What is Poetry?

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What is Poetry?

According to Webster's Dictionary, poetry is defined as "writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm." While this is the technical definition of poetry many writers attempted to further describe what poetry is. There are many contradicting views and no one can agree what is the essence of poetry. Some poets think that poetry is the expression of emotions and rules do not matter, while other poets suggest the poetry is all about the rules and the rhythm that must be followed. The perfect mix to define poetry is somewhere in between.

E.E. Cummings suggests, "feeling is first who pays any attention to the syntax of things." According to Cummings, poetry is purely defined by the feelings the poem expresses and syntax plays no role. This is evident when he writes "for life's not a paragraph And death I think is no parenthesis." While poetry must express feelings and must create "imaginary gardens with real toads in them." Poetry cannot be defined by these standards alone. After all, without certain rules to define poetry any expression of emotion can be defined as poetry. While it is true that the main purpose of poetry is to create worlds and express emotions, poetry must also accomplish more.

Poetry must be music in the form of words. Some poets believe the definition of poetry is in the music it creates. "Smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong." Alexander Pope believed that a poem must be pleasant to the ear. A poem must follow certain rules. A poem can never "ring round the same unvaried chimes" and "[drag] its slow length along." Poems must "[whisper] through the trees" to please the reader's ear. For a poem to create music the poem must follow certain rules. What is the usefulness of a poem if it doesn't communicate any emotions to the reader in the end? It is nice to hear pleasant sounds but the goal of a poem cannot just be to produce pleasant sounds.

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