An Essay on Poetry

Today’s NaPoWriMo optional prompt led me in this direction:


An Essay on Poetry


I read an article about the line

in poetry and how a poem needs

a longer line and asks the poet, “Does

a break enhance the meaning? And if not

then set a couple lines, or three or four

together into one extended line.

About the time that Kennedy and King were killed

and modernism died to be replaced

by a post-modern mindset, one in which

the world turned grey, and not the kinky grey

of domineering sex, but one where all

the verities were overturned, a world

where everything was always right and wrong;

a world without authority, a world

whose mantra soon became, “Well who’s to say?”

there was another essay on the line

and how and when to start another line.

The poet said you were supposed to end

the line grammatically. You end it with

the ending of a thought, a clause, a phrase;

except for emphasis, the poet might

decide to place important words apart

from where they really should be placed.

Of course the writer was attempting to

create a sense of structure in the line

of poetry that had been disemboweled

when meter was abandoned and then killed.

My favorite, though for how to write a line

of poetry was simply take a breath.

The line is ended when you have to breathe

again. Great lungs equate to longer lines.

But if you smoked, had emphysema, then

your lines would be much shorter. You could tell

a poet’s health by looking at his lines.

A healthy poet writes in longer lines

according to this theory of the line.

Of course it never really worked that way,

and now we’re post-post-modern and the line

we’ve all been writing now is obsolete.

The short line’s out. The longer line is in.

It was much easier with formal verse.

The line is over when you get to ten.

You count the syllables and stop at ten.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s