At present I have two new volumes of poetry in preparation and am striving to 'screw courage to the sticking place'. In one vanished literary forum, there was an ongoing - and open-ended! - discussion about what defines poetry, so I was interested to stumble upon the opinion below which underlies my conclusions.
It has been my firm belief since I first began to attempt the art of poetry that the making of a poem should be, as Yeats asserted, a difficult business. However, I have always felt reservations about what seems to me the only partially true belief, stated by both Eliot and Hopkins in their different ways, that the meaning of a poem is of less significance than its structure and texture, Eliot’s ‘nice bit of meat for the house-dog.’ Ideally the poem should be the perfection of expression of meaning inseparable from the methods by which that expression is achieved.
A few further quotations from the luminaries of poesy...
Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history
Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason
Who can tell the dancer from the dance?
W. B. Yeats
Poetry is as precise as geometry
Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood
T. S. Eliot
Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting
The crown of literature is poetry
W. Somerset Maugham.
Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life
Poetry must be as new as foam and as old as the rock
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A man is a poet if the difficulties inherent in his art provide him with ideas; he is not a poet if they deprive him if ideas.
...and finally, just to steel the nerve...and, contrarily, it does...!
Publishing a volume of poetry is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.
Photo: Philip Schwartz