The need for poetry

In the world of labelling and naming, words have meanings and definition. They are consolidated and purposeful, resolute and practical, useful and easy to understand. But in the world of poetry, words are used to challenge all our assumptions, ideas and purposefulness so that we may be plunged into the forgotten waters of our own souls.

How often do we visit the realm of the unnameable, the ineffable, the essence behind meanings and the ground of our own selves? Music gets there. Silence gets there. Nature upholds it. Poetry allows it.

Consider the following:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.

Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds…

The poet (Shakespeare, Sonnet 118), points to the word ‘love’ but immediately takes away its authority as a word because the word has no real meaning without its essence – which is its unchanging ability to remain as something that cannot be altered. So the incongruous contradiction ‘love is not love’ is completely allowed and permissible because the poet is pointing to a depth in meaning that is often overlooked when the word ‘love’ is used in conventional terms (if there are, indeed, conventional ways to use the word ‘love’).

Or consider Emily Dickinson’s:

I’m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody too?

Using language to break the formalities of language to pieces by denying the naming and identification of a ‘person’.

So sensitive souls need poetry as much as plants need sunlight. Because language is far too structured in syntax and meaning, and its frailty is exposed through poetry alone. And maybe silence, if we can manage it.

 

 

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