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Develop Your Discerning Eye for Poetry

When ‘emotion’ and ‘intellect’ combine you experience the phenomenon of ‘inspiration’. The first current of inspiration is in expressing it in the form of the immediate medium that is available to you. If the immediate medium is ‘words’ then this intensity in inspiration gets expressed in the form of what may be called poetry. It is generally felt that there are very few people who can actually appreciate poetry. This is the case because it is associated with the verbal ability of the individual. In schools when students raise questions about the need for poetry, teachers find it difficult to provide convincing answers. This is usually due to lack of access to the experience of inspiration. Associating poetry with verbal ability is a limitation when it comes to developing the eye for poetry in your students.

What one needs to do is to associate poetry with the creative drive. This is the closest you can get to inspiration. Music has an instant appeal because it does not depend on the medium of language. Poetry is expressed through language which is why the reader needs to have reasonable vocabulary to understand it. But is this enough? It is not, as poetry employs devices that have not been fully understood by linguists. Many specialists grapple with what it means to write powerful poetry. A young reader has to be guided to look beyond words to actually reach the heart of the poet. Poetry is not emotional alone. It has exotic ingredients of cognition embedded in it. It is therefore both emotional and intellectual and seldom one without the other.

The teacher has to approach poetry without going immediately into literary devices. Teaching literary devices such as simile or metaphor or allegory can be dry and students may find this approach tiresome. It would be worthwhile if teachers can make students approach poetry through experience. A poet is usually made more by experience than by knowledge of the applied language alone. If it is English poetry English sensibilities need to be discussed so that students can relate to the context of poets more easily. A poet has supra-sensitive personality which absorbs experiences like a sponge. Therefore before poetry what needs to be taught is organic sensibility which William Wordsworth recognized and gave due emphasis. Let students approach poetry through the corner stone of their experience. Each experience is subjective and so is the inference drawn from each. Give students the freedom to express themselves aesthetically. Without freedom there can be no inspiration and without inspiration there can be no poetry. Online tutors approach creativity through experience and encourage uncanny inspiration.

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