Poetry opens unique windows on the world

The world of literature records, entertains, challenges, teases the imagination and stretches the intellect. It conveys messages and reflects philosophies.

Much of the knowledge acquired by mankind is stored in the written word or in symbols which translate into this overarching language deployment vehicle.

Many would argue that poetry occupies the pinnacle of literature through sophistication unparalleled in other forms.

Britannica.com contends that poetry is “…literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound and rhythm”.

Many of us were introduced to poetry at a young age through the simple, rhyming prayers we were taught and the nursery rhymes which accompanied our innocent youth. Some would argue that those encounters did much to stimulate and grow our imaginations, and prepare us, in a way, for an appreciation of poetry in adulthood.

Sadly for many, the exposure to poetry through school lessons did little to engender enthusiasm for and understanding of this apex form of literature. A lack of understanding and appreciation became obstacles that mitigated against recognition of its value. It seems that maturity arms students and readers of poetry with the discernment and comprehension to more fully appreciate its magnificence. This opens a window to experiences of literature at its captivating and awe-inspiring best.

The range of poetry types includes sonnets (short rhyming poems), limericks (five-line witty poems with a distinctive rhythm), free verse, epic, elegy and many other forms. The scope for different uses and intentions is vast and the impact of this literary form is unbounded.

Some quotes from famous poets and students of poetry put a perspective on the power of this linguistic art form:

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”— Robert Frost

“Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.” — A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

“Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective mode of saying things.” — Matthew Arnold

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.” — T. S. Eliot

“When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” — John F. Kennedy

Given the extremely disturbing levels of corruption throughout an alarmingly significant proportion of our society, a case can be made for compulsory ‘poetry cleansing’ at all levels.

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