Apart from composing poetry poets have tried to define poetry. There are myriad explanations, but none could capture the essence of this art in entirety. Just like this universe and our existence, we have always struggled to find purpose and meaning of life. A poet starts composing under different circumstances- sometimes it is euphoric love and passion or intense grief and failure. Nature and spirituality have inspired many poets too.
When we speak of poetry and its cadence, we also speak of technicalities of metre, rhyme, metaphor, syllable, alliteration, etc. Even the genres like blank verse, ballads, epic poems, hymns, and even lyrics to name a few.
What I want to emphasize here is that all the definitions of poetry by eminent poets are true individually, but cannot define this art or its reason completely. I think poetic compositions are so expansive and deeply personal that it is impossible to know the true reason for composing one. One incident can initiate the intense passion to compose but the ensuing journey becomes much more of a seeking.
Some of the interesting quotes about poetry by eminent poets are-
‘Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people.’
Adrian Mitchell (English poet, novelist and playwright)
‘Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth.’
Philip Larkin (English poet, novelist and librarian)
‘Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.’
William Wordsworth (major English Romantic poet)
‘Well, write poetry, for God’s sake, it’s the only thing that matters.’ e. e. cummings (American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright)
Whatever the reason for writing poetry, it will beyond any conventional definition. This art form gets it resilience, courage, and insanity (of a creative kind) from the very personal passion that forces the pen to compose. Ink is never unworthy! For a poet, it is the elixir and also the life’s essential stream that allows the feelings to flow.
As for the readers of poetry, if they seriously want to read it, one has to understand the poet’s sensibilities, passion and the underlying meaning in a composition. Many readers turn away from a passionate and brutally honest composition, as it makes them uncomfortable.
Poetry is not all about love and triumph, but also of the failures and mistakes of humanity and society. Art will always be an honest reflection of society. A poet becomes that pivot to encompass all the feelings in the compositions. It is as much of nature and also of human tribulations.
You can leave poetry alone or turn away from it, but a poet will not turn away from the passionate and uncomfortable imagery to use art as a true medium of societal events. The metaphors are here to stay, and poetry will survive the apathy. It cannot be left alone.
Poetry is of healing and also of instilling the faith in people by pointing out the uncomfortable truth of human misdemeanours. All kinds of poetry should ultimately have a purpose, and it’s a poet’s selfless duty to compose, even if they face extreme opposition. Poetry and its truth cannot be denied!