Reading poetry

Reading poetry 31

Poetry elicits different emotions in different people. For some, it conjures dreadful memories of a double-lesson afternoon poetry class (ranking up there with a double Maths or double Physics lesson) dictated by a sullen, unimaginative tutor; this, after a heavy lunch and when the mind is prone to wander into slumber. For others, poetry is bliss- transporting them to never never land, an oasis of wild adventure, else, touching their lives in the most profound of ways by activating new perceptions of the every day.

Essentially, poetry should and must be enjoyable first. Only then can we move towards appreciating it wholly, gradually falling in love with its technicalities- rhyme, rhythm, metre, genre, stylistic devices, deriving meaning and so on. Otherwise, an insistence on rote-learning that stresses on the technicalities at the expense of enjoyment makes people averse to poetry. A phenomenon displayed at the formative stage that is the school curriculum.

That said, we can learn to fall in love with poetry. The first step is to begin by savouring simple forms of poetry- haikus, sonnets- without even necessarily having to know their names; rather, choosing them for their brevity before moving on to longer and more complex poems.

Once a particular poem is identified, we then need to read it again and again silently, aloud and varying the tone and speech to get a feel for it. All the while, letting our imaginations soar with the words in the poem. Then follows the interpretation of the poem. For instance, suppose the poem contains the line ‘the sky, azure, turns red in the eve’- what is its interpretation? Perhaps, the blue sky is being equated to tranquillity before violence breaks out later. Again, the author could simply be making an observation on changes in the sky on a certain afternoon with nary a deeper meaning. The important consideration is to place the line in context with the poem in totality, then argue out your inference. In summary, as with truth, poetry is relative.

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