When reading a poem, or when listening to someone reciting a poem, I first and has
squandered its appeal. This is due to the fact that many writers of prose have learned to
write so poetically, and too many poets write so prosaically, that they have become one and
the same. Rhyme is the only sure and true way to distinguish, and separate, poetry from
prose. Prose, in my mind, includes prose poetry, free verse, and blank verse.
However, I do write free verse, blank verse, and prose poetry from time to time, because I
believe that to write only in free verse or to write only in rhyme is to be only half a poet.
Now, I think prose poetry is okay; I like free verse; I’m deeply fond of blank verse; but I love,
love, love, love rhyme, and if I have to choose between them,
I’ll always go with what I love. But I digress. Let's get back to the language of poetry.
Firstly, let me ask a question: Se avete intenzione di trasferirsi in un altro paese, cosa si
deve fare prima di andare lì? I'm sorry. You say you don’t understand Italian. Mama mia!
Well, let me rephrase: Si se va a mudar a un país extranjero, ¿qué debe hacer en primer
lugar para poder sobrevivir allí? What’s that you say? Madre sagrada! You don’t
understand Spanish. Okay, let me ask the question still another way: Si vous allez
déménager dans un autre pays, ce qui devrait vous faire avant de vous y allez? What's that
you say? Sacre Bleu! You don’t understand French either. Okay then, how about this: If
you plan to live in a foreign country, what should you do first in order to survive there? For
me the answer is simple: One should first learn the language.
It is no different with poetry. Poetry has a language of its own, and it is a language that
exists within your own, primary language; and it takes that primary language and fine tunes
its words in such a manner, that with a fraction of all the words you can possibly use, you say
it all, and sometimes, more.
Ah yes! There it is! Poetry is the language within its primary language which becomes more
than the primary language, and elevates itself to the highest degree. Isn't that a wonderful
paradox? After all, how can you take a small portion of an entire vocabulary, and create a
language greater than its parent language? I don't know about you, but it boggles my mind.
Poetry is also a language which utilizes all of the elements of prose, such as simile,
metaphor, alliteration, denotation, connotation, consonance, assonance, etc., etc., etc., with
the added bonus, if you dare, of being able to add uniqueness to your poem through the use
of rhyme. These elements are condiments on the spice rack of poetry, and like a master
chef selecting ingredients and spices for a "pièce de résistance," a "obra maestra," a "opera
d’arte," you, as a poet, must learn all you can about poetry, and use all its elements, its
vocabulary, to create your own poetic masterpiece.
I feel that the more I learn about poetry, the more I realize how little I know, and therefore, I
am always in pursuit of more knowledge in regards to this highest form of writing, so I can
understand it, so I can speak it well, so I can converse with it, so words in practice are words
well spent, and hopefully, one day, I can master as many of, if not all, the elements of writing I
have at my disposal. So, in parting, permit me one last question, in plain English: How can
you write your best poetry if you don’t first learn the language? Is poetry awesome, or what?
I'm sorry, that's two questions.