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On poetry: Don't read trash!
Life is short and poetry volumes are too many. This is an opinion piece on exhorting poetry lovers to read the best. Poets are many and their poetry various. But while there are many poems, we have only a short time to read. The better part of judgment is to first stick with the masters and then evaluate other writers.

Rhymes nor free verse doth a poet make. With vanity publishing everyone has become a poet. And poetry publishing and readings make for big money. In this very short article a case will be made for reading the great poets rather than those who will be forgotten after they stop Tweeting their poems. Literary studies as a discipline is not the fiefdom of career academics. I am leaving out poetry other than in English since including other languages will make this write-up tedious.

The first poet who should be read is W.B. Yeats. Yeats has not been surpassed till date by either those who came after him or by those who influenced him. Yeats is the poet to turn to if one wants to become a poet. See whether your own poetry has the variety and the scope of Yeats’ art. Forget about scholarship on Yeats. Simply Google Yeats’ poems and read them. How many can write Down by the Salley Gardens?

After one has read Yeats, one should read the man who influenced Yeats the most --- William Blake. Blake was a mystic and his poetry is magic. Blake will teach us mysticism; the stuff of magic. His Auguries of Innocence is one of the most complicated poems in English literature. Before even thinking of publishing your own poetry and forcing it down our throats, think of what Emily Dickinson wrote:

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

The true poet is hidden. The poet does not tell the world that she is a poet. Poetry is a vocation and cannot be a profession. Professions put food on the table, vocations move humans to respond to an inner calling that is entire and may not care for being somebody. The Zen Masters used poems to convey spiritual truths. Basho comes to mind. If you are not Yeats, Dickinson or Basho I suggest you read more and accept the fact that poetry is not your domain.

The temptations are many: quick fame, a sort of fan following and the making of a cabal. But those things can be achieved through other routes than poetry. Leave poetry be. The shocking thing is now people from age 10 to 80 declare themselves to be poets. For those interested in knowing more about what poetry is, please read the letters of John Keats. And as W.H. Auden once said poetry makes nothing happen…

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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