Thursday 1 February 2024

Imbolc Thoughts: Is Poetry Something You Love or Hate?

Brigid is the goddess - and patron saint - of poetry, celebrated on February 1st and 2nd, so I thought I'd open up the question: is poetry something you love or hate?

I have mixed opinions, summed up by saying I love some poems, but hate what I think of as bad poetry. When I was at school I enjoyed all English lessons - including poetry classes. My favourite was The Kraken by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I learnt it by heart to recite during a shool performance evening for parents. But most people would agree that's a good poem by a famous writer. 

My strong feelings about bad poetry stem from several years of being a freelance copy-editor for a vanity publishing firm. A sizeable chunk of the books I edited were poetry, and they were on the whole excruciatingly dreadful - at least to me. Their authors evidently thought they were worth spending a lot of money to get into print.

Modern pagan witchcraft rituals are peppered with poetry. Doreen Valiente's Charge of the Goddess is probably the most famous. It exists in both poem and prose versions, but my favourite is the verse form. One reason to use poems for spells and rituals is that it's easier to remember phrases with e a rhythm or rhyme. I've written a few poems for use in rituals myself. Here are links to some:

I do worry if other people like my poems and find them useful, or if they think they're dreadful. It's always useful to get feedback, of course, even critical feedback.

The use of poetry in general is ancient. The Pyramid Texts from Ancient Egypt include poems while the Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest surviving epic poem, from west Asia. People all over the world, from many different cultures, have written and used poetry for spiritual, magical and secular reasons.

But what do you think? Is poetry something you love or hate? Do you have any favourite poems (please only state the title to avoid infringing any copyright).


Jane Mortimer said...

I do think poetry is a personal outpouring of somebody's thoughts, and therefore it doesn't seem right to criticise it. It will resonate with some people and not with others. My favourite poem is Keats' Eve of St Agnes. It's so atmospheric - like being taken through a guided meditation. I agree with you Lucya that rhyme and rhythm works well for spells - the punchier the better imho!

Badwitch said...

I agree that if a poem is just someone's personal work then all that matters is that it means something to them. No one should say rude things about other people's personal jottings in their notebooks etc. However, if it gets published and they are wanting other people to buy copies, then I think reviews of books of published books of poetry are just as valid as reviews of published novels or reviews of published non-fiction books.