Some thoughts on poetry.

To me, poetry is a very intimate endeavor.  I write to capture images of moments real and imagined, or to exorcise overwhelming emotion.   Very often my inspiration is visual, a happening scene that evokes concepts and ideas which demand utterance.
A poem, thus, is a way of capturing and communicating something, and evoking the emotional character of that something.    The use of language in a poem is evocation,  a summoning of the final place the poet wishes to leave the reader.    Prose, by contrast, is intended to be communicative, to give the reader a clear view and path to the intended destination.   Prose demands an agreement on the nature of meaning, on words meaning what they say, on orderly progression through the writing.     Poetry, by contrast, uses the meanings of words and the progression of lines as a kind of backlighting, a way of illuminating rather than describing.

A poem currently on my mind.

I encountered a quote from this recently – a few lines of the last stanza,  and was so star struck that I had to find the whole work.   It’s a fine read,  and worth memorizing.   I’ve taken a great deal of comfort and insight from reflecting on it.

The Old Astronomer to his Pupil –  Sarah Williams, 1868

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles!

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.