Poetry is not a matter of feelings, it is a matter of language. It is a language which creates
There are many quotes from remarkable writers and philosophers that tackle the subject of
poetry ever since the time immemorial. A significant number of these attempts can actually be
considered poetry themselves, just for offering innovative ideas dressed in a fine linguistic attire.
What is interesting about the Eco’s statement above, however, is that it has honestly made us
believe that he managed to grasp the integral sense of poetry as a whole and formulate it in no
more than two short sentences. Consequently, we have decided to use it as a starting point for
answering the question whether poetry still connects people in the 21st century and if it does –
can it be characterized as a successful form of communication? Believe it or not, it’s more
complex than it seems at first sight.
Who are the 21st century’s sentries exactly?
Let’s start with the (poetry’s) recipients first. The people of the 21st century can be best depicted
as lonely cowboys and cowgirls, desperately roaming the land, alienated from everyone,
including themselves, yet secretly hoping to come across a tall and dark stranger, someone who
will understand their estrangement without a word; someone willing to share with them that tacit
feeling of theirs, and perhaps offer a way out. On the other hand, this hope for dissolution rests
shy and is basically buried deep inside a huge load of personal insecurities, stress, and anxiety.
Still, we have to return to Eco once more in order to try to set out the two aspects that appear to
be prevalent in the most famous modern Italian writer’s interpretation of poetry’s main purpose (
in our modest opinion, of course):
– Poetry is not a matter of feelings, but a matter of language – meaning that he denies the
creative, often chaotic genius impulse as such and thus puts the equation sign between
the poetry and possession of superior language skills
– Poetry understands an intelligent and intuitive use of language that is bound to cause
emotions – meaning that a true poet has to be fully capable of enticing a feeling that
existed in a recipient all along but they somehow forgot it’s there already. And this has to
be similar to waking up from a pleasant slumber, so to speak.
Now, if we go back once again to our cowboys and cowgirls metaphor, we can finally call into
question the overall position of the poetry as a form of connecting people in the 21st century.
We’ll even allow ourselves a luxury of expressing our own concerns regarding the overuse of
various social networks, texting, and sexting in addition to an omnipresent need for short,
artificial bits of non-relevant content that every individual is exposed to on a daily basis.
Moreover, we can’t help but notice these abhorrent communication forms appear to be
uninvited, yet equal components of our rather chaotic universe that leaves no room for more
sophisticated forms of exchanging information, to our sheer disappointment.
Poetry – a Court Lady on a Spaceship
All in all, it seems that Erato is a long way from home, perfectly lost in a funereal future. Poetry
requires patience; fathoming art and sharing ideas categorically requires it. And somehow, it
seems that our fuse is shorter than ever. According to some studies, the world’s IQ has grown
for 20 points compared to 1950s. On the other hand, understanding poetry has nothing to do
with intelligence; it’s about being intuitive and sensitive to the hidden beauty, which is often
painted by the finest brush that is made solely of words. Poetry is begging us to reconnect with
ourselves first and then reach out to others. And in the end, the most tragic about it is that it
could really offer a lot – should we decide to let her in.
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