Dissertation on Poetry? A Few Thoughts of Mine.

a writing by Denis Barter

“I can never get people to understand that poetry is the expression of excited passion, and that there is no such thing as a life of passion any more than a continuous earthquake, or an eternal fever. Besides, who would ever shave themselves in such a state? Lord Byron, in a letter to Thomas Moore, 5 July 1821"

I have often wondered what it is that sets some of us on the road to write poetry? I never understand what inner force insists I continually strive to write as I do? Constantly find myself embroiled in a (sometimes losing) struggle to find, and connect the precise words (failing miserably most times) by which I can adequately express my feelings - All in the rhyming genre. Even unto myself, any rationale and excuse I use, seldom makes sense!

Few people would or could - even if clever enough to employ such machinations - speak in rhyme, so how and why does the written, rhyming poem fill a void or need for so many of us? Was it because of our early education? Was it because the rhythm one senses when reading a poet’s words, can strike a sympathetic chord within us? Or is it nothing more than lines gelling with subliminal rhythmic waves some of us possess? Were those very subconscious rhythms observed and further nurtured by our early teachers, who themselves, were also encouraged by discerning adults when they were young and developing?

Maybe it has more to do with our mental chemistry which, purely by happenstance, takes place, because of our genetic make-up? Whatever the root cause, I always feel honoured to be one of those so blessed. For blessed indeed are we!

Yes, on occasion I do find and will practice speaking in two lined, rhyming couplets, but it is only in a very limited manner, when it seems either appropriate or, as most often, when lines naturally occur, after being dragged out of the morass that I call my brain! More often of a humourous nature on a nonsensical whim! I often indulge in this practice when my wife and I are alone and we use this ploy to lighten the mood. It has been found to be an admirable antidote to sad and depressing moments.

I’ve (belatedly) had a chance to catch up on composing poetry of late. Almost said ‘writing’ but one seldom “writes” poetry, as it does require thoughtful consideration if it is to be effective and competent! Besides which, I seldom comment - as you might have observed – on poems that other Members write and post. As for those written by Poets long dead, or of great renown, I invariably discover an intriguing, rhythmic pattern coursing through their lines. These not only capture the subject that expresess an unusual or exciting viewpoint, but encourages me to seek more of the same composed by other poets from whom I hope to learn more of this art. After all, they were published and very much appreciated, at a time when printing was still in its infancy and was a laborious and time consuming chore, and distribution of their work, was even more difficult..

For me the beauty of language employed by some Poets in expressing their deep felt thoughts, will and can to some degree, overwhelm my senses. By so doing, they excite me to again launch myself into composing my own thoughts in poetry. This, in a way that I trust will reflect my own viewpoint. By dint of using my personal and familiar (to me) style, that puts my own ‘take’ on the same subject, I can perhaps, allow readers to discover my reasons for writing as I do? Although I remain ever careful not to plagiarize or paraphrase their work, this is not always as easy as it sounds, for truly, I am of an age when so many of the words, earlier poets employed, were still in common usage when I attended school.

So I would ask of Members, what is the reason you read and perhaps, write poetry? Of those Members who can and do write poetry, be it prose, blank verse, Haiku, rhyming verse or even limericks, what is it that initially incites and excites you to write? Is it a subtle nuance in something you read? Is it, as often happens with myself, a rhyming couplet or phrase, or even words that trigger a thought, which in turn, lends itself to being suitable as a subject or topic for a poem?

Perhaps it is nothing more than a passing spoken comment from someone, which stirs the imagination until one can no longer deny our insistent urge to write? A thought that will not only lead the poet down an intriguing path, but offers them endless possibilities in a quest to illustrate their inner thoughts.

The “Quotation” with which I began this dissertation, is one that possesses much truth and is one I have long known. I find it most appropriate, for truthfully there are often times when I find myself bemoaning my perceived, constant need to compose poetry. An obsession at times which is so hard to resist. Surely it is humanly impossible to live on a ‘high’ plane forever. Eventually the time arrives when one has to descend to the regular, mundane world.

Had I been born a Gray, a Wordsworth or even a Shakespeare perhaps? I could better understand the underlying passion that drives me to compose poetry today, but being little more than a floundering, late developing neophyte seeking direction and purpose in this extremely complicated and diverse genre, which requires thought and dtermination, I sometimes wonder what drives others to write as they do? Is there an answer to be found?

This is what I wonder me on this dull Mid November morning.

Rhymer. November 13th, 2018.
(Originally written December 2007).

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