Poetry is Magic: Osmosis

To continue your education on poetry, my doves, I’m going to ask you to read this essay: “Stored Magic” by our now familiar friend, Edward Hirsch.

In it, Mr. Hirsch talks about how a poem is an immortal entity, something that can transcend time and culture. He also reminds us that poems are not meant to be understood, necessarily, but felt.

Don’t worry if you think you’ve missed the poet’s message. It will come in time, you’re smart. Focus on what you feel when you read the poem and go from there.

For instance, Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” makes little sense in places, but it’s not supposed to make sense. It should get you to imagine a mysterious place where a mysterious monster lives. It’s a nonsense poem that tells a story, an adventure. It takes a familiar theme (adventure) and makes it unfamiliar (what is a bandersnatch, anyway?), thus making it feel more exciting. More urgent.

“The Jabberwocky.” Illustration by Peter Newell

I bet you had fun reading it, eh? Silly, right? Made you giggle? Well, good. That’s what matters. Let it sink in and figure out what it means later. Look up the author’s intent later. But for now, just feel it. Roll it around in your mouth like a fine wine and savor it.

Settle in to the poem as if it’s your favorite armchair. Get all cozy. Have a nap. Then, and only once you’ve really felt it, start looking for the meaning. Things will be much clearer when you’re  under the spell.
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