"Oh no, another post about writing poetry! Run!" I can actually prophesize that cry going out from all those readers who enjoy this blog but refuse to do poetry. That's okay - this is not another attempt to convert the heathens into poets. This is, however, a reminder of how poetry can provide us with another tool in our writing toolbox, and we can gain this sometimes by merely exploring what other people have already created.in a past post that I was currently on a dystopia kick, in part thanks to the recent release of Cyberpunk 2077. (No, this post isn't about dystopia or Cyberpunk either.) Well, of all the places, it turns out that some poetry was offered within the Cyberpunk universe, and it struck up my own curiosity enough to go and read the original works. At first I was just curious to find out if there was some hidden meaning behind bringing up that particular poem at that particular cyber-moment, but I read them and something clicked. Why? Honestly, I do not know, but I found out it did by reading it first.
Maybe it's just me, but one particular verse stood out - and it was not the verse cited in Cyberpunk 2077, though the rhythm is basically the same. I read it, and something in my inner writer moved:
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
- Excerpt, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T. S. Eliot
Now, maybe you got nothing out of this. Maybe you see a particular line and think how I might relate to a middle-aged character with thinning hair. Maybe that sort of music of the meter sounded like singing in your mind. Or maybe something in the back of your head says, "I don't know what it is, but I kinda like it." No matter - all those responses and any other are valid. The point is, by consuming this poetry, our writing mind starts to think in different ways and appreciate different ways of communicating.
This is not to say that you even have to appreciate a work just because it's done by someone famous or respected. Cyberpunk 2077 also made reference to William Butler Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium, which is considered a profound reflection on the subject of aging (most people would know it for the line, "That is no country for old men.") In fairness, it went over my head. It just didn't do it for me. And yet, I think I was better off for having read it, even if just as a writer.
So, this was not a post about writing poetry. However, if you are inspired to read a few verses of other people's work, go ahead. And if that makes you scribble down a few lines of your own, well, Eliot and Yeats would be pleased.