Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What is a Poet?

"What is a poet? An unhappy man who conceals profound anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so fashioned that when sighs and groans pass over them they sound like beautiful music. His fate resembles that of the unhappy men who were slowly roasted by a gentle fire in the tyrant Phalaris' bull—their shrieks could not reach his ear to terrify him, to him they sounded like sweet music. And people flock about the poet and say to him: do sing again; Which means, would that new sufferings tormented your soul, and: would that your lips stayed fashioned as before, for your cries would only terrify us, but your music is delightful. And the critics join them, saying: well done, thus must it be according to the laws of aesthetics. Why, to be sure, a critic resembles a poet as one pea another, the only difference being that he has no anguish in his heart and no music on his lips."

This quote, from Soren Kierkegaard's, Diapsalmata, implies that it is oft a tortured soul that finds its inspiration to write poetry, ironically to the critic's delight.  In this manner, I am reminded that the life of Jesus is like a poem to us.

Sometimes we think of a poet as a melancholy individual, but that is not entirely so. Poems may be soulful, reflective, romantic, humorous, historical, some poems rise up to praise.  As for me, I think I do tend to be on the melancholy side so my poems are romantic and reflective expressions, not evidence of a tortured soul so much, but of one finding her way. I also enjoy reading historical poems and sometimes even writing them on occasion to record special events of my own. I am especially blessed when reading inspirational poetry written by others as a testimony of what God has done in their lives, as Kierkegaard describes listening to the music on another's lips.

I never sit down to write a poem, the poem usually sits me down to write it.

What kind of poet are you?  What are your favorite poems about?


  1. Hi Carla -

    The urge to write poetry comes during stressful times. For some reason, it decompresses me. Of course, most of it is awful.

    Things must be pretty stable around here because the urge to wax poetic hasn't hit in quite a while. :)


  2. I am only inspired to write poetry during intense emotional responses to things, good or bad. There is some truth in this quote. To me, a lot of poetry does have a melancholy tune to it. But a beautiful one, more often than not.
    And like you, I never sit down to write a poem. A poem blindsides me and I have no choice but to sit and write.

    Happy Thursday,

  3. Hi Carla, I do love poetry and have actually published a book. I find a lot of poetry stirring within me the more I read the Word. I don't remember actually sitting down to just write a poem on a certain topic, something from a devotion or a time of meditating usually forces me to go write.


  4. I like how you said that the poems usually sit you down to write. Thats beautiful and how it really happens. That press to write usually comes over you and those are the best writings because they flow so well not to mention they are more vivid and real.

    I write poetry and it's usually best to write when I am pressed to write or feel the urgency to inspire or release.

  5. When I am struggling with depression is when I often create the best poetry. My favorite poets are: Emily Dickinson, Tess Gallagher, William Wordsworth, Shakespeare of course, William Heyen, and Anne Bradstreet.


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