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Poetry: No Money, Just Pure Pleasure!!

Updated on March 3, 2011

There's No Money in Poetry! So What!!

Despite a Good Kicking:  Poetry Survives

As a minor poet and journalist, to me, the hackneyed truism, “There’s no money in poetry,” is one heck of an annoying mantra.  I mean, so what?  There’s no poetry in money, either, and that malapropism makes about as much sense.
In fact, real poetry, the kind that takes no little study and hours of painstaking labour to bring an image to life, in a way that causes the reader to get goose pimples and teary eyes, is actually a gift from one person to his world.  And a lasting tribute to himself as he announces, “Here’s what I know, believe, love, question and ponder over - here’s who I am.”
A poem or a complete anthology may well become the only lasting work a writer produces.  Most fiction dies a natural death - the rubbish written today lasts about as long as the daily paper.  Much of non-fiction also has a shelf-life and lasts as long as it is relevant in a rapidly changing world.  Libraries all over the planet have one problem in common: how to dispose of books no one wants any more.  But you will find few well bound and received poetry anthologies in the wheely-bins.  Although they are found regularly at boot sales or in charity shops, the last resting places of most of today’s poetry publications.  And even if they are published and do end up discarded by buyers, the poet and his family and friends keep copies that will endure for some time, some to turn up in estate sales hundreds of years hence.  And if the public at large shows no interest, again: so what?  No poet is concerned with others opinion of his or her verse as it pours out of them in a paean of love or hate to an unforgiving universe; as the trauma of his life coalesces in a well crafted appeal or diatribe to the gods who have done such a bad job of overseeing man’s happiness and well being.  And no poet worth the title gives a toss about the commercial value of his work; but many would be tickled pink to know people would still be getting goose pimples over it for centuries to come.
And what a debt society owes to the great poets through the ages whose work is still available today.  And, if I may observe, a debt is accumulating to the search engines, such as Google - especially Wikipedia sites - for storing about every poem worth the name and making them available to us.
Because poetry is a great storehouse of historical fact and catches the atmosphere of times long past, seen through the eyes of some of literature’s keenest observers. 
Poetry, too, is probably philosophy’s greatest friend.  Who can not remember the immortal lines of Omar Khayyam from the Rubaiyat:

"The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

This verse, the best known from this poignant poem, was written about the time Columbus was discovering America, but it’s observations are as true to today as they were in Persia nearly 500 years ago.  And it still hits us where it hurts.
Poets also have an ongoing, love/hate relationship with religion and it’s deities.  A poet actually has God speak in my poem, “A Man of Leisure Has No Time.” The Almighty is apologising for not being able to do what the common folk had prayed for:

“There was something touching about his prayer,
Although I was busy and couldn’t be there:
You have to remember there’s things to be made,
After all, building’s really my trade…”

And in the last verse:

“I’m liaising with generals, analyzing the flaws
Of their military tactics, (how to win wars).
I’m busy with leaders, the executive section,
On how to raise taxes; to win an election.

And in a final, heart-rending couplet:

“You see?  ‘Course I’m sorry, poor little things,
No time to save sparrows; mend butterfly wings.”

Then the poet can become angry with God and thunders:

“Sitting in your ivory tower,
Sculptor of the perfect flower.
You who sees each creature fall,
Why can’t you heed us when we call?

And with the last verse proclaiming:

“We’re fucking up; we’ve lost control.
Our foolishness is on a roll.
East and West are picking teams
It’s time to say, ‘Godbye’ it seems.”

Poetry, especially in the last century and this, has become a champion of animal’s rights.

The rats in this mainly humorous poem expound their point of view:

“Curse us, trap us, poison us, too,
Who says the world belongs to you?
We can play the waiting game,
Our patience won’t be in vain.”

And concludes:

“Men in cages; our servants, cats
That’s the dream of militant rats!
Or dare I?  Such outrageous thoughts:
Men and cats…in gladiator sports!?”

Satire is an effective writing technique used to expose faults in society and utilizes humour as a mirror through which the world looks at itself. Instead of taking social norms and vices as seriously as many critics, satirists view the ideals of the world as sometimes ludicrous or not always as it seems. They wish to turn the world upside down and make people question their preconceived ideas about the way the world works.
George Gordon Byron was born in London on 22 January 1788. .was perhaps best remembered for his satirical comments about the society and its sacred cows of his day.
More than twenty years later, he would recall in Don Juan, with the atmosphere of his gothic home, Newstead, profoundly effecting the work:

“The mansion’s self was vast and venerable, With more of the monastic than has been
Elsewhere preserved: the cloisters still were stable,
The cells too and refectory, I ween:
An exquisite small chapel had been able,
Still unimpair’d, to decorate the scene;
The rest had been reform’d, replac’d, or sunk,
And spoke more of the baron than the monk.”

And in lines we might apply to some of our political leaders today:

I want a hero- an uncommon want.
When every year and month sends forth a new one,
Till after cloying the gazettes with cant,
The age discovers he is not the true one; (Mr Brown!)
Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,
I’ll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan;
We all have seen him the in pantomime
Sent to the devil, somewhat ere his time.

