Music Embodied in Words

The best poems express something that cannot be expressed in other words. Change a word, a syllable, and you’ve changed the expression. If I can read a poem with the same ease and certainty as I do a billboard or newspaper, it’s probably not a poem, though it may be propaganda.”

Thus spoke Anecdotal Evidence, giving us a good reason for accepting difficulty in poetry and persevering to understand it. The fundamental problem with this is that modern readers don’t know if a poem is worth trying to understand. Are there not plenty of poems written by pretentious post-grads who draw inspirations from personal experiences which outside readers cannot possible understand, like Bilbo riddling with the dragon on his adventures outside the Shire? What helps a reader persevere through a poem? For me, it’s the confidence or hope that I’m reading a great poet. So I will work to enjoy Yeats and Eliot, but P.J. Smithe?

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