A Confession, a Theory, and a Message Walk Into a Blog...

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"They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means."

In his poem, "Introduction to Poetry," Billy Collins is able to express the reasons why I generally dislike studying poetry.  To be completely honest, I have a sort of love-hate relationship with poetry analysis, so you may be confused if I tend to change my mind about my feelings from time to time.  In my entry entitled "This Isn't Literary Surgery?" I think I gave the impression that I hate analyzing poems.  I apologize to all the poets out there who would disagree with me, but the truth is, I kind of like it sometimes.  Yes, I realize that not every single word is necessarily significant in the overall scheme of the poem, but sometimes I wonder if the opposite is true.  Maybe every word is significant, but only to the poet's subconscious creative mind, and he just doesn't realize it when he reviews the finished product.  

However, I only think that way when I'm being overly philosophical, psychological, and several other -icals that I don't even realize I'm being.  Normally, I agree with Collins' message in "Introduction to Poetry."  Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, a poem is just an artist's means of expressing her creativity, her emotions.  There's not always a need to "torture a confession out of [a poem]" to find out what it really means.  Sometimes a poem should just be read because the reader feels a connection to the poet's emotional sentiments.  One does not need to interrogate a poem to gain something from it.  The only action necessary to gain is to "press an ear against [the poem's] hive," to listen to the motions and emotions within and interpret them as they apply to the reader.  

NOTE: Sorry I don't have page numbers. I purchased the wrong edition of the book and the bookstore won't be open until Tuesday, so I had to read the poem online.

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5 Comments

Melissa Schwenk said:

I like how you think that sometimes every word is important to a poem. It definitely makes analyzing a poem better if that's true.

Josie Rush said:

Definitely with you on the "love hate" relationship, Karyssa. Though, I think that's how most writers feel about, not only analyzing, but writing. Wasn't it Dorothy Parker who said, "I hate writing. I love having written." That applies to most things in the field of English, I believe.

Jessica Orlowski said:

Karyssa, I wasn't sure what Collins meant when he said "press an ear against its hive," but thanks for pointing me in a good direction. I suppose we all need to listen to a poem's internal buzzing, even if we're afraid of getting stung.

Dave said:

I like the idea that words are important in the writer's subconscious, if not in their conscious mind. That makes SO MUCH more sense to me than the idea that each word is a conscious choice, with some deep meaning behind it. I especially found that suggestion ridiculous when reading structured poems: sometimes you just need a three syllable adjective, with a `'` rhythm, that rhymes with avacado. However, the possible words that a poet may come up with to fit in this spot are completely governed by their subconscious. As much as the decision was mechanical on the part of the poet, their subconscious played some role in their selection.

Melissa: I'm glad you like it!

Josie: That's an excellent quote, because it's so true. Especially when writing an essay, I always mumble and grumble but push myself to get it done. Then once it's all polished and hot in my hands, I feel so proud and relieved that I've finished.

Jess: "Even if we're afraid of getting stung." That's rather poetic :)

Dave: I'm glad you like my theory. I often get into these moods and I typically come up with some crazy ideas, but I liked this one.

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