About Poetry – And My Verse Explained

Real Poetry – And My Verse Explained – by bobill

Note – Text enclosed by brackets [ ] is a link to further reading.
I have loved poetry as far back as I can remember, and now, after years of reading and studying poetry and poets, I have a little better appreciation and understating of what poetry is about. My all-time favorite poem [“Elegy Written a Country Courtyard”] by the English poet, Thomas Gray (1716-1771, a poem that is bound to stir the emotions of almost all readers. My all-time favorite poet is [Emily Dickinson (1830 –1886)] one of the most famous American poets, who lived almost her entire life in the same house in Amherst, Massachusetts and who wrote nearly 1700 poems.

This remainder of this post is not about poetry in general, but about my own amateurish attempts to express myself in verse. I started writing down lines of verse almost as soon as I starting to read and enjoy poetry. My preference has always been for pre-twentieth century poetry, which is mostly written in rhyme, so most of my verse has some rhyming scheme. Much of my verse is not original in style, but rather copies the styles of other poets. It was some time after I began writing verse before I realized that I was doing that, but I haven’t worried much about it. I have included some of my verse here, along with notes about the verse or circumstances under which I wrote it.

Katie Smiled
Katie Smiled when we met –
Looking up from the chair she sat in;
Ann Landers, you love to get
Sweets into your column –
So, put this in:
Say I’m romantic,
Say I’m a fool …
By looks and brains denied,
Say I’m over the hill –
but add: Katie Smiled.

I wrote the above poem about a real-life incident and a real person named Katie, and it emulates the style, form and content of the poem, [“Jenny Kissed Me”] by Leigh Hunt.

A Promise Made
Alas, the last I saw my friend,
I told her I’d see her after;
Now all is left is my regret
And memory of her laughter.
The void between that promise made –
And when it’s finally kept
Exceeds the universe I know
In length – and height – and depth.

I wrote the verse above after the unexpected death of a dear friend. It is written in the style of Emily Dickinson, one that builds drama in the first stanza and then resolves that drama in the second. The verse is also similar in purpose to one of Dickinson’s poems.

If my being sad –
would make you happy,
I’d go out and gather grief –
Invest in desperation –
Beyond most all belief,But if I saw you happy,
There would go my grief –
And with it my investment –
No bailout – no relief.

If my being happy –
would make you happy,
I’d go out and corner joy –
Invest in love and charity
And watch my fortunes grow.
I’d share that joy forever
Compounded interest – that –
No bank could hold the dividends
My investment would begat.

This above verse is also written in the style of Emily Dickinson, but using an investment metaphor for love was my own idea.

The Price of War
Join up brave young patriot –
Duty calls – and pride,
With flags a-waving smartly –
And a parent at each side:
One who asks you not to go,
And one who cheers you on,
Reluctant mother, willing dad –
The seeds unequal sown.
Welcome home fallen hero –

With solemn steps – and pride,
In flag-draped coffin – carried –
With a parent at each side:
One who begged you not to go,
And one who cheered you on,
Grieving mother, regretful dad –
The burden equal borne.

The verse above is one of my all-time favorites. It suggests a disagreement between a young soldier’s parents over his volunteering for military service which adds to the sorrow of losing a son – and it brings home the emotional conflict between service to country and the attendant sacrifices involved.

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