To ask this question is pointless, I give you that. Yet it’s like wondering what the meaning of art is and why man started painting on these cave walls back in the day; you can’t help it! I suppose the suitable answer would be “why ask?” as we can’t possibly come out with a satisfying explanation (although brain specialists and memory experts will tell you that everything we let out of our minds, like when we express ourselves on paper, on canvas, on cave walls, relieves our brain loaded with too many memories). That theory states that what has been let out can then be erased from the inside of our heads, and thus create room so that we may start hoarding again. But I am going off topic, this is not the point of my post – not really. What I would like to do today is going on an expedition to try and penetrate the fascinating land of poetry.
When we look at, say, Wordsworth’s two-part Prelude – to take a barely ever mentioned master of the poetic landscape (yes, I tend to like unsung heroes, how unusual) – we associate the purpose and benefits of poetry to childhood memories. What the poet put on paper there concerns his remembrance of happy events that occurred during his youth. Is poetry a way to reach back to a long gone blissful time, or is it simply about telling and sharing tales? I think both aims are at stake in this case, and what Wordsworth also seems to have to deal with is regret. To me, the sadness in Wordsworth’s writing has something to do with powerlessness, either his own or human beings’ in general. We are powerless to regain what we have lost over time, like years and dearly departed, and powerless to make plans for the future because we don’t know what it’s made of, and it really scares us. What is left for us to work on is the present, but we are as powerless to manage this one as we are with the others, since we are too busy complaining about our powerlessness. So we feel sorry for ourselves, and we write poetry.
That’s how I feel when I read Wordsworth’s poetry – don’t get me wrong, I love being depressed by others’ poetic worries – and to be honest, poetry is about feelings and emotions, so I can’t be completely wrong. When I say poetry is about feeling, that encompasses both how the author and the reader feel. I believe poetry is a successful combination of the two. Here, for example, Wordsworth tells us anecdotes about his happy-go-lucky childhood and how looking back at it now makes him realise how nice it was to be carefree, how quickly these moments fly and never return. Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Maybe his poetry is beautiful because I feel sorry for him, maybe he reaches his goal as a poet because I once felt what he expresses in his verse. Fairly, I don’t know how poetry works. But if it involves compassion, Nature, grief and sorrow, joy and happiness, I think I might have found some meaning to it, which may just lie in enjoying your reading, enjoying the moment.
Aren’t these great poets powerful!