What Good Poetry Does

Yes, it’s been a long time since I last posted. And yes, I don’t have an excuse. But I’m not going to make one up. The truth is that I had plenty of opportunities to post. I just didn’t. Maybe it had something to do with the abnormally cold winter that Michigan experienced this year? (It was nice getting snow days at first, but after a while it was miserable. Sucked out all the motivation.) Maybe senioritis kicked in and I felt like doing absolutely nothing, including updating my blog?

I don’t know. But hey, better late than never, right? On to what this post is really about:

This is the last stanza in the poem “The Secret of the Sea” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

Longfellow might have been referring to the ocean, but good poetry does the exact same thing. It sends a thrilling pulse through me. And then I think to myself, “I want to write like that!”

To be honest, I think that’s the best possible thing poetry can do. Inspire you to write your own. Great writing makes you feel something, but the best writing makes you write something. It’s kind of like when you listen to music that’s so beautiful it makes you shiver. And then you wonder what it would be like if you could do something like that; what if that gorgeous sound you’re hearing were made by you?

Writing poetry is about expressing yourself, but it’s also about putting your thoughts and emotions somewhere. It’s about putting something of yours into the world. And it might seem insignificant, but it’s not. Because it’s yours, and it’s in writing, and it’s there. Even when you’re gone, the writing stays.

I like that. I like the thought of an author or a poet living on through his or her words. I don’t think you have to be famous for that to happen, either. Someone will have read it. Someone will read it in the future. And that, I think, is enough.

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