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     Volume 4 Issue 64 | September 23, 2005|

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Straight Talk

Poetry The Lost Treasure

Nadia Kabir Barb

Kazi Nazrul Islam, Rabindranath Tagore, Ghalib, Homer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Shelly, Tennyson….I could go on and on. The list of poets who have enriched us with the beauty of their words is endless. Take Homer's Odyssey for instance, it is one of the most famous epics and tells the tale of Odysseus and the trial and tribulations he faced during his journeys and was written an unbelievable 3,000 plus years ago. Then we have Rabindranath Tagore who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for his collection of poems, the "Gitanjali". Maybe I am wrong but it seems nowadays people are neither particularly interested nor aware of the amazing legacy left by all these immensely talented people in the form of their poems. I would love to be wrong but in these days where technology is advancing in leaps and bounds, and the internet is at our fingertips, the youth of today are not interested in the art of poetry. Letter writing has been replaced to a certain extent by email and text messaging. In addition, these forms of communication do not require us to know punctuation, grammar or even require us to spell correctly so they are not exactly conducive to reading or writing poetry. I think in some quarters, to be seen enjoying poetry can even be considered a "geeky" or "nerdy" pastime. But all I can say is that those people who have never been touched or moved by a piece of poetry are missing out on a beautiful part of life.

If we had to define poetry, how would we do it? What we know is that it is a form of literature that is ancient in its nature and has undergone many changes and has evolved and been re-invented over time. But what exactly is poetry? According to one definition, 'Poetry is an imaginative awareness of experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language choices so as to evoke an emotional response. Poetry has been known to employ meter and rhyme, but this is by no means necessary. The very nature of poetry as an authentic and individual mode of expression makes it nearly impossible to define.' In fact there are many definitions of poetry and all slightly different in their interpretation. When we read poetry, it typically evokes some sort of emotion in us. It could be a feeling of elation, sorrow, anger, pity, love…In other words; poetry is highly evocative and emotive. It can also allow us to journey into other aspects of our psyche. We can at times experience a sense of revelation or insight into understanding ourselves or how we view life and the world around us through poetry. An artist begins with a blank canvas and uses his/her colours to depict an image, or portrait or scenery or even an emotion. And there is a multitude of styles ranging from impressionism, surrealism to cubism and abstract art. Each artist has their own style of painting and similarly each poet has his or her own approach. In the same way poetry can ran range from a whole gamut of emotions, ideas and thoughts. Poems can describe love, grief, passion, humour, some poems can be erotic, others can tell the most intricate of stories, describe a person or even events.

In my opinion, poetry is one of the most exquisite forms of expression. You don't have to be an expert on the construction of iambic pentameters, blank verse or rhyming couplets to be able to appreciate the beauty of poetry. Having been a voracious reader of poetry since an early age I find it hard to comprehend when people say they find poetry boring. How can poems such as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Coleridge, "The Lady of Shalott" by Tennyson or "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day" by Shakespeare be boring? A few hundred years ago, wooing a woman with verses dedicated to her eyes, her lips, her beauty or her generosity of spirit would have been considered delightful and amorous. When do you ever see a man write a poem for the woman he is in love with these days almost never, I would think. It is probably as rare the sighting of Haley's Comet! In fact nowadays it would probably be considered corny and clichéd. To be honest I for one would have loved to have had someone write reams and reams dedicated to me, maybe professing their love for me or had an ode written especially for me! How much more romantic that is than a text message saying, "I love you", (actually it would be, "i luv u")! If any of the poets from the romantic era knew how romance was conducted these days they would turn in their graves for sure! Today I am going to end with a few lines from a Poem called "Tears Idle Tears" by one of my favourite poets --- Lord Tennyson.

"Tears idle tears, I know not what they mean,"
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more,"….


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