Just how does one approach a poem? How is it different from other forms of communication?
There are many senses in which a poem may be appreciated, some widely taught and some idiosyncratic. Sure, you could argue that I read too much into a poem, more than what is there, but I contend that the opposite is usually true – that more is written by a poet in his or her poem than what a reader can read. These are the senses through which I understand a poem:
- The two senses of meaning – what is said and what is not;
- The six human senses – sights, sounds, touch, smells, tastes, and the extrasensory;
- The four senses of space and time and the feeling of more;
- The senses of memory and premonition;
- The rhythms and meter – the iambic (da-DA), trochaic (DA-da), dactylic (DA-da-da), and anapestic (da-da-DA); tetrameter (four of the syllabic meters), pentameter (five of them), and hexameter (six of them);
- The rhymes not only serve to make the lines of a verse memorable but they also serve as an anchor to emphasize the key word or concept of the verse and the unrhymed to release one from the weight of the anchored words. The combination of rhymed and unrhymed (a-a-b-a) is more pleasant to our inner ear than a wholly rhymed verse (a-a-a-a);
- and the structure or chaos of a poem – formal, organic, connected, or unconnected.