Up until about year ago, I really felt like I needed some sort of permission to read poetry and its bizarre because I never felt the same way when it came to reading books. Books just felt like a ‘free-range forest’ that I could wonder in at any time… camp out… have some fun… go home… keep camping whatever! However, as I became familiar and started studying T.S Eliot’s poetry, I started to get excited by this medium and felt as if I could really recognise the hidden messages in poetry. Since then, I started learning about poets writing in this day and age, which has been really helpful in finding voices that I can relate to and exploring ideas and emotions through poetry at a time and level that I understand.
As a HSC student I came to the realisation that poetry is really important, because like any other form of art, it is an outlet for creative expression. This particular form of literature acts as a nexus of communication, enabling us to relay our emotions to the world and relate through the mutuality of shared experiences. So why poetry? According to Scott Griffin, “poetry is the essence of language and the language is the mirror of our soul.” Even though T.S. Eliot’s poems at first seem like a bunch of meaningless words, when we look at them more closely you may come to see that poetry delivers a full range of human experiences. Although poetry does not appeal to every individual, many students use poetry as a form of therapy, escape, and entertainment. This is somewhat significant, as some students realise that poetry provides them with value and joy, in the way that painting will provide that for others or even dancing. Therefore, during my study of T.S Eliot’s poems I recognised how poems belonged to the collective in a way that acted as a binding possession that connected us all.
Even if poetry simply looks like a bunch of words to you, it is a unique way of expressing very real and powerful personal experiences in a concentrated form. It is something you and I can connect with when we are in the process of deconstructing a poem word by word. Even short, light-hearted poems can explore the poet’s world in deep ways that maintain a semblance of excitement about language and its possibilities. Poetry can provide this amazingly immersive insight into other people’s lives, minds, and cultures. Like all literature, poetry does not exist in a vacuum and we can connect with poems written centuries ago, as they discuss pertinent ideas about human emotions.
On the other hand, poetry can also be therapeutic and expressive, allowing us to gain insight into the emotional turmoil within the individual’s and accordingly sympathise at their lowest lows. Writing poetry is a crafty act, with authors considering the placement of each word within each line, something to remember whenever you are overwhelmed by the swarm of words of a poem “attacking you in your HSC”. Thus, as you start appreciating the style and form of poetry and get to the stage of writing your own poem, you have a better understanding of the best words to use and in which order to use them in. Therefore, the element of craftsmanship in the creation of poetry drives a sense of ownership and personalisation, enabling HSC students to find a strong connection with T.S Eliot’s poems. Poetry in contemporary society has become a broad term that encompasses a range of communication styles that stem from the source of creativity. Whether you write poetry with a rhyming or non-rhyming scheme, it eventually becomes a shorthand method to express emotion or tell a story based on historical accounts. It is one of the most unique artforms in the sense that the writer can choose his or her rhyming style, length and the type of language to be used in a particular piece. As an HSC student, like you, T.S Eliot was daunting at first, but by realising just how powerful words and poems can be, I came to appreciate all the intense experiences and emotions that Eliot explored.
Poetry also acts as the artistic communication of intimacy, by exploring the evolution of feelings to the internal and external effects of human nature. It’s sad to see the decline of interest in poetry, however hopefully by including Eliot’s and other modern poems in the HSC, we as young adults gain a renewed interest in this form of modern literature. Before studying Eliot’s poems, I would often draft my poetry using colloquial language, however by appreciating published poets I realised how I could spin and refine my poetry to allow it to articulate my emotive expression. This idea is reflected in a lot of what TS Eliot wrote in the 19th century. He suggested that when someone wrote poetry in form and meter, you are integrating yourself within the communion of all poets who have come before you, and all those who will come after.
Modernist poetry is underscored by the purposeful roots of the era. The instincts and motivations of the form were dictated by the pursuit of subversion from tradition and convention. TS Eliot wrote a book called Eliot and His Age: T.S. Eliot's Moral Imagination in the Twentieth Century, which described how modern poets felt obliged to abandon metred rhyme because they wanted to create a poetry that was capable of giving representation to contemporary life. Through that motive, much of the popular poetry of their day had retreated into artificial representations of nature poetry that lacked any of Wordsworth’s insight into the moral imagination of poetry. In my opinion, I feel as if the encapsulation of the degradation and sordidness of humanity by contemporary poets makes it especially poignant in this day and age. Thus, making it essential that HSC students simultaneously register the passing and usually sorted realities of our age.
In conclusion, when you come to realise that poems are simply not just a random collection of words, but instead a beautiful and powerful depiction of a poet’s innermost thoughts, you will come to better appreciate the poems you encounter in HSC English, making your entire year twelve english experience much more enjoyable. Poetry acts as a kind of everyday magic that anyone can practice and just slightly changes the world around you and all you need is a pen or keyboard. We all need to read poetry and when we come across a beautiful line, to commit it to memory and read it out loud. In my opinion, this is the best way to truly understand a poem and this one act can help enhance a student’s studying of T.S Eliot’s poetry.