I was recently asked what sort of poetry is the best. It's an interesting question, but kind of like asking what sort of food is the best. Not an easy thing to do when you can enjoy a wide variety. And like food, some poetry can be liked by one person, and despised by another. Perhaps the better question would have been, what are my favourite varieties of poetry and why? And what are a few examples? Well, I'm glad you asked.
This is the type of poetry most people think of. It's a simply written, rhyming piece; such as the following.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast.
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
- Joyce Kilmer
Poems can also express how one is feeling at any given moment. Rita, a character from the film 'Groundhog Day' was disgusted by Phil's egotism and gluttony. She found the best way to describe her feeling by quoting partially from "Breathes There The Man". Read the following excerpt and see if you can tell how Rita feels.
Breathes There The Man
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
- Sir Walter Scott
Sometimes poets just wants to make you smile or laugh. If you think about it, a lot of Dr. Seuss's books are written in a poetic style. Or take the 'Owl Critic' by James Thomas Fields. Surely, it stresses a point, but funny none-the-less. When I was much younger and first started writing poetry I did so to be funny. Following is one I wrote, it's a poem parody. Can you guess the poem it parodies?
I think that I shall never see
an insect lovely as a bee.
A bee whose hungry mouth is pressed
against honey, second rate at best.
A bee that can’t see all day
because to many eyes are in the way.
A bee that may in summer wear
A risky yellow – people stare.
Upon whose belly honey has lain
and sticks to windows on the train.
Parodies are made by fools like me
but only honey comes form the bee.
Making A Point
When I first started taking poetry seriously, it was in High School when we were required to read and comment on what different poems meant. This poem quickly became a favorite as I always felt invisible to everyone else. Almost as if she were writing directly to me.
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
- Emily Dickinson
Embracing the Dark Side
I'm a person who has always embraced my emotions, both positive and negative. So reading some thought provoking or ominous poems can be enjoyable. Many have heard of the Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, it's one I quite enjoy. Death is a part of life, and Poe captures the imagery of such quite fantastically. It's certainly worth a read. In my endeavour to be a well rounded writer, I've tried my own hand at writing poems of a darker nature. I've included one I recently did.
It was a quiet and lonely night
As I closed my eyes in thought
Feeling the rush of wind on my face
And then I was scared no more
I was calm and my body went limp
Remembering the joy of youth
All was safe and I was happy
And then I remembered school
I was awkward and dysfunctional
But my friends were just as much
We were ready to take the world
And then I remembered Melinda
Had an embarrassing crush on her
She was my love and desire
But it was false and unrequited
And then I remembered Mary
Our wedding was delightful
Found someone who wanted me
Willing to give her all I could
And then realized it was a scam
And then I remembered all the fights
And then I remembered when she left
And then I remembered what I had done
And then I hit the ground
- J.A. Scott
So what do you think is the best poetry? Ooops, sorry. What varieties of poetry do you like, and which are you partial to?
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
- Lewis Carroll