As the iconic Taylor Swift said in her song ‘The Lakes’, I wonder if every poet wants to be ‘taken to the lakes where all the poets went to die’. I know that I do. The realm of poetry tends to fall flat to most young people because it is limited to dramatic Instagram accounts and those English literature textbooks we dread opening. Today, we explore the vast ends of poetry that tend to draw writers and readers alike for the sense of solace they provide to either, or more often, both.
(Candles and books)
The most well-known genre of poetry is the one with the least bounds. I often wonder if that is paradoxical: as a civilization, we look for order at all institutional levels while we sacrifice it all, scribbling away on the back of restaurant bills on late, forlorn nights. Free-verse has permeated the world of writers for as long as it has existed. It symbolizes not only a literary absence of control, but also a conceptual one. The writer is not bound by any structure of permanence or consistency, perhaps mirroring their stream of consciousness. Conceivably, their lack of meter suggests the fluidity of emotion people experience but are rarely able to express this in words. Maybe this is The Lake Swift spoke about, where all poets go to die: where we experience that stillness of freedom and expression. Where we fully embody the beauty of fluidity.
A powerful form of expression of free-verse poetry is Spoken Word. While it does require a meter, it also provides creators with a voice, literally and figuratively. They are free to experiment with modulation and irregular meters to their work to create a unique impact. Historically, poetry has often been a communal event, bringing people of diverse backgrounds together. Spoken Word Poetry continues to honor this tradition. There is a different kind of intimacy that spoken word expels, where regardless of whether you are in the spotlight or the audience, you exchange a piece of your soul with someone else in the room. One never leaves as the same person they were when they walked in.
Now coming to more structured forms of poetry, one of my favorites; sonnets. They are synonymous with classic artists like Shakespeare, W.B Keats and William Wordsworth. Rather than me explaining the intricacies of this genre, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 (first published in 1609) could do it for you. The two fundamental rules include: it is always in iambic pentameter, each line being ten syllables. It consists of three parts divided into four lines each and ends with a rhyming couplet. While the words in these poems are deceptively bound by rules, the emotions are free, as Sonnet 116 would exemplify.
Lastly, I want to mention more nuanced and ludicrously creative aspects of poetry: elegies – the poetic counterpart of a eulogy. The only rule for these poems is that they must be written on the subject of death. This form of poetry speaks more for humanity than it does for its content. How incredible is it that we created an entire subsect of poetry to solely understand such an unfathomable concept?
The purpose of this article is not to inform you of the genres that exist in the realms of poetry, but to take a moment to revel in their beauty and power to move our hearts. It often is such an impactful creation of humanity to express themselves but is lost in translation because of the noise of grandiose words like success, conformity and security. In a mundane world so overshadowed with the monotony of our 9-5 jobs, poetry is a medium of relief that should move from entertainment to necessity. It is time we fathom our power as human beings through the power of poetry.
(Sonnet 116, Shakespeare)
Authored By: Rachita Jain
Edited By: Aditi Kiran