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What a powerful piece—the idea is truly resonating within me. We are controlled by these invisible forces, which cannot be seen, but we believe these forces (gravitational fields, dark matter, quantum foam, etc.) exist. The last paragraph reminded me of Shelley’s “A Defence of Poetry”; the author explains that “the scientists and the artists are telling us … sometimes what looks like Nothing is the best place to find the most interesting…somethings.” This idea is reminiscent of Shelley’s belief that the poet is a prophet and legislator “who draw[s] into a certain propinquity with the beautiful and the true that partial apprehension of agencies of the invisible world”; here, “the invisible world” can be likened to the field of metaphysics, or the world of affect—how we feel. The artist builds a bridge between the observable universe and the metaphysical (in his eyes); Shelley explains that the “poet participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one”—the poet, through a connection to this world of “Nothingness,” portrays the world around him (the physical and metaphysical alike). Thus, by creating a bridge through art, the poet allows us (the audience) to enter the inner machinations of his mind—his world, his perspective; the audience gains a new perspective about the world through the artist’s work. So, what constitutes poetry?
Every so often, I shake my head in frustration because of this individualized sense of importance: “Read my poetry! Read my short story! I’m such a dramatic genius,” the mobs of people cry. Angst, angst, angst. Although Billy from Biochemistry wrote a poem about how great his life is, in my eyes, it isn’t [good] poetry; it’s an imitation of elementary and very puerile “feelings”—as if Billy is the only person in the world who has the capacity to experience a fondness for his cat, Seymour. Poetry should be universal, having foundation in not only emotion (a foundation that is common so that that the audience might experience something)—“Wow! That really spoke to me!”—but also in thought; poetry should be gripping. It should grab you by the throat, pin you down, and hold you captive—hostage, even—until you’ve had time to reflect and ruminate its meaning—“Why did that poem just grab me by the throat…?” you might be asking yourself. My answer is “Because it matters!” I really enjoy the idea of poetry being toiled over until (as Benjamin points out) the artist is vanquished by his work. Especially in modernity, I feel that it is entirely necessary to grab onto some cohesive “thing” or idea—an idea that has some kind of somethingness—a common object or subject (like a tree) that has a unique perspective. That is why there are so many poems that have the same underlying theme; the poet has seen a particular theme within a new light, a new perspective, a “somethingness” that wasn’t there before. So, a “good” poem should first make you feel something—an initial reaction that strikes something deeper within you, a resonating quality, whether it is pure animosity towards the work, or a pure love for it—then, it should make you think—“Wait, why did the poet use this particular imagery… it doesn’t quite add up…” That is what poetry is: a philosophical undertaking of art.