Why We Need Poetry?

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I can, perhaps, guarantee that one out of ten people in Calcutta alone may have simply heard of poets like Rumi or Elizabeth Barrett Browning. To add to that, they’ve either heard of them while studying literature in school or college on the off chance that the poet was mentioned. I may be generalizing at this point but I’ve experienced one too many instances of being severely disappointed in the poetic dearth of my peers. After two years of college I can officially say that I now know a handful of people with the capacity for poetic intelligence and with whom I can hold a detailed intricate discussion about the delicacies and importance of poems and poetry. Albeit, poetry may not be everyone’s cup of tea – reading in itself may not be anyone’s cup of tea but all it takes is one right book to strike a few chords and awaken the reader in us all. The same goes for poetry – the write poem with the right arrangement of words, based on exactly what we may be feeling at the time may be just what a person needs to delve into the depths of this great form of literature.

There isn’t much that is required for the enjoyment of poetry; honestly, it all depends on your personal interpretation. Poetry wasn’t written sell big or for fame, it was written to bring the world to its knees with their own personal battles and pull it back up again. It is an expression of emotion without the purple prose; it is raw emotion in its raw form – a simple expression of the deepest, most intimate thoughts and feelings of the person writing it. We may relate to poetry, we may quote the greats but we will never know the true turmoil that compelled the poet to write what he/she did. Thus poetry is put in our hands to do what we will with it. Therein this article is not simply a review on poetry but my insistence that poetry must be indulged in for the world to be complete.

A rather popular and highly revered poet, Edgar Allan Poe is known for his dark poetry and prose, the sense of impending doom and horror is very evident in all his work. He wasn’t necessarily a very happy or bright person but he could he could evoke romance from even the darkest of rhymes. ‘Annabel Lee’ is probably still one of his most popular works. There are many theories on who his subject could be but the most popular is obviously his wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe. This beautiful ballad of six stanzas uses a repetition of words and phrases to drag the dull yet passionate emotion out and give it a feeling of remorse. The story about a beautiful young girl who dies and who the poet knows for a fact he will go on loving even though she is be no more. Although this ideal love where the poet worships his subject is rather fancy and floozy sounding to our ears, it is nonetheless beautiful. His expression of emotion, the way he describes his passionate undying love for her takes ones breath away.

Another poet known particular for his poem ‘She Walks in Beauty’ written in the early 1800’s is Lord Byron. Sure we may say that poetry like this romanticizes people and love and whatnot but denying it’s beauty and the fact that it strikes a chord somewhere in the recesses of your heart and mind is a falsification of life itself. The poem was written for his cousin by marriage when he saw her dressed in black and mourning. The beautiful rhyming, short lines flow smoothly into each other and create a sense of calmness and an oxymoronic atmosphere of darkness and light. He describes her walking like the night which is usually associated with evil and doom but she also has an aura of lightness that converge in her eyes.

“And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.”


Like I said, poetry is free to interpretation. Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi (simply known as Rumi) wrote more or less religious poetry. However, certain poems can be viewed in a rather romantic light. His sense of enlightenment and his life in tune with nature was rather obvious and well displayed in his poetry. ‘Like This’ is a beautifully written free verse poem written about the love he felt for another and the same passion with which that love was reciprocated. It embodies the strength and power of a love so strong; their love is built to stand against time and though it may encompass every form of physical and emotional love, it is still the most pure form of love they could have or ever have experienced.