Before there was writing, before there was prose and certainly an age before there were such things as “texts”, “tweets” and “status updates,” there was poetry.
Last week I felt very privileged to hear our pupils in years 3-6 perform their Burns’ inspired poetry. They had very little time to draft, craft and rehearse their work but the pieces they performed during Friday’s celebration assembly were both beautiful and impressive.
Throughout history, poetry has been written to address a vast array of subject matters, including love, war, social issues, the beauty of nature and the love of God. For our special Burns Day our children chose to write about love, spring, foxes and Robbie Burns himself.
Poetry at its best calls forth our deeper being. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind and to take a risk, to experiment, to play around with words and express ourselves. It is a magical art, and always has been — a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never have dared to dream of. It hints; it suggests; it insinuates, often without resolving into anything concrete. Whether it rhymes or scans or just deposits words onto a page, what makes poetry poetry is its ability to hover in a place where things can be and not be, both at the same time.
So why write a poem?
With its sounds and rhythms poetry reaches down below the realm of the conscious mind to awaken and nourish the imagination. Poetry can help us figure out how we feel. Putting our words on paper allows us to organise our thoughts and therefore deal with our emotions. This can help us cope when things don’t go as planned or allow us to express our happiness and delight when we succeed.
By writing a poem, you can also show off your unique perspective on life. Poetry is a powerful form of self-expression whereby we can communicate our thoughts to the world. Whatever your message, a poem can give you an opportunity to communicate it eloquently and or pass it on if you read your poetry out loud or publish your work. Not everyone will understand what you are trying to say but that, in itself, is one of poetry’s greatest appeals – you can express your thoughts and ideas in a unique way and each person reading your poems will interpret their own meaning in a different way.Bottom of Form As T.S. Eliot said, “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” And I think the opening from his work ‘Burnt Norton’ sums this up very well…
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
T.S.Eliot – Burnt Norton