poetrypoeticspleasure“, as the name suggests, is about aesthetic pleasure resulting from experiencing literature or verbal art, it’s about a critical awareness of literature and literariness and about poetry (including dramatic poetry). The last term needs some more thought.

What is Poetry? Well, in my past, and in my lectures, I’ve never answered this question with certainty or finality. Now is the time and this the page to do that. As it is difficult and faulty to attempt a one line definition, I’ll try to offer characteristics upon which there may be some sort of agreement. And yes, whatever I write here about poetry will only be based on my knowledge of English Poetry as I have rudimentary exposure to poetry in my mother tongue Hindi. Poetry may have some or many of the characteristics mentioned below.

For a modern reader, and not audience, poetry is a thing on page or screen, i.e. a visual form. Alternately, for an audience, it may be taken as an aural-oral form that is for listening to and reciting. As “history is bunk” (Henry Ford), I will not refer to any book or critic to support me in this crucial venture. As a man cannot be but biased, so I am biased, and I am biased towards the aural-oral treatment of poetry. Therefore, it can be said finally that “poetry is a set of sounds that are arranged in a pattern that conforms to a wide range of available possibilities“. That raises the question of verse versus poetry.

Invoking Coleridge’s differentiation of verse from poetry proper, it can be said that poetry is not just a set of patterned sounds. It is much more. It has beauty or/and concentrated meaning in it and both are important. Beauty is given primacy as a defining characteristic of poetry because mere meaning can be conveyed in prose form too, and some say, in a better way. That does not mean that prose is not beautiful. How can a person who’s read even a page of prose in Bacon, The Bible, Dickens, or, if we follow Shelley’s drift in his “Defense”, Plato, can call prose not beautiful?

Poetic beauty, then, is different from beauty in prose (Remember to forget that there’s poetic prose of James Joyce and prose poetry of The Bible to disprove that point). Poetic beauty constitutes of sound patterns, rhythm, rhetorical figures, tropes, symbols, images and, even in this postmodern age of no fixed points, diction. A poem may not have all the characteristics mentioned above, but it does or may have many of them.  This blog is about creation and appreciation of poetry, about its theoretical questions : raised, answered and unanswered, and above all, about taking joy in it.

There is more for the lovers of poetry here: