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To Understand the Beauty of Poetry

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    To understand the beauty of poetry one needs to dig deep into what each poet has created. Some poems have withstood the test of time and have made an impact, hence the reason why poems are still being taught and analyzed today. Poetry knows no genre or boundaries, but the most exquisite thing about it is that it finds multiple ways to express love, even when the word love is not heavily incorporated in each line of the poet’s work. To further analyze how poets talk about love even if they do not say it directly, four poems will be discussed and how in their own unique way show love to a significant other that even the readers can pick up on. The poems will touch upon topics such as romantic love, family love, and the qualities that make the poet fall head over heels for his lover.

    When in a relationship, sometimes one craves to hear those three simple words, “I love you”. In the case of William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130”: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, he turned it completely around, and through different methods and phrases, he expresses how he loves his mistress simply because he accepts her the way she is. Throughout the poem, he goes on to list the various things about his mistress and the features she does not possess. For example, he says “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;” in the first line or even in line 6 saying “But no such roses see I in her cheeks”. Those lines perfectly show that he is not in any sort of denial when it comes to her beauty; instead he approaches it in a more realistic way. By showcasing that he loves her because of her imperfections, he praises her and enhances her true beauty. Shakespeare even affirms the readers in the last two lines of the poem saying “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare/ As any she belied with false compassion”(lines 13-14). In addition to expressing love from a romantic point of view, one can see it expressed toward family.

    In some circumstances, nothing comes close to the amount of love a child will have for his or her parents and vice versa. Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son” revolves around a mother who tries to send a message to her son about life through her experiences, while also providing wisdom for the future. Although this poem does not have the word love in any of its lines, it does give the reader a sense of motherly love instead. The mother almost sounds like she is lecturing her son to beware of the many obstacles life will throw at him while using stairs as a metaphor for all the “reachin’ landin’s/ And turnin’ corners” (lines 10-11) or even in line 2 saying “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”. Tough love is needed to get anyone determined and inform him/her about what is going to lie ahead and this poem did just that, providing the reader that a mother will do what is necessary to ensure that her child will succeed in life by nurturing and expressing that love through different phrases.

    Another poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night” written by Dylan Thomas, is about a son begging his dying father to keep fighting and survive. Just like Hughes’s poem, there are no love words written in the poem, but the readers do see a son pleading for his father to remain alive because of all the life choices and all the consequences that were made, he wants to make it clear that there is always a reason to keep living. The image alone can inform the readers that the son had a loving bond with his father and does not wish to see him die: he knows that it is a part of life to see someone go but the thought of losing a father and a mentor can truly be devastating. In each stanza of his poem, the reader can see the repetition of “Do not go gentle into that good night”(Thomas) further proving that even though he does not need to tell his father that he loves him to show his affection for him but rather letting him know that he simply does not want to see him go. In Bloom’s Literature, there is a small biography of Dylan Thomas and one thing worth noticing is that his father was an English teacher and “had a love of literature and a fine library, both of which were strong influences on the young Dylan, who developed an immense knowledge of English poems”(Karbiener and Stade). Adding to that, the Bloom Literature dives deep into Thomas’s poem, further indicating that even though no love words were said but rather saying those simple words in his poem such as “wise men”(line 4) or “good men”(line 7) indicated that he was more than just his loving father, he was a mentor to Thomas as mentioned before. Moreover, one can see love just by providing small details about a person.

    Poets tend to be passionate about any idea that comes to mind. That was the case for Frank O’Hara and his poem “Having a Coke with you”. Right away, the reader can see the passion and admiration he has for his lover saying “partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yogurt” (line 4). O’Hara notices the small details about her loving yogurt and works that into his poem to make it romantic. One would say that he even seems to ramble on and how nothing can compare to that moment that they are sharing. No painting, no city or wonders of the world could ever replace her and the pure affection he has for his lover and line 15 further proves it when he writes, “I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world”. The poem goes into a first-person perspective and the readers are brought into the mind of the speaker, and while he is sitting there he is admiring the beauty of his companion and it even starts to become intense. In the literature criticism titled “Love Poetry” by James Simmonds, he explains the ideal form of love according to Henry Vaughan who was a Welsh poet. And according to Vaughan love “ is a reciprocal love between two persons whose souls are in harmony with divine law; their passionate union is therefore innocent, natural, and happy”(Simmonds). This perfectly ties in with O’Hara’s poem about his lover because as mentioned before the poet seems to go on and on talking about his partner to the point where it becomes so natural to him and he starts to become very open-hearted and talking with much enthusiasm.

    One does not need to find love in fancy materials or even have someone explain to him/her how much they truly mean to one another. All four poems have shone a light on different perspectives and different approaches to love. Whether it be accepting any partner for how they are, a poem about children and the bond between their parents, or just living in the moment with a lover and remembering what made someone fall in love in the first place.

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