|Image courtesy of sxc.hu and Ann-Kathrin Rehse of Germany.|
Thanks to various friends in various places online who have expressed interest in the memory palace posts. Perhaps I'll do a few more... This little post is in response to a comment, and is a 5-minute stab at defining the word poem. (It might have been longer, but I have only just now decided not to expire from my hideous cold, and don't expect to process thought for longer than five minutes at a go.) Feel free to invent your own definition and leave in the post comments (preferably before you read mine), or to argue with mine (after you read it, that is!) I don't imagine that my quick definition is anything like the last word, given how tricky the job is.
Made by its maker, a poet, out of syllables and pauses, a poem is a vessel that: contains language that to some degree (more or less) approaches music via play with pause and the sounds of vowels and consonants (and may include rhyme, meter, and rhetorical figures of sound) and yet is not music; pours out the truth while insisting on retaining mystery and strangeness; depends on lineation and insists that every element of the poem (line break and end words, stanza break, alliteration, word choice, punctuation, etc.) must express the will of the poem. If it does not do these things, the vessel will not hold water.Admission: The above definition does leave out some artifacts that are commonly called poems. It is in direct opposition to certain Duchampian creations and plagiarisms of texts that are called poems, for example.
The poem also has a duty not to bore the reader. It achieves that aim by surprising the writer.
Second admission: The above post is entirely too parenthetical. (Sorry!)
Third admission: I am well aware that I left out feeling. Still thinking about that one, and how it functions with certain poets not much read now like Pope and Johnson.