2005 September 7


There are very few poems I actually like. It's a personal thing, I suppose -- the common game of poets is to pack as much cryptic, impressionistic meaning as they can into as few words as possible. It becomes an intellectual puzzle to decode them. Some people enjoy that kind of thing, which is fair enough.

There are poems I like. "In Flanders Fields". Psalm 23 (King James Version). "The Charge of the Light Brigade". The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. "Me and My Monkey", just to show I don't object to a good metaphor. I think the key for me is that they are naturalistic enough that my brain doesn't have to engage any special decoding apparatus to understand them. Their poetic language amplifies the emotional content without interfering with basic comprehension.

Which brings me to: I also like this: Instructions, by Neil Gaiman.

When you reach the little house, the place your journey started, you will recognize it, although it will seem much smaller than you remember.


Although I have nothing against difficult poems ;), I quite like many modern (by which I mean, uh, 1900-1950ish) sonnets for precisely that reason you say -- straightforward, vernacular, honest language. (And such language within the confines of strict form! *swoon*) Auden's Sonnets from China or e.e.cummings's love sonnets are my favorites in this regard.

Posted by: Andromeda on September 7, 2005 06:39 PM
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