Poetry of the Ignorant

I haven’t always had the best relationship with poetry. At least until I was partway through college, I would have to read a poem a dozen times before it made much sense to me. I even felt a little stupid with my lack of comprehension, and decided that my brain just wasn’t geared for poetry. I felt a little better when I read in Charles Darwin’s biography that he had similar feelings about poetry. At some points in my life,I have discovered that I can understand poetry better than at other times, but the spikes of poetry comprehension usually correspond to depressions in philosophy comprehension–and since I have focused so much time and energy into philosophy, I even decided for awhile that if poetry costs me philosophy, then I ought to just steer clear of it altogether.

In the past, I have had an admittedly narrow, dry mind. I like the clear reasons and explanations that philosophers aim for, and became annoyed with the ambiguous or vague symbolism in poetry. The art was lost on entirely.

That has changed in the past year or so. Gradually, I found myself picking up poetry spontaneously, because I wanted to expose myself to it. Still, my comprehension was low, despite my increased desire. Then, about six to eight months ago, I found that I was slowly comprehending it after a read or two, like my powers of comprehension had actually grown. What was obscure before was now clear, like someone who had learned years of mathematics in a short amount of time looking at equations and formulae as they had never seen it before. I don’t know what accounted for this change, but in the time since, I have expanded my poetry collection quite a bit. It’s still not large, but I buy more as I read more.

Even more recently, I have started to write a bit of poetry (as demonstrated by two recent posts). I do not feel talented in this, but the value of writing, I’ve found, has more to do in the writing than in the sharing. Something about poetry writing forces me to confront my self in ways that other types of reflection and writing do not. Each time I write something, I experiment a little more, and find something new in my act of creation. I look forward to doing more of it.

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