Only in a poem

Some things, they say, are better not said. Other things, I think, are better only said in poetry.

It is with their talent for unexpected turns of phrase and surprising patterns of sound that poets make us say things that we normally would not dream of – whether it is about ourselves, about others, or even to others. When else, but in poetry, would you say to your beloved “I love you much (most beautiful darling)”? But because ee cummings wrote it, it became possible (and maybe even wonderful, if your beloved loves poetry – and cummings). When else, but in poetry, would you hear that “concoctions are keen to fulfil a role / in furthering peace between body and soul”? But because Eybers wrote it, you can defend your own concoctions accordingly. When else, but in poetry, would you agree that “The frost performs its secret ministry”? But because Coleridge described it thus, it becomes possible. When, but in poetry, would you call the early-morning sun a “Busy old fool”? But because the speaker in Donne’s poem gave voice to his annoyance in this manner, so can you.

I could continue. Examples of poetry beautifying our world, our words, our references, would only end if poetry does, which seems (hopefully) unlikely. The poet Shelley poetically captures its essence: “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”

List of poems referred to:

“I love you much (most beautiful darling)” – ee cummings

“Concoctions” – Elisabeth Eybers

“Frost at midnight” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“The sun rising” – John Donne



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