Is Poetry a Dying Art?
Literature in Our Present Time
We are living in a time in which Fifty Shades of Grey and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell are New York Times Best Sellers. How is a book of poetry supposed to compete with that? Most young people these days are not reading poetry. It is just not something considered highly noteworthy among young people. Originally poetry was a form of remembering and orally retelling history. Homer's The Odessey, which is an epic poem about more than one soldier coming home from war is still read today over 3,000 years after it was written. Yet, I find myself asking, what kind of appeal did the poem have at the time in which It was written?
Why Young People Should Read Poetry
- Poetry helps people get to learn about each other, their experiences, and build communities.
- The use of poetry creates avenues for language and listening skills.
- Poetry helps with social and emotional learning which helps create resilience in kids and adults.
- Poetry helps people understand how language and symbol systems work.
- Poetry can be used to express emotions or deep feelings along with what is good and beautiful in the world.
Who writes Poetry?
Most people think of poetry as an art done by overly sensitive people who are not accepted by society as a whole. There are very few revered female poets. Most of the revered poets such as Ted Hughes are male. The way that the epic poem started out was really masculine because it was telling stories about heroic actions done by men. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, historians are not for sure if the author Homer who is credited for writing The Illiad and The Odyssey was a real person or possibly more than one person all going by the common name "Homer". Some think he was this old blind guy who was sitting there writing all this historical stuff. Whether or not this person really existed is questionable. However, the works are still read today.
Who was Homer?
Facts About Poetry
- One of the first types of poetry is the "epic" which consists of a long narrative describing multiple heroic actions.
- The Epic of Gilgamesh which tells a tale of a King who is half God and half human is the oldest written poem dating back to 4,000 years ago.
- In the English language, the oldest poem is Beowulf from 8th century A.D. It is a 3,000 line epic about Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves his people from the monster of Grendel and its mother.
- Poetry can be used as an outlet for emotions.
- A stanza contains 12 lines. A couple is a two line stanza. While a quatrain is four line couplet.
The Voice of Women
When Did Women Start Writing Poetry?
The art of poetry started off as extremely masculine and than changed its tone. The Epic Poem eventually gave way to other forms of poetry and even women started writing poetry. When women started writing their own poetry is unknown. Still, today, the majority of celebrated poets like Longfellow and Ted Hughes are of course men. However, some women like Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath also wrote poetry and gave their own voice to whatever was going on in their lives. Although, not known for poetry, Louisa Mae Alcott who wrote some highly successful novels included her own original poetry in some of her novels.
Has anything Changed?
I guess the question I have is: has it really changed over the years? The epic poem "The Odyssey" which was about Odysseus coming home from the Trojan war was the inspiration behind the book Odysseus in America written by Dr. Johnathon Shay. The book basically said that the epic poem was about combat trauma and trials of homecoming which were basically the same 3,000 years ago as they are today. Is the same true of unrequited love, the weather, war, depression, or anything really? The language people use has changed. Yet, is the message of the poetry different or is it basically the same?
Modern Day Odysseus
"Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings."— Woodworth
Poem by Emily Dickinson
"Heart, we will forget him,
You and I tonight!
You must forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.
When you have done pray tell me,
Then I, my thoughts will dim.
Haste! lest while you're lagging
I may remember him!"--Emily Dickinson
"So stare up at the moon and think of him.
My love is unreciprocated making the night so grim.
I dreamed of a bird hatching from an egg.
And it flew away from me despite how much I tried to plea and beg.
It was like a thought or a feeling of the bonds of affection.
But, it flew away never to return to my detection.
The love I sent out in ribbons and waves
Was never returned no matter how much I gave.
I was chasing after love, trying to hunt it down
And when it came to being the Queen of desperation I wore the crown.
He had no idea I even existed
And my yearning for love became so twisted.
I couldn't hunt down love and put it in a hope chest.
And only take it out when my heart needed rest.
My crying out for reciprocation of what I felt
Would never be alleviated because of the hand I was dealt.
My heart became a vagrant wanderer looking for a home.
What it needed was protection in a pavilion or dome.
To say love is blind is an understatement.
Love causes people to do and say things that they will repent.
So, now I lay in mourning like a death shroud.
At least now I have been alleviated from this foggy cloud.
The lies and deception that I once believed
Are buried with my naivete that grieves.
The bird has flown far away from me.
Into the future I can move and be free."--Megan Fricke
Is only the language the difference between these poems or is the message still the same in both?
Which poem do you like better?
"I counted til they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town,
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down.
And then they grow so jolly
I did resign the prig,
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!"------ Emily Dickinson
"An intricately woven, white, spider web of lace
Is falling from the sky dancing with God's grace.
It is carried by the wind until it reaches where it lands.
It is a perfect breath of life inside of nature's demands.
Circular, white, crystal-like falling snow
Surround me during winter and wherever I may go.
In the absence of heat it forms and falls.
Slowly it comes where the cold resides and crawls.
It is a perfect creation falling on the window sill.
It is a breath of God's creation and his will.
It dances and falls in the wind with time.
In the cold of winter is when the snowflake's beauty has its prime. "----Megan Fricke
Has Anything Changed?
Is only the language different or is the message still the same?
Which Poem do you like better?
How to Analyze a Poem Written by Eminem
Is Eminem a poet? Poetry was originally recited in oral form to tell an Epic tale. Has rap music taken over as a sign of continuing the art? That is, is rap music continuing the art of oral story telling? This controversial singer is seen by some as a poet in our times. Others think he is a terrible influence on our youth. Has using rhyming and verse as a way of storytelling really gone away or has it just changed form? With books like I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and Fifty Shades of Grey being New York Times best Sellers, is poetry just going to the wayside because people think that it is irrelevant to our modern times? Or is this ancient form of writing and story telling going to be continued on in our modern times?
Is poetry becoming extinct?
There are very few revered female poets. Sylvia Plath was one of them even though her husband, Ted Hughes was the most notorious of the two. If you want to read modern poetry, a good book is God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise by Megan Fricke. In the title, "The Creek" is in reference to the Creek Indians who used to live in the area where the saying is often said. It is not in reference to a body of water. In conclusion, my opinion is that it is good for all people to read and study poetry, modern and historical because it explores difficult things in life as well as what is considered beautiful and gets the mind to think about ideas, concepts, and people as a whole.
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