I love the idea of poetry – I really do. The weaving together of words in a special way to express something that cannot truly be communicated using prose alone. It’s uniquely human and a very romantic idea. In literature, the poet is always the most sensitive and the most thoughtful of them all. They see deeper into people’s souls and observe more than anyone else.
The problem is that I just don’t enjoy reading the stuff. I’ve tried. I only like poetry when it’s telling a story. I’ve read “Paradise Lost”, “The Divine Comedy”, “The Illiad”, and “The Odyssey”. But it wasn’t the poetry that appealed to me – just the story. I’ve always been flummoxed by “pure poetry”. Mind you, I understand the concept. It’s just that my ideals don’t translate into capability! My spirit is willing and my flesh is uncooperative :)
Having said that, there are a few nice phrases in poetry that I like. For example:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This is the verse you grave for me: ‘Here he lies where he longed to be;
Here is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.’
-Robert Louis Stevenson
I also enjoy reading Omar Khayyam particularly the Fitzgerald translation. Both of these have the themes of death and life. They’re also both very direct in their expression and get straight to the point. In addition, they rhyme. So these seem to be the necessary prerequisites for me to enjoy poetry:
1. Has to either tell a story, or deal with interesting issues. No flowers or anything
2. Needs to be direct – almost in prose, without a need to decipher the words
3. Must rhyme
So much of good poetry falls outside these three parameters of mine. I know many bloggers who write poetry and I just can’t get through it no matter how much I try. This is clearly a failing on my part and I wish I was less banal in these matters. But there it is!