Does poetry have a purpose? If so, then what?
I noticed today that by far the majority of WordPresss bloggers who have been kind enough to like or follow my blog are poets. It set me thinking.
Why on earth would a poet want to read anything I write? Then I realized that perhaps my goal and that of a poet are in fact the same. And that therefore there may not be so much difference between my prose and their poetry.
My URL is “zenothestoic”. The title of my Blog is ” Weltanschauung ” – a Search for the Soul. According to Wikipedia:
Weltanschauung is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it.
In a sense I have been writing “poetry” or at least writing prose but in a style which resembles somewhat the style of poetry.
So if I have been writing poetry, to what end?
Well I think the title of my Blog probably gives my game away. The purpose of my poetry (or prose, if you insist) is to help me understand the world and my place in it. Exactly the same purpose underlies my flirtatious dalliance with religion, art and music.
And I suspect in essence poets (real poets) write poems for much the same reason. Including those who wrote the beautiful Book of Psalms.
There is poetry even in science. When I read Richard Dawkin’s “Unweaving the Rainbow” I saw his sense of wonder and compared it, strangely, with that of a mystic or a poet.
Because Dawkins believes he deals with science. And he does. But from science he gets much the same sense of wonder, much the same sense of pantheistic mystery as I might get from reading the Psalms aloud in a windswept and empty Norman church in the middle of the Shires.
Science is wonder. Yes, science seeks rather more practical applications for its answers but it nonetheless receives a sense of awe from its subject matter – the universe, its origins and its “purpose”. Or its workings, in any event.
So in a sense I see the same “use” and “purpose” in many different fields.
In my case, poetry helps me to see and experience wonder. Even a war poem can help me to understand life, to broaden my horizons while confirming my view that life should not be about war. Or indeed hatred or any of our destructive emotions.
My old Sweet etcetera is a case in point. What an absurdity, that war; any war. And foolish relatives at home taking pride in their son’s death and misery in the trenches.
So for me the purpose of poetry is both to free and to focus my mind, if that makes any sense to you. A poem can make my mind soar like a mystic to dance in the sheer beauty of creation. But at the same time it can reaffirm the absurdity of most of what we humans wrongly consider important.
Without poetry, art and music we would be dead souls, condemned to wander in the dark.