Why poetry is underrated

Athena Swords, Editor

Poetry: The nightmare brought to you in part by the Department of Education and English teachers nationwide.

Is it really so much of a drag? What about poetry makes it such a miserable thing for the majority of kids in the public education system?

Now before you flip to the next page because poetry sucks in your mind, I want you to remember something. Poetry is an art form that, like a lot of fine art, does not make sense to everyone.

The art of idiom and iambic pentameter is not something that processes the same in a “left-brained” person compared to the “right-brained.”

Sitting in class being forced to read poetry is not everyone’s thing and I get that. The drama and emotion are not the normal ideas of entertainment and passion.

As everyone’s favorite, William Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.”

No, you may not want to play the role of an English student reading about the Raven in Edgar Allen Poe’s mind, but that act will end and you will survive.

Even though the misery of reading Robert Frost may feel idiotic to you, there is an abundance of logic flooding the mind of a poet. 

Poets, similar to a painter or sculptor, see and feel emotions in a more creative light. Like a painter may see something like depression in colder colors, a poet sees this as being stuck in the depths of the ocean with no way to swim back up.

This is not a skill that every person has. In fact, comparing one thing to another with no original relation is a skill most people lack. This is why the ideology of poetry makes zero sense to a mass majority of society.

Not understanding why people think in images and figurative speech is totally okay. However, a lack of understanding does not mean you should hate it.

It might drag to dissect a poetic stanza’s every word to understand a deeper meaning, but there are valid reasons for being told to do it. This curriculum is not frivolous.

Just like basic art and musical skills, poetry is taught from day one of school. Also, just like art and music, poetry is an outlet for some students to let out their seas of emotion.

Reading someone’s original thoughts, and dissecting them for what they are, teaches empathy. Knowing what Maya Angelou meant when she was writing about the caged bird with clipped wings is essential to establishing a deeper understanding of empathy.

“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams. His shadow shouts on a nightmare

scream. His wings are clipped and his feet are tied. So he opens his throat to sing.”

This entire poem is about a caged bird wishing for freedom to fly in the sunshine. Instead, however, he is stuck with his wings clipped and feet tied inside of a small, isolating cage.

Understanding that feeling of being physically or mentally trapped is what Angelou wanted her audience to see when reading “Caged Bird.” Relating ideas in poetry to things happening in your life teaches empathy no matter how redundant it may feel.

On top of all of this, many tend to forget that song lyrics are forms of poetry. Have you ever related to the words of a song so much that you have to listen over and over again? You’re listening to poetry. You are evaluating and dissecting poetry every time you relate to a song and put it on repeat.

Let’s take the song “Julia” by the Beatles for instance. This is a song I listen to often because it has meaning to me personally.

John Lennon wrote this song about two of the most influential people in his life, his mother, Julia, and his wife, Yoko Ono.

Lennon wrote the song after regrets of losing his mother in a roadside accident but after all of those years, he had finally found a love in Ono that was equal to his mother’s love.

“Julia” is a touching song that can be relatable in times of accepting the loss of a loved one. Finding someone to heal those wounds and make you whole is an essential part of the grieving process.

Understanding the meanings of song lyrics is the same as understanding the Shakespearian sonnets that are handed to us in a classroom.

I hate to break it to you, but that poetry you hate to read for your English class is just a song without a rhythm to go with it. 

Those poems that you’re forced to read every semester of English class has more of an impact on your world than you might think.

Think before you dread evaluating why the caged bird sings and why fire and ice will be the cause of the end of the world.