|Photo Copyright Janet Cameron|
People are always asking, "What is poetry exactly?" Recently someone even said, "Can't stand poetry. Why not just write an essay?" I explained this was a completely different art form. You might as well ask why a sculpture isn't a painting. But the lady didn't see that at all! Hmmm...
Still, some thinkers do try and succeed quite well.
I always quote Philip Larkin, "The best possible words in the best possible order."
Here are some lovely allusions to poetry from my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations:
Boswell: Sir, what is poetry?
Johnson: Why Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is, but it is not easy to tell what it is.
Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: It takes it origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity ~ William Wordsworth.
That willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all. ~ John Keats.
Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds. ~ Percy Bysse Shelley.
Prose = words in their best order; - poetry = the best words in the best order. ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry. ~ Gustave Flaubert.
Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. ~ Don Marquis.
And finally, from the incomparable Wendy Cope:
I used to think all poets were Byronic.
They're mostly wicked as a ginless tonic
And wild as pension plans.
Well, in the end we have to try to keep our feet on the ground, don't we?