As for made up words, all professions seem to have had a need for them as the knowledge in their fields have expanded exponentially, As for some of the silly ones in poetry, well, the look on a child’s face as they discover a new nursery rhyme is justification enough. Some are wisely rejected over time and others kept.
I shall not try to justify the somewhat silly and stupid poetic theories that have been expounded upon in the past. Again all fields of mankind’s knowledge have had their versions of “The world is flat.” Nor shall I try to justify the modern sins of Academia and its love of puzzling obscurity to prove oneself of a higher wit.
I will try to spell out what I believe poetry can do better than prose. Prose is limited to the exact definition of its words. When it varies from this, it enters the gray area of poetic prose.
The phrase, “You can’t get there from here,” usually means that there is no straight road to a destination and that you will have to take a roundabout way. This is one of the attributes of poetry. Emily Dickinson’s advice “to tell it slant” also encompasses this. If you want to get to the other side of the mountain, you will have to go around it, be it north, south, east, or west. If you are at sea and need to refuel or provision you may have to make many stops before your final destination, many of them out of the way.
This is what poetry and especially one of its main tools, metaphor, does. It lets us get across the sea (an idea) by tacking and not sailing straight to our destination, which may be impossible with the resources (words) we have at hand. There are other issues that give reason to taking a curved path for what we have to say. Robert Frost said, “Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another.” In our culture where political correctness is now so important, I believe this may become a more significant attribute unfortunately.
Not least of the differences are how poetry’s other tools, rhythm, rhyme, assonance, alliteration, meter, and other attributes of song can help by adding nuance and feeling to poetry that in prose is sparse or lacking. These can range from gut shot to the primal reflex of having our hair stand on tingling end. Between the two extremes also lie comfort and encouragement and the lesser feelings, like a paper cut, can be difficult to ignore.
Emily Dickinson defines it, “If I read a book (and) it makes my body so cold no fire can ever warm me. I know that is poetry.” If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off. I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way.”
If any person can read all of Shakespeare and the King James Bible or if they are too archaic for their taste, all of Emily Dickinson plus Robert Frost and say they have not been moved, then I will agree that they at least, have no need of poetry.
I still might have to shout and stamp my feet to any prose writer that I meet, that poetry was here first and that’s hard to beat. My attempts to define poetry follow…
the ceremony with which we cope
the chalice from which we sip life
how we express our hope
the sacrament to celebrate our lives
the hymn of the world at prayer
in our dance and crawl
what can and cannot be seen
how we travel through it all
the space in between
the laughter of the world at play
what we can and cannot hear
a fat old bear
an old friend and a beer
kazoo and symphony of our song
the dark and the light
the most elegant choice
the swallow in flight
what speaks for those who have no voice
the singing of the world’s pain
Michael Jordan hanging there
in the execution of the task
when the bells toll
the silence behind the mask
that which touches the soul
Poetry is the difference
Between sum and whole
Essence is in the art
Without skill and genius
One cannot assume
Will come close to capturing
Birds in flight
Until I saw myself reciting
A poem I had written
Nowhere did I see my mind
A glowing mass of molten glass
About this Author
R.R.J.Sebacher - Evil old bear - Poet -
Midwife to the worlds collective unconscious. His short term goal is to write poetry layered like an onion that makes his reader weep in joy or grief. He ultimately wishes to focus the light of poetry so fiercely that it burns through the paper and sets the mind of his reader on fire. He would also like to remember where he left his car keys and his last girl friend. If you know the location of his keys, or wish to contact him for poetic purpose, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org