What is poetry? What does poetry dot to us and equally important, what do we do to poetry?
Definitions of poetry abound: “poetry is the lava of the imagination… “, and so on. Poetry appeals to us on many levels, but is undeniable that above all it appeals to the emotional and the intuitive. Having determined the nature of poetic appeal we come to the crucial question of what we dot to poetry: how should it be approached? The answer quite simply is that we should give ourselves up to the delight of a poem and if it makes an impact on us, it will explain itself.
These are , perhaps general statements and in the final analysis there can be no categorize instructions about how we should approach poetry: we are, after all, dealing with a genre that is infinitely diverse and offers possibilities of the most amazing range; in the hands of a poet like pope even that most mundane act of closing a door becomes poetry… “shut, shut the door, good John, I cried …..” and then we have lines like “ woman wailing for her demon lover”, or yet again “ my love is like a red, red rose..” these can hardly be subjected to analysis and yet we know that it is poetry, so we cannot lay down any rules about how to approach poetry.
Poetry for Undergraduate Classes
Making a selection of poetry for undergraduate classes is a formidable task… there is so much to choose from, but the choice is hampered by the fact that the average student is a little intimidated by poetry. The general impression is that it is difficult, because it involves a specialized language: Meter, rhythm and so on. However, the student must remember that the poet is , after all, “ a man speaking to men”.
The main consideration is selecting these poems has been their simplicity. Special consideration has been given to 19th and 20th centuries, as these are closer, in terms of sensibility, to the present day reader. I have also included a number of poems by women writers, hoping to cater to the future graduate women.
How to Teach Poetry
There is no one formula regarding how to teach poetry. The emphasis on paraphrase, however, can be destructive, for it kills the essence of the poem. The ultimate test should be whether or not the student has enjoyed the poem. .. if he has, he will know what it is all about.
Though the students will be ‘doing’ these poems for their examinations ( the veritable bete noire) they shall not, it is hoped, miss entertainment, instruction and delight in acquiring poetry reading skills. Though the poems belong to an alien culture … There is also the element of universality, and basic human emotions are the same, regardless of English or American backgrounds, and it is sincerely hoped that every student will find something to enjoy and discover .
we are also aware of the fact that there is a great divide in the proficiency level’s of the students depending on the kind of primary instruction they have been exposed to : this is most unfortunate, but every effort has been made to select poems that are simple, readable, and understandable.