I love poetry. I love the way a poem can convey so much meaning in so few words. I love the way a master poet creates a convergence of sound and sense, a meeting and merging of the sound of words with their significance. I love the beauty of the language and the complexity – or simplicity – of the ideas.
But it wasn’t always so. When I was a student in high school, I really hated poetry. I just couldn’t understand it. I found it opaque, boring, and insignificant. Any progress I have made in learning to appreciate poetry must be attributed to two central factors: a number of brilliant teachers who helped me to experience its beauty, and a simple increase in exposure. The more poetry I read, the better I understood and appreciated it.
I can’t claim to be able to pass on the first of these two factors. I am not a professional or an expert. I don’t write poetry myself, I don’t have a Ph.D. in English, and I have not produced any works of scholarship on English poetry. But I do love reading it. And I’ve created this blog because when I read lovely poetry, I want to share it. I want to recite from the rooftops and declaim in the marketplaces. Good poetry deserves to be shared.
My goal, then, is this. I want to share good poems with you. This blog is not going to be about me. Yes, I may make a couple of comments about poems here and there, explaining in a sentence or two what I find exceptionally effective about the poems. But I’m not planning to focus on myself here. I want the poetry in its proper place: the spotlight. I hope to feature poems from throughout the last several centuries – I want all of us to experience a great variety. (I plan to include only poems written in English, not because poetry in other languages is not equally excellent, but because poetry in translation is unfortunately robbed of much of its power.) I also plan, when possible, to draw connections between the various poems featured and the seasons, holidays, and anniversaries which – as they do every year – will provide 2011 with its structure, its ebb and flow.
I hope that this blog will introduce you to some new poets, maybe ones you’ve never heard of before. I know it will introduce me to plenty as I search for good poems to add – and I can’t wait! I’d love to see comments and thoughts on the blog posts. Poetry, like all literature, is meant to be reacted to.
A poem a day. To read it slowly – twice – requires an investment of five minutes. The reward: an increased understanding of literature. A broader experience of language. An appreciation for the beauty of poetry. Join me!
A note on the name of the blog: In the late sixteenth century, Sir Philip Sidney wrote his “Defence of Poesie”, an essay about the power of poetry over our minds and hearts. Considered one of the earliest works of literary criticism in English, Sidney’s essay discusses the hold that fiction – particularly poetic fiction – has over our imaginations, and thus its great power to teach and influence us. As a great fan both of Sidney’s poetry and of his essay, I titled this blog in tribute to him.