Waxing Poetic

Waxing Poetic

I have always been adamant, and quite vocal, about my dislike of poetry. Sometimes, I’ve even been quite proud of it. Lately, however, I’ve been looking at it with more than a like confusion. I don’t understand why.

I can remember being in elementary school and memorizing the Jabberwocky. We all had to learn a poem, and I chose the longest piece out of anyone in the class, and with my memory, it was a long haul. But I wouldn’t switch, because I loved the nonsense, and I smiled when the Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, came whiffling through tulgey wood. I still do.

I can remember memorizing the whole Cremation of Sam McGee, for fun this time. Reading my grandmother’s illustrated copy over and over, as well as the matching version of the Shooting of Dan McGrew, which I was never quite as fond of. Love triangle have never been my thing, so I always preferred the strange things done in the midnight sun to the practical thieving of the lady that’s know as Lou.

I can remember, in between these, reading O Captain, My Captain! for the first time after finding it in one of my mother’s poetry collections. I didn’t think much of it at the time, too young, maybe, but it stayed with me enough to be revisited with more impact years later, when the students of the Dead Poet’s Society stood on there desk, calling to their Captain, who was leaving the school, not fallen and dead, but no less lost to them.

I have other memories, almost all long ago and far away. Obviously, I liked poetry at some point, then. I’ll admit to preferring the nonsense of Lewis Carroll to the seriousness of Walt Whitman, but at some point, the love was there. So where did it go?

I think, in part, it’s just in disguise. It hides behind melody and harmony, calling itself a love of music. And I do love music, but if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s not jus the sound of Leonard Cohen’s voice that prompts me to put his CD in the player. It’s the arrangement of the words as much as the notes, the images that hide in the lyrics that call to me and bring me back time and again to see The Future, or to join the crowd at Closing Time.

I know lyrics are poetry set to music. I’ve known that for years. So why the masquerade? Not all poets have a band behind them, nor should they. I’m doing myself a disservice, I think, to be excluding them. Worse yet, I’m making myself something of a snob.

I find that ironic, given my perception of poets as snobs themselves. That, I think, if my real problem. It’s not poetry I dislike as much as Poetry. I react badly to arrogance or pretension. To exclusivity and the idea that this one thing makes a person better than any other person. Of course, I dislike that in anything, in Literature, Academics, Politics, even Fandom (because there’s really nothing quite as annoying as a Trekkie putting on airs) or Life. If it’s one aspect, minimal and universal, then why am I cutting out a whole realm of experience?

I shouldn’t. That is the conclusion I have come to. It was a mistake to have done so in the first place. Fortunately, it’s a mistake I can rectify. Unfortunately, it’s dropped me into the water, with no land in sight. A deep vast sea of poets and pieces, with no idea where to turn to first. It’s not an insurmountable challenge, though. I think I should head to the islands that have stayed with me all these years. Back to the beginning to take my vorpal sword in hand, seek out the marge on Lake Labarge, and follow as the victor ship comes in with object won.

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