Now and then I try my hand writing poetry. The results are inevitably disastrous. Happily, the worst poetry in the universe is not yet mine. That honor belongs to Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex. Any of you who know Douglas Adams will also know of whom I speak.
Does anyone even read poetry these days? As a subscriber to Poetry, 101-year-old journal founded by Harriet Monroe, I enjoy each issue, yet still find it difficult to identify what makes a poem good. Whatever you do, don’t read Understanding Poetry by J. Evans Pritchard, PhD.:
To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech. Then ask two questions: One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. Question one rates the poem’s perfection, question two rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining a poem’s greatness becomes a relatively simple matter.
If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.
So says a character in “Dead Poets Society”. In fact, you can’t read it: the book, its author and the analytical tool are works of fiction.
The problem du jour is simply this: I need a poem about “home”, surely one of the most abused words in the English—and probably most others. But I need that poem, one that explores that breadth of meaning in bitter-sweetness. Find one for me please—preferably one that is free of copyright restriction.
In artistic terms, I’m hoping for something more gemütlichkeit than “Thomas Kinkade”.