Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Poem - Thoughts Evoked by Keats' Fears

Poetry is dying. It has been on a slow, but steady, decline for over a century. Who buys a book of poetry anymore unless it is required for a class? What book publisher would want to market a book of poems by one author, unless that author is one of the greats from the past? Does poetry matter anymore?

It is arguable that poetry certainly has been in a state of decline from the popularity it once possessed. Back in the 1700s, poets were respected and valued. Some wonderful poetry came out of that time period, as well as the 1800s. It was the way for writers to make a living, at one point in time. Can a poet make a living anymore? Perhaps by working another job during the day.

The introduction of the printing press, which led to the popularity of the novel, was the event which has bled the fame from poetry. People read novels all the time. Aspiring writers dream of writing the 'next great novel' not the next bestselling book of poetry. The New York Times Best Sellers list doesn't even list poetry as a category. It lists manga, paperback graphic novel and hardcover graphic novel. Not poetry.

Maybe I am the rarity who loves to read poetry. I would love to become a renowned poet. I look to the work of the Romantics for inspiration: Keats, Wordsworth, Shelley. They could command emotion. They could make a place come to life with their poems. The abstract could become concrete. Their poetry has been an inspiration for my own poems during the past few years.

One of the problems that I think people have with poetry is that it defies their logic. They want to read a line at a time, and then get confused when things don't seem to flow together. Yes, there are many poems where the poet intentionally makes the end of each line a stop. If you read poetry from many of the great poets of the past, this will not always be the case. Instead you read by following the punctuation to indicate the pauses, and the flow will follow naturally. My best advice is to read the poem aloud. It is a form of writing that is meant to be spoken and shared. A poem that seems bland in your mind could become vibrant simply by vocalizing it and adding inflection upon words and phrases.

The poem for today's entry was inspired by a poem of John Keats. I tried to imitate the same form he used in his poem. Try reading this poem, as well as the Keats poem I linked to above, both to yourself in your mind and then aloud. See if it makes a difference. I promise you it will be better when you say the words.


Thoughts Evoked by Keats’ Fears

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my dreams can come to fruition,
It gives me pause for a moment, that we
Shall never see my name’s publication.
The untold tales are forever lost
Leaving behind no trace of legacy,
No more time with loved ones is quite a cost,
To see them no more would be a tragedy.
To depart from this world having tasted,
But never fully enjoyed, the blissful effects
Of finding my one true love
Who completes my heart and soul.
Alone with these thoughts I sit and wonder
Until these dark shades drift asunder.


  1. Congrats on grabbing the very last available post tonight at yeah write? Can I come back tomorrow to comment on your poem? Thanks for joining us!

  2. That was supposed to be a period, not a question mark. It's been a long day. The editor in me demanded I double-comment and point out my typo.

  3. I'm glad I was able to make it in time! I'd love it if you came back tomorrow to comment on the poem. I've already started thinking about what to blog about this week to enter into next week's Yeah Write. I think discovering that might be quite beneficial in the long run!

    And the editor in me would double-comment, too. You are forgiven.

  4. This post thrills me! I write poetry and read it all the time (love my poetry collection). Your homage to Keats is wonderful.

  5. Who says poetry is dead? It has never been a mainstream thing but it will never die! Have you read Frank X. Walker's stuff? He recently got a $75,000 grant and is fabulous: http://www.frankxwalker.com/
    Or my personal favorite, who I have heard read in person - and he GROWLS when he reads! Unconsciously, too. It's something else - Paul Durcan (my favorite collection - Greetings to Our Friends in Brazil.)

    Keats poem said "of the wide world I stand alone and think...til fame and love into nothingness do sink" or something like that...all poets, in my opinion, are grappling with the notion that poetry is dying out and that they are on the outskirts of society, seeing it. I really do not think that poetry is waning! These people will be around til the end.
    Also - with the traditional publishing waning as it is, and the ability to self-publish and e-publish - poetry may even have a resurgence. (-:
    Signed, a true believer !

  6. I admit that poetry has never thrilled me - which is odd considering my love of language and writing. But while I can appreciate poetry, it will never be a part of my soul. And I really do think a love of poetry stems from the soul - you've either got it or you don't.

    That said, I thought your poem was beautiful, and it certainly spoke to me as a fellow would-be writer as I continue to try to figure out what I want to be when I grow up... and what I hope to someday leave behind.

  7. Amazing - how reading a poem aloud changes everything. I'm not new to that line of thinking, but as you noted - poetry is taking a backseat. What a nice piece you've shared with us. Thank you. Your version of Keat's poem is excellent, especially when read aloud.

  8. I knew Ado would rescue from your pit of despair. She is a font of literary info. I agree with her about the possibility of self-publishing. Your audience is out there somewhere, and it starts with the one you're finding with this blog.

    Would you mind availing yourself of the Twitter? Yeah write works so much better for those who use it regularly. Send me your username? Thanks!

    1. Of course. I can be found on Twitter under wiley_david. Thanks for the comments!

    2. Wow, my blathering comment got the coveted Comment Karma from Erica! See David? People even read cryptic poetry commentaries...it ain't dead man! (-:
      PS: Did you go read Frank X Walker's stuff?

  9. I'm a true lover of poetry. I may not always understand it, but I always enjoy it and the way it can transform and play with language. I really enjoyed your poem as well. I really loved your last pair of lines, read aloud they are delightful and almost lyrical.

    Nice post!! Coming from Yeah Write, and I think I've found a fellow literary nerd to be friends with :)

  10. I'm shocked that poetry isn't a category on the New York Times bestseller list. I have to admit, I wasn't a big fan of poetry. But then the MC in my WIP started reading poetry to an old man and I had to do some research...and I found some really beautiful poems. Some of them I did not understand AT ALL. But the same is true of books. Not all are going to be everyone's cup of tea.

  11. I finally looked at something on the internet today that made me smarter. It does make a difference reading it aloud. I thought it was fine in my head, but it became beautiful when I spoke it aloud. I brought my 13 y/o in on this experiment and she agrees.

    See, you have touched the future. -Ellen

  12. I hope the stats are wrong and poetry is alive and well. Yours I like! Would buy a book of them, for sure!

  13. I enjoy poetry very much and believe most people do, but do not realize it. There is something intimidating about it. But if you ask one to recite a nursery rhyme, one can. And what is that? Poetry. Also, The limited character count for posts to social media almost make everyone a poet. A Tweet is almost a Haiku. . .A FB update a limerick. Not true to form, but do you see where I am going with this? Additionally, I think youth get most of their poetry from song lyrics. My kids (middle school) barely scrape the surface of poetry in their language arts courses. The perils of education in America: So many students, so many mandates, so little time.

    Great post. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to more.

  14. I love John Keats. I often still read poetry, if for no other reason than to enjoy the language. I think poetry is definitely a lost art form, and I love that you brought it back, even for a day. Thank you!!

  15. Beautiful poem, and for the record, I buy poetry books (but I'm an English teacher, so maybe I'm an exception).

  16. Lovely poem. I wonder if the poets of yesteryear are the lyricists of today.