The passage in Milton’s Paradise Lost, where the Serpent addresses Eve and uses the deductive power of words to get her to eat the forbidden fruit catches so much about why poetry is written.
1. It uses language in a way that suggests words can have a magical power to transform things, even bring them into being.
2. It charms and captures the emotional link between language and the human body in its sounds and rhythms. It is language at its freest and sexiest and full of live, as opposed to dead metaphors.
3. It provides a space for the exercise of powerful intuitions about the spiritual nature of human society (and since poetry is on the wane — this might indicate that the health of our society and our world is not all that great : from the perspective of poetry, these things are linked. As Ezra Pound said: “poets are the antennae of our race”
4. It can be quiet and carefully worked out — close to religious mediation, or ” fast and furious” close to an auctioneer singing out the progress of bids.
5. It is smart, sassy and clever and a way of showing your verbal smarts — which is an exhibitionism that must at some level be sexual.
6. It holds the promise that something of you may survive you — or may be able to teach out to another (a reader) in a way that you cannot do in everyday conversation or regular official communication
7. Homer, Virgil, African praise poetry: it is in our blood.
8. Nasty as they may be individually, self-promoting and egotistical -/ when we compare poets to politicians, bureaucrat and the military: they have to be seen on the side of the good.
9. Jesus didn’t give theological monographs or long-winded, verbose sermons or political speeches, he delivered his message in parables — poetic stories that touched people
10. In Shakespeare’s great play dealing with political power: Julius Caesar, Mark Anythony kicks Brutus’ ass because where Brutus is reasonable, using moderate, sensible prose, Anthony is incendiary, he has the crowd in the palm of his hand using poetry.
The reasons I feel ‘people write poetry’:
Storing Memories: We don’t remember days, good days or bad days. We remember moments: good, bad, not so good, okay moments. We live our lives in moments stringed after moments.
I store my memories in poems. A sequence of words that mean completely different things to a another person means something very precise to me because my Individual self sees it in its Individual way.
A poet writes a poem to store his (or her) memories, his feelings in these lines. He reads it back to himself (and makes a few changes, rewrites it) in an attempt to feel again, to purify the feeling of, that same emotion, he had felt. The poet is storing his memories for future ’emoting’ in his poem.
Whats beautiful is that a poet knows well enough that others who would read his poetry would interpret it in their own way, would relate their own set of emotions, ‘store their own set of memories in this poem; a poet realizes that his original set of emotions are his own, disjoint from the rest of the readers; a poet realizes all this.
This is where the beauty lies, or as I like to say:
This is where the poetry lies.
Excitement of Sharing: There is a joy in sharing with others that which you find beautiful. A thrill in finding out that people appreciate that which you brought to them. An excitement in realizing that something that brings others pleasure was created by you.
That you, in your own little way were able to move a person through your words.
Our answer to Our ‘Why’: Science has the answers to our “hows”, it is satisfying our curiosities as best it can, by informing us about how “things” happen. But, that is what the mind seeks, not what the heart yearns.
Everyone is left to himself to figure out the “Why”.
Poems are our own answers to our own “Why” satisfying our most primitive urge for closure.
Even if the poem dictates there is no closure, it is the closure the Poet sought.