Add new comment

Poetry is one of the few things that I know of that can make me think, laugh, cry, get angry, become confused, reminisce, feel connected with others, and get excited about life all at the same time. Poetry is one of those things that I think can really connect people and bring them together. It is something that can be about literally anything! It is an art form that many can do, but few can master. I truly envy those masters. They have such a way with words that they know just what to say and how to say it that it seems like they know so much about life and the world. But, in reality, they are just like the individuals that read their work. They have questions and fears and hopes and dreams just like their readers. That is one of the reasons why I think poetry is so beautiful, it connects readers to a deeper human experience, whether they know it or not.
What stuck with me the most from this interview was the portion about the “truth” of poetry. Alexander said it perfectly when she stated that a poem’s truth “is actually much deeper than whether or not something really happened”, rather, “what matters is [the] undergirding truth” of it. In T.S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, it does not matter if the speaker did or did not actually walk along the beach wearing pants made of white flannel. What matters is that he has finally come to terms with his life as it is at that moment. He has accepted his life for what it is; something that many people (in reality, or fantasy) cannot always bring themselves to do. I believe that all poems have this quality about them, some sort of “undergirding truth” as Alexander puts it. I think that is why poetry has the ability to appeal to so many people.
In a majority of the poems I have read, I have been able to find something in it or about it that speaks to me. One such poem is one that I read not too long ago by W. S. Merwin called “To the Old”. The first stanza of “To the Old” reads “[b]y now you could almost / be anyone and by now / it seems that is who you are”. Even though I have read this poem, this stanza, many times over, I still cannot quite put my finger on what it is that makes it stick in my brain as profoundly as it does. Maybe it is because I cannot help but think of someone saying this to me many years down the road when I am old and gray and how I would feel about it. I am not saying that I want to go down in history as the ‘woman who saved the world’, or even that I want to “go down in history” in general. I do not want to be forgotten, though. Essentially, my philosophy is that if I can help at least one person, or positively impact at least one person’s life and be remembered for it (even if it is all that I am remembered for), then I can say that I have served my purpose. Ironically, this is very similar (although much, much less eloquently worded) to Emily Dickinson’s poem “If I can stop one heart from breaking”.
When I read or listen to a piece of poetry, I am surrounded by this bubble of words and taken to a place that is just me and the poem, nothing else is there if I do not want it to be. It is in this place that I have learned (and still continue to learn) many things about life, the world, and myself. Eventually, I have to leave my little paradise, and come back to reality, but the words, images, memories, and lessons I learned follow me everywhere I go. As long as I have poetry, I will never be alone.