How To Understand Poetry
A poem finds layers of meaning, parallels, and patterns
In such a way, poetry is musical and mathematical. Here is one of my favorite poems, written for one of my black belt examinations during an intensive 7-year training course.
Through the mists of time and place, it
Is always so--
Many journey after the truth
And many fall from the confused and
Of pitfalls and potholes
Left unfilled by the Empty Way.
Before time was conceived, unchanging Truth has waited
For those strong enough to seek it,
Humble enough to accept it, Spirited enough to live it:
Those Who Will Walk the Narrow Way.
These youth of the flowering spirit and Knowledge
Forge across the firmest footholds,
Avoiding the sinking sands of falsehood
And compromise -
Unblinded by the world.
They will truly know the dragon.
They will not be crushed in the claws of Deception
Nor bow down to small ideas,
But when the debris of the world
Seeks to bury and devour
A bud appears, and then a blossom,
And Truth will be as Dragonflow'r.
Grandmaster Patty Inglish; 9th Dan, current
US Representative to Supreme Council for Sports in Africa-Zone 3
Homer International Society of Poets; August, 1986
Published for 3rd Dan Black Belt Test requirement
Wind and Water
One Type of Dragon Flower
A Dragon Flower Vase
Another Type of Dragon Flower
Cultural Traditions: Poetry
Cultures throughout time and across the globe have developed and appreciated poetry in a myriad of forms. The official types of poetry in the English language may illustrate those having the greatest numbers of rules and set patterns. Free verse is a breaking away from all this. Japan offers at least two forms in its Haiku and Tanka. Korea produces Sijo, although the years 2000 - 2010s hold changes and variations in this traditional style that I have not seen previously. The Chinese and Koreans have long histories of writing to win political offices - essays and poetry, high art forms in those countries.
"Pattern poetry" is what I prefer to call the works of e.e. cummings and some other poets, all of which make patterns or even pictures out of the words as they line up on the page like a marching band at Half Time. These are interesting and can follow a set meter and rhyming pattern as well as to march on entirely in free verse. Some of mine have taken shape as swords, flowers, trees, and other forms.
The result is quite nice if the image reinforces a theme in the poem.
Other pattern poems can be done without words at all, but only numbers, colors, shapes, or what have you.
This is a poem:
Binary lineups can be poetic:
Rows of colored blocks may take the form of a poem as well.
Shakespeare and Homer are historic poets. And we have the tone poems and symphonies of all our musicians. The drumming patterns of percussion create poetry. Fractals - these are poems set by equations.
Four calling birds, three whales singing, two elephants trumpeting, one cricket chirping in the rafters -- It is all poetry and pattern.
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