Thursday, September 22, 2011


Poetry, in my experience, can be impenetrable, it can be esoteric, it can be self-indulgent, and it can be overly sentimental. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of poetry. I believe I’m not alone in my suspicion.

There was a time when poetry ruled the English speaking world. People at that time saw poetry as having charisma and life, intelligence and feeling, elements which they saw as lacking in prose. At that time many considered prose to be, well, prosaic.

I think our forefathers were wrong about prose. But perhaps there is more to poetry than I had given it credit for. Perhaps my dislike of poetry was caused by my reading the wrong poetry.

Good poetry, in my opinion, is that which helps us see the mundane world in a magical way. It can illuminate us or give us a sense of comfort.

‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Coleridge was enforced reading when I was in school. I still remember this stanza:

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

My mind finds this combination of words utterly captivating.

I am beginning to realise that there is a lot the writer of prose can learn from the poets – the good ones, that is.

The time has come for me to add poetry to my reading list.

1 comment:

  1. Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. ~Leonard Cohen
    If all history was written as poetry, who would the first poem have been about? Maybe that uy that slew a bunch of Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass ..... I would read that poem.
    Great blog Matthew