Illuminating. Wise and adventurous. These are just a few words to describe poetry’s potential. But there’s a problem. Part, the larger part, of society is poetry-blind due to lack of familiarity with modern verse. If only poetry had a wider platform, as much as other genres, it would enjoy popularity.
The works of those poets of old sound stuffy to many young ears. It’s mostly as you age you might appreciate them. And of course, you must be exposed to them before you can judge them with any wisdom. If you never read or hear poetry, you’re hardly likely to take it to your bosom.
Then there are modern poems, which actually mean far more than many well-known verses. When I say modern, I mean those written over the last fifty years or so. Many poets became more courageous with time. They delved deep into the psyche and life to dredge up untold truths.
And herein lies the true value of poems: They say things people usually find unspeakable, or, at least, hard to express. It’s not always easy to find the right place to include gems of emotional knowledge in factual work. Poetry, however, makes room for humanity’s hidden depths, those topics less-discussed, but which add meaning and understanding.
Poetry, too, has the power to make individuals feel less lonely. When you read about someone’s angst, and it echoes your own, you’re no longer an alien without friends. You’re acceptable, normal even. Before you read and connected with a poem, though, you felt sure you were the only one to feel as you did. An outcast. A weirdo.
Then, through poems, you learn everyone, the poets, are full of worries, fears, love, and passion, just like you. Your daily life is fraught with illusions. You keep a stiff upper lip. Hide who you are on the inside for fear of rejection.
Poetry comes along and frees you to be yourself because it shows you it’s okay. Other people, you discover, ponder the nature of the universe, fear death, or hurt on the inside where nobody else can see their anxiety.
It’s true, also, that poems can transport you to other worlds. They pick you up and zap you to a beautiful meadow, down to a babbling brook, or into a woodland. Nature comes to you. It visits with keen hands ready to scoop you in and make you part of something more magical than life was before you opened a book.
We read plenty of articles about self-help, productivity, and health. But we don’t necessarily recognize poetry contains much of the wellbeing data we seek. We might Google “how to cope with lost love?” And “why do I feel the way I do?” And we find a few educated and uneducated answers. But nothing’s really satisfactory because it doesn’t reach out from the computer screen and hold us tight, making us bigger and braver. It often can’t reach out to us because it isn’t written in the language of poets.
A poet’s language, although often considered florid by those not in the know, is sprinkled with metaphors; stories that reflect emotions and experiences in ways no other form of literature can copy.
The ability to respond to poetic stories is embedded in the psyche. Stories are music to our hearts when laced with different methods of describing events and feelings. Human language doesn’t always express what we are and how we feel. But, when formed in poetic sentences, it lets us glimpse what we have no words, delivered in the usual way, to express.
Poetry is healing too, if you discover the right verse at the right time. If you want a voice because yours has dried, or evidence of life after pain, poetry can deliver. It provides more than a band-aid because it holds your pain up to the sunlight where you, at last, experience warmth.
Poetry is far from dead. But it is often unseen. It’s not highly valued because of old prejudices about its relevance and depth. And this is odd because it often goes deeper than other prose. Unless you pick up a poetry book, though, or seek poems online, you’ll never know what it offers.
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