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‘Poetry’ can be defined in a multitude of ways: by dint of the unconfined diversity of its composition, its inspiration and influence, the aestheticism that triggers it, the authenticity that embodies it. It is delineated by the trueness of form, spontaneity of thoughts, the expression of unrestrained emotions, be it the inundation of passion or serenity of tranquility, wherever there is “truth”, there is poetry.

In contrast to being commonly perceived as just a leisurely pursuit to idle readers, the aspects of poetry are much wider and its importance greater. It is the general study and felicity of humanity through the ages, the thought process that nurtured civilization, sustained their being and fostered evolution of mind and soul. It is not just the picturesque string of words that carve and construct literary pieces, but a highly personalized language borne by the weight of emotions, particularly empathy.

Where history involves a solemn and careful examination of mankind through the ages, poetry, throughout its span, has explored the same with all the more solemnly approach. From the dark tainted pages of history, we are enlightened about the ravages and exploits of warfare at large, the panic-stricken world of 1914, which left behind grim reminiscences. Amidst all these, were rampant a certain flicker of hope, a fearsome urge for freedom and the impetuous belief in patriotic pride and gallantry. The interpretive versions of people were one thing, the sayings of a soldier from his victory on the front lines was another- much more frantic, much more dramatic and much more truthful, coming from the heart. Recounted by Rupert Brooke, from his first-hand experience of the First World War:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

Poetry is a source of divinity that consumes and empowers humans; it enshrines all that is worth remembering in life. It teaches us to live life to the fullest, being joyful and make the best of life while it lasts. It instigates us to dispel all negativity and despondency of life; and derive contentment from its pristine pleasures. Shakespeare makes a firm standpoint of this in his play The Merchant of Venice:

Let me play the fool.
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man whose blood is warm within
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster,
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish?

In the labyrinth of modern life, everyday life renders us incapable of enjoying nature’s beauty in all its supremacy and beauty. What the weary eye can’t see and the exhausted soul is deprived of, poetry offers a lucid natural light of their sublime reality. There is poetry in every creation of nature-from the seas with its tides surfing riotously in the moonlight to the tempestuous winds that proclaim their rage. Atmospherically outlined in Wordsworth’s poem, he enunciates his desire to merge with the song of nature and set right the cosmic tune which went offbeat amidst the daily hustle of our lives. He dreams of cherishing and worshipping nature by traversing lands where he would belong; have glimpses of Proteus rising from the oceanic depths and listen to hallowed Triton blowing his garlanded horn.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Poetry concocts our deepest desires, shapes them into the dream of life and breathes life into them. It shows us how thin the line of distinction is, between fiction and reality, if it at all there is one. The very proof of its surreal charisma lives on with it, as it has led and continues to lead mankind to make his life and the lives of others around him beautiful. Poetry entices us to dream, dream bigger and makes “life imitates art” happen; and which is, not surprising, considering that life itself is but ‘a dream within a dream’.

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

Human life is not unexplored by the impassioned whirlwinds of grief and agony. Sometimes we wash our eyelids and pour our hearts in poetry that cleanses our mind and soul. In others, we indulge in the feelings of woe; grapple, in thoughts and actions, against its idealistic exaggeration till exhausting oneself of the last atom of terror or pity. In the end, poetry elevates us from the depths of despair to the zenith of reflections of experience. A commonly used yet admirably creative (if originally imagined and meticulously executed) technique employed by many poets is to darken the pathos interspersed in an idealistic setting to a point where they cannot be helped but be deemed romantic. The peerless Emily Bronte is an immortal quintessence of such ingenuity:

Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave?

Suffice to infer, poetry is an objet d'art of the virtuous, erudite and philosophical side of our nature, as well as of the insightful and inquisitive. It needs strength of character and the power to feel things deeply and reflectively; and ought to appeal to our undulations of temperaments to be flawless.

It is not a downright imitation of nature or a mirror reflecting things the way they are, but signifies something beyond it- something that emanates and exists out of it. The poet’s own imagination, feelings and thinking adds new shapes, indigenous flavors and prismatic colors to it. The shifting lights of the poet’s perception, the ever-changing rise and fall in rhythm of life’s music transform the moods of poetry, just the way sunlight does in an impressionistic painting. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins brings into play fantastic imagery to paint with words the multi-hued marvels of nature and the undying glory of its Creator:

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Poetry is only the most pious form for fluency of passion, the most vibrant and meaningful, whether congenial or agonizing, callous or noble, delightful or distressing. It is the rightful harmony of the picture with the prose with feeling and style, which satiates the appetite of thought.

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