble of language. It communicates through words that are used to express the feelings of the poet. Just to give it a more clear perspective, Poems work like music, but instead of sound and rhythm created by instruments, they use the sound and rhythm of words.
Different poets have different meanings, different outlooks, for that matter even different emotional aspects while penning down a poem. Some might portray love and agony at the same time while some might emphasize the life and works of a heroic or mythological figure. For some, it might be a Ballad of ecstasy, with a simple plot and language, while for some it will be Lyrical poetry dealing with the poet’s own feelings, states of mind, and perceptions. They usually try and squeeze the maximum meaning and feeling into a restricted number of lines, i.e a POEM. By molding a persona, the poet visualizes what it is like to enter someone else’s personality.
Wordsworth defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of emotions”
Dickinson said “ If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. ”
While poets like, Wordsworth and Dickinson laid emphasis on the emotion being portrayed in poetry, T. S Eliot, on the other hand, totally ruled out the importance of emotions or feelings or the fact of all that was personal in poetry. According to him, “ Poetry is not turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. ”
Understanding Poetry a little better
A poem’s length may range from the three-line poem like the Japanese haiku; to the book-length poem like the epic. Speaking of its origin, it is believed that poetry as an art form predates the era before man started putting his words into writing. Many ancient works, from the Indian Vedas and Zoroaster’s Gathas to the Oddessey, appear to have been composed in the poetic form to aid memorization and oral transmission. Poetry may be Narrative telling us a story in the form of a Ballad – a short story in verse which was originally meant to be sung having a simple plot, and often incorporated a refrain or a repeated chorus; or in the form of an Epic – which describes the life and work of a muse/heroic character in highly poetic language and a continuous lengthy form.
Poetry may also be lyrically dealing with the poet’s own emotions, feelings at a particular moment, and reflecting his or her states of mind and perceptions. Many poems are written in the lyrical form with themes such as war and peace, nature and nostalgia, grief, and loss along with love being one of the major themes of lyrical poetry.
Lyrical poetry may be an Elegy – mournful and melancholic, sometimes reflecting something strange or mysterious; or an Ode – a serious long poem usually being addressed to a person or thing, often commemorating some important event; or a Sonnet – a poem of fourteen lines, commonly about love; or maybe a Dramatic poem – having drama written in verse.
How Poetry reflects over our lives?
Have you ever wondered why are you feeling or thinking a certain way? Or felt out place? Or felt like miscommunication and misunderstandings have taken place in your relationships? The answer to these questions might surely be a big YES!
Reading and writing poetry has a huge impact on our lives. Poetry not only helps us calm our mind and soul but also gives life a different perspective towards life. The impact of poetry can be different for everyone because each person has a different perspective and different way of absorbing certain things.
To some, poetry might just take you down the memory lane which you would want to relive; while to others it might just be a reminder of unpleasant memories.
Poetry is something so strong that gives a vivid description with minute details. It is those hidden meanings in between the rendering words by the poet that help us understand emotions better. Be it Rabindranath Tagore’s, ‘ Where the mind is without fear,’ that helps instill a feeling of fearlessness among its countrymen or Elizabeth Barret Browning’s, ‘ If thou must love me,’ which describes the kind of love she wants and the insecurities that she would meet after a certain age, each poem has a different perspective, a different motive along with a different attachment to the poet. Poetry might be an emotional burst out, to which some people will relate to in a positive way, while others in a negative way. Poetry is a genre that makes us understand the reality of life, through ironies, metaphors, and personifications.
Sometimes poetry can be an escape from the bitter realities. It has the ability to create an aura among us and take us to a whole new world, where the sufferings and pain of life never existed. Poetry is an art form that is highly appreciated, but very few know what an impact it has if one tries to get into its depth. In today’s tech-savvy world, the true meaning of poetry seems to be lost. Poetry not only portrays emotions but also reflects on the culture and customs of a particular society, ‘In the Bazaars of Hyderabad,’ is a perfect example of a portrayal of the ideas and social belief for a particular set of people or society. Poetry can convey social causes, emotional aspects, worldwide problems, the sufferings around, as well as a person’s state of mind. It is up to the readers how they perceive every poem, and what kind of impact do they want to have over them via poetry.
To sum it all, Poetry is a means to communicate and vent; there are some lines in a poem that resonates a part of you and now this particular line is yours. So the next time when you are facing hardships or just feeling the way you should, you recall this line and there, you are good to go.
Like any other literary art, poetry is conceived out of life, belongs to life, and exists for life!