The poet may directly challenge what he sees as the deterioration of something once held dear, as in the first two verses of my poem about Spain:

“He came to Spain to find her heart,
As others who felt its heat.
Felt the surge of her fluids;
Breathed the romance of her air.

But they’ve opened the drains;
Filled the sewers; the seaways.
Opened skyways; metalled the roads
They diluted the blood of Spain…”


Poets living at the time what would one day be history have recorded the events, while others have looked back at a certain time and put the facts into verse:  both entertaining and instructive, another of posies virtues.  Here, McGonagall brings William Wallace to us, and his death is covered in the stirring work:

The Summary History of Sir William Wallace
by William Topaz McGonagall

Sir William Wallace of Ellerslie,
I'm told he went to the High School in Dundee,
For to learn to read and write,
And after that he learned to fight,
While at the High School in Dundee,
The Provost's son with him disagree,
Because Wallace did wear a dirk,
He despised him like an ignorant stirk,
Which with indignation he keenly felt,
And told him it would become him better in his belt.

Familiar to every school child is following noble poem as it showcases the fate of heroes (ours of course) as they face overwhelming odds against the Russians during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854.

The Light Brigade, Tennyson.

“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Forward the Light Brigade!”

Well, at least he doesn’t have us winning like Audie Murphy did as he practically turned the tide single handed against the Hun in WW2

Finally, the old adage that the best poetry is written in a garret may well be true, at least some of the most heartfelt and agonizing verse as the poet’s circumstances and lack of hope colouring the lines
The following is taken verbatim from the web:

P.C. (Potassium Chloride)
By Ralph Bolden
I'm dreaming of death....
When I close my eyes for the last time I rewind...
Will the last thing I see be my mother's smile?
Or the faces of the jury from my trial.
Watching the P.C. come down the track,
going into my vain, now there is no turning back.
Strapped to the crucifix - pacifist cringe;
If murder ain't right, why would the state kill them.
Coughing up blood when I wake up in my cell,
I think of my mother and a tear of love breaks my shell;
But truthfully I'll never fold; day to day stay strong
Living in a place where no one belongs
Death Row is a place where I lay captive,
24-7 lockdown is how we live.
I smile on the outside, tormented in my dreams.
I see Potassium Chloride enter my bloodstream

About the author: Mr. Bolden is currently on Pennsylvania's Death Row. He is a performance poet, writer and musician.
Among his many inspirations are his brother, an accomplished musician, his mother. a published poet and author, and his great grandmother who at 92 years old has just published her second book. His interests are: religion (comparative studies), music, and current events. The publishers say correspondence is welcome.
Ralph Bolden #CZ 1411
1040 E. Roy Furman Hwy.
Waynesburg, PA. 15370-8090

There are many, many more uses for poetry, apart from its beauty; ability to provoke thought, and entertainment value.  I will cover the huge subject again on Hubpages.
Thank you for allowing me to use some of my own work from “Charged Particles” in this brief piece without laughing like jackasses or hurling your laptop out of the window.  You did!?  Well, at least you weren’t indifferent.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lord Byron was best remembered for satirical poetry, seduction and involvement in foreign warsAudie Murphy was a highly decorated US soldier in WW2.  He died in a private plane crash in 1971Poets like Wordsworth idolized flowers in verse.The Charge of the Light Brigade is immortalized in verse by Alfred Lord Tennyson.Much poetry has been written under duress in prison.
Lord Byron was best remembered for satirical poetry, seduction and involvement in foreign wars
Lord Byron was best remembered for satirical poetry, seduction and involvement in foreign wars
Audie Murphy was a highly decorated US soldier in WW2.  He died in a private plane crash in 1971
Audie Murphy was a highly decorated US soldier in WW2. He died in a private plane crash in 1971
Poets like Wordsworth idolized flowers in verse.
Poets like Wordsworth idolized flowers in verse.
The Charge of the Light Brigade is immortalized in verse by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
The Charge of the Light Brigade is immortalized in verse by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Much poetry has been written under duress in prison.
Much poetry has been written under duress in prison.


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I'm glad I found this little gem and sorry it took me so long to do so!

      Every poet today should relate and agree to your words, "And no poet worth the title gives a toss about the commercial value of his work; but many would be tickled pink to know people would still be getting goose pimples over it for centuries to come."

      The simplicity of your wisdom in this hub leads the reader onward and upward!

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 

      6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Well, it's very odd that more people haven't read and commented on this hub. Maybe they've read it, but didn't comment.

      I enjoyed this very much. I love poetry and I have one of the best books in the world on the various types of poetry, how to do it, how not to have any rules and it contains 400 or more samples of every kind if you want to follow rules and historic types. But my book is packed away -- and I miss it. I think I'll be getting to it in about a month.

      Meanwhile, I write poetry anyway -- and I'm glad you do, too. Voting up, useful and Sharing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I appreciate you telling me that. Bob

    • Chad A Taylor profile image

      Chad Taylor 

      8 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      I was drawn back to read again...


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