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Has Poetry Ceased to be Relevant?

August 31st, 2011 by NKatre in Commentary

Does it not appear that poetry has ceased to be relevant…that this progenitor of the arts—Apollo’s gift—in all its radiant, former glory, has become if not now meaningless, at least an endangered species, as it were; or, soon to be forgotten like other monuments of antiquity, to be studied, even worshiped and admired, but with a forlorn glance, as relics of ages past, having lost all dynamism and its capacity to engage us in the eternal Now? Does poetry deserve the lack of attention and the vexed appreciation it is now shown?

Perhaps the reason that there are so few lovers of poetry in our era is because Free Verse appears not only to have liberated poetry from rigid forms superimposed on it from the Greek and Latin classics, but it has well-nigh liberated our language from poetry altogether. Language devoid of melody is not poetry – it is just compressed prose!

Duke Ellington said “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!”
Dr. Gilliam adds, “Melody is the thing that makes all poetry sing!”

Not since the appearance of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (if we overlook Allen Ginsberg’s Howl which signaled a movement [the Beat Generation] more than a formal structural shift in poetry) has there been a book of poetry that forecasts a major change in the way a poem is written. While Eliot was not alone responsible for Free Verse (vide, Walt Whitman) and the revolution that terminated meter and rhyme in poetic lines, his book is remembered as one of its greatest and most famous examples.

My book, Optics, picks up the challenge presented by Vers Libre and demonstrates how a poem can be both musical and free, how it can have both rhythmic and melodic patterns and at the same time retain the creative, dynamic flow of meaning emanating from the lines of a poem without sounding contrived, predictable, or encumbered by the centuries-old tradition of meter and rhyme. I demonstrate this development in form, both with poetry, especially in my “Sonnets To The Four Seasons” and also with the essay “The Melody of Poetry” (a poetics in brief) — in which I outline and explain how the sonnets can appear individually on the page as a post free verse poem, yet set within the stanzaic arrangement of a Shakespearean sonnet, but each one with the melody, harmony, and rhythm of one constructed with meter and rhyme.

The progress we make can be measured by the delicate balance humility imposes on us, as we navigate ourselves between our visions of the future and the respect we hold for cherished accomplishments of the past, and for those whom we know we are thereby indebted. I hear the echo of Stephen Hawking who reminded us of Sir Isaac Newton’s statement, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Were it not for the literary giants I have studied and on whose shoulders I stand, my poetry would not have been possible.

4 Responses to “Has Poetry Ceased to be Relevant?”

  1. Elkton says:

    Great Job…

    keep bringing more please I love this site…

  2. Ripstik says:

    Nice Job…

    this is good reading please keep updating I will be back in a few days…

  3. Jase says:

    Great stuff, you helped me out so much!

  4. IFRS Comparison says:

    Feast for thought…

    In my opinion – you might want to write at high school education level for better reader involvement….

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