Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Fine words butter no parsnips

Poet and novelist ozarque asks this question this morning:

I'm trying to write a brief paper, and I've been struggling with it for days... Suppose the question to be answered is: "Is poetry important?" And then the question is: "Why is (or isn't) poetry important?"

Some answers so far here.

here is the answer I gave - expressed in clumsy language, ironically:

Poetry is important because it tries to render things that aren't easy (or even possible) to express in words. It does this by making use of attributes of language which don't normally carry information (which would normally be noise in the signal) to improve the signal.

A better answer would be to quote a piece of poetry, and a couple of people do that in the answers.

William Carlos Williams:

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

I would have used Shelley:

'Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind'

I think poets are legislators because what we can conceive and value is (to some extent) shaped by what we can express, and how we express it. But perhaps poetry only works (can only work) in this way for some people, and others get the same stuff via different senses - music or paintings. Or perhaps the knock-on effects of poetry (and other arts) permeate to the whole of society.

Can you suggest poems that show what poetry is for?
  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic