Essays & Short Stories

What poetry is to me

In the opening lines of Twelfth Night Orsino asks for more and more music because he is frustrated in his courtship of Olivia. Too much music may cure his obsession with his love for Olivia. If he gets so much of it his desire will be satiated and he will lose his appetite for it. Then the desire will be gone.

 “If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

I’m seldom happier than when I’m writing poetry. I get great pleasure out of writing other stuff too; novels, short stories and blog posts, mainly. In fact writing is my food of love and music is the accompaniment. But poetry is different in that it is always there somewhere in the ether playing gently alongside the other things I do. It never interferes. It floats in and out of my daily life totally at random and never feels like an intruder. And when it lands, as it always does sooner or later, I love the simplicity it brings with it. It has a mysterious way of expressing meaningful things in just a few words which are sometimes easily understood yet on other occasions require interpretation or deep scrutiny. And poems just appear from nowhere, calling me from round the corner or buzzing around in the cool morning air.

“I never have to plan them.

I couldn’t if I tried.

But if I tell you they are sent from heaven;

Then probably I’ve lied.”

You see; just like that from nowhere. No thought, no planning and no preconception, really, honestly that came – from, I know not where – right now as I am writing this post. It must have been hiding under the desk.

In fact if I am truly honest I am not a writer of poetry. I am a collector. I capture the stuff as I go about my daily life, like those four lines above that came from nowhere. I write bits and pieces down sometimes and then a poem appears out of the pieces or ideas. But mostly the poem arrives, unannounced as a whole, already written and as beautiful as the most exquisite butterfly that plays with you daring you to try to catch her. So although I have to act quickly I only have to write it down. I know it sounds too easy but often it actually is.

Maybe I’m lucky because I don’t have to answer to anyone. No-one is looking over my shoulder saying that’s crap, write it again or that’s not too bad. No publisher, no newspaper editor expecting stuff on demand. I couldn’t do that. I could never write for a living. It’s a passion. I only do it for my own amusement and if I like the stuff I keep it and post it on my blog. If I don’t like it then it goes in the bin. I’m not so desperate I have to try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

So there you have it; no secret formula, I can’t hurt anyone and if just one person likes one poem I write then I am a little happier that day.

Your comments are welcome