Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Poetry is Difficult

Poetry is inherently difficult because its understanding requires three forms of knowledge:

The denotative meaning of words. That is, words "alone."

The connotative meaning of words. That is, words "in context."

And the archetypal meaning of words. That is, "hyper-contextual words"--words not in the context of the poem itself but in their historical use.

A well-written poem combines the three required forms of knowledge to create meaning on multiple levels--that is, "depth."

The problem with many poems is the direct neglect of one (or more) of these forms of knowledge--creating far more difficult--and ultimately less satisfying--works at the expense--or on the altar of "progress."

Once we understand that the arts do not progress--and that this includes poetry, we can embrace poetry for its inherent artistic value.

This means accepting that poetry, on its face, is "difficult"--moreso than prose--because it requires a greater depth of knowledge--and that there is little point in making it intentionally more difficult (to show ones "intelligence" perhaps?) in order to satisfy some overthought and overwrought "need" of the author.

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