Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The problem with poetry

I was aghast, when going through the scribblings and rantings of many of my classmates, to find that an overwhelming majority dealt with poetry. Few things can be more bone chilling to a prosaic person like me than the realisation that my class was populated by a hoard of minor poets. Now, you may think that I harbour some intense anti-poetry agenda, and you could not be farther from the truth. In fact, I adore poems, as long as the publisher guarentees that the poet has been dead for at least a hundred years. As a result you will find me poring over 'Daffodils' and 'To Autumn', but I draw the line at that. Poetry, like wine, certin brands of cheese and buildings, improve with age. Therefore, no connoiseur would dream of filling himself or herself up with stuff on which the ink is still fresh.

In the olden golden days, poets where chaps who shut themselves off from the outside world in their own cottages, which they left only for the purpose of being thrown out of publishing houses to which they had attempted to sell their wares. Thus, if a respected gentleman were to be trapped in a remote island for eternity with only a poet for company, he would rather build a wall and talk to it.

The poetry bug appears to be catching on, like an epidemic. More and more victims are reported each day, with many of the respected and loved ones going down the drain. Gone are the days when 'published posthumously' was a proud tag on a book of verse. Times are such that anyone waking up on a fine morning can dish out a few lines on the blue sky and the black roads and make a couple of fortunes. As a result, young people all over the place are throwing up steady jobs to devote themselves to the new profession. It is a horrible sight to wander out to the junction on a Sunday afternoon and find one's progress positively impeeded by swarms of young poets brought out by the warm weather.

Imagine if Charles Dickens had been a poet.

"Marley was Scrooge's partner
But Scrooge was definitely the meaner.
One day Marley died
But Scrooge never cried.
Scrooge kept both names on the board
For the dead man he adored."

Of course, finding the root cause of the problem is a tough task. A long time ago, when a Tom, Dick or Harry ventured to immerse himself in the perilous proffession, you could talk sense into him. There was that one thing which served like a strong fort in front of an advancing enemy. "What about rhymes, Tom?", you could ask. "Dick, just imagine having to spend your life attempting to find words that rhyme with 'cosmic' and 'symbolism'". When Harry asked why you objected, you could reply "Think of those dark times when you have used up 'May' and 'Gay', 'Fool' and 'Cool' and 'Moon' and 'June'. You may live a few months with 'Intution' and 'Confusion' and 'Cricket' and 'Wicket', but that time too will pass". The next day, you get notifications on Facebook telling you that the above mentioned friends had removed themselves from the group 'I love Poetry'.

But then, like the snake in the Eden Gardens comes a certain person called Edgar Lee Masters and invents vers libre. The rest is history. He told everyone that they need not have rhymes. He urged them to leave out rhymes all together. And thus was born poetry sans rhymes. If my good friend Percy Bysshe was living now, he would have had to rewrite 'The Cloud' thus if he wanted to pull in a dollar a line.

"I pour water over flowers.
I go to the sea and rivers to get it.
I give them shade, so that they can dream.
My dew wakes up the buds as the Earth continues
To revolve around the Sun in an elliptical orbit according to Kepler's laws.
I am also capable of snow
And some rude, loud thunder.

A sleeping population has awakened to the reality that it can make money in heaps by chopping down prose into bits and inserting the relevant punctuations. What is to be done? Mr. Masters left this world long ago, making it impossible to exact any sort of revenge upon him. The only consolation is that, if we all were to become poets, then the phenomenon will die out by itself, because poets seldom buy other poets' stuff.

1 comment:

  1. hmm, correct, but as you will learn this semester, good poetry is less about rhyme and more about rythm. or at least a reallt great metaphor.

    fab blog, by the way.