The question of what is poetry has been wrestled with for literally centuries. When they trace it back through time, most historians and literature experts (whatever that means) agree that the birthplace of poetry was in the old “royal” courts going as far back as Mesopotamia. There has always been in evety culture, a “teller of stories” or a creator of a creator of tales. Not to get confused with the philosophers who wrote books and what we call as novels. In fact, even the bible speaks of these “singers of greatness. With the accompaniment of a short 5 string harp-like instrument they would entertain the king, and many times his entire country if he so bade, with didactic songs to put memories and visions into your head, while still sitting in the hall. The more the singers could describe and have their audience feel what he was saying, the more popular they were and less likely to loose their head. From the very beginning, these pre-poet poets were developing a way to ,make a person feel with their words rather than explain everything so that the audience had no thought or connection to the tale. As soon as these people’s words began being put on a page -we’ve had poetry.
Great, I’m glad we got poetry, so what is it? Most people will answer this question with a quirky grin and say it’s not prose. But what’s prose? This is as bad as the chicken and the egg situation, which continues to come back to itself. Most of the poets have tackled to answer his question. They range from Percy Shelly’s “that thought that comes from your mind in a millisecond, and is quickly gone” to Marriane Moore’s “it’s imagination not facts”. I subscribe to poet, Phd, Author David Kirby’s simple conclusion: “It’s more than pen and ink” It is not just the words, but going back to our predecessors, it ‘s words put together in the exact way to conjure up a feeling within you, that you can relate to and feel, and then explain that that feeling is compared to something more profound then you realized when you first stared at the words. This is what is demonstrated in good poetry. But it is only classic poetry till it not only crossed thus hurdle, but all the 3 classic pieces of literature rules.
Classic Piece of Literature Rules
Explains a piece of history or society in some, shape, or way
Is a snapshot of a time period, thereby explaining the entire world of that small clip in time.
Revolutionized writing or literature in some shape, or way.
These 3 rules have been the criteria for all classic pieces of literature. It has been shown that these books have helped the human condition or taught the world a large lesson. They have also been shown to give us a more accurate view of history than the government and the history books.If a book meets one of these rules, it’s considered a decent book.When I say decent I mean in the views of what it is doing for the “readers” and the general populace. If a book meets two of the rules, you’re looking at a book that caught a number of people’s attention, and changed a good many things; but still is not seen as didactic or world changing as it could be. These books you’d see in higher level literature classes, but probably only ½ the population knows much more than its title. When all three rules are met, they have seriously done great things to the world, history, or in some way our general knowledge of ourselves, the general populace. Two poems that I would use as an example of this is Kerouac’s Magdugal street blues and Randal Jarrel’s death of a ball turret gunner.
Kerouac performed and spoke this poem many times. He always states that he created this poem while watching people of San Francisco on Magdugal street. However, the poem speaks of Greenwich Village in New York. He has mentioned two major metropolitan cities, and in many ways very much the same. Each of these cities have actually sanctioned off pieces of their city for specific nationality groups. These two cities are actually the idea of what America was suppose to be; a melting pot of all different types of people and groups. Therefore, it becomes a comment on our own country with the mention of just the places. All of the people walk by looking at the paintings, but not looking at anything around them. Definitely not the reality of the world represented by the bum merely asking for a few pieces of change while their looking at painting that are priced in the hundreds to thousands. When the speak yells that their all going to die one day, a person answers him. It is as if the speaker is making a comment on to America, and America actually speaks back. The man yells, why do you have to bring this info to us, we don’t want to think about this. We want to walk around and look at these paintings, not listen to you or watch anything else. Simply stating, as most Americans do and many believe, Americans do not want to look at the reality of what is going on in the country, but most people would rather loose themselves in the fantasy world they’ve created and ignore everything else. Just as the very very rich, live in their mansions or far away spots rather than be exposed to the problems their money could help or even solve.
Most have even turned their head to even the people that have made sure that this country was protected – the military. Whether or not you agree with the wars or the idea of military, you still have to have some feeling of admiration and pity for the young men and women that are merely pawns to the chess players. Randal Jarrel’s “Death of a Ball turret gunner” explains this idea and turns a mirror to our people’s view on the soldiers that go out to defend us. These young people leave the comfort of their parent’s house. The leave the security of home, and the guarantee of freedom and well being; and walk into a world of yelling, flak(anti-airplane gun), and destruction . The Ball turret gunner saw this in a very real manner. They also are the quintessential young soldier, since the youngest and thereby smallest of the soldiers, making them mean both the idea of these kids as “babies”, but also the newest recruits of the force. When placed in a ball-turret they take a persona of the “eye”- the all seeing, all recording. Since the ball turret was a glass globe that rotated and had two huge 50 caliber guns attached to it, the gunners were hanging in space, seeing every shoot down in 3-d, every bombing as he was directly over it, and every death clearly. They are dropped out of the womb and into free falling hell. When the plane took on gunfire, the ball turret usually got hit because of its exposed, outside of the aircraft, position. When they would take out the body, they would pour it out of the ball much like a slab of meat, and quickly wash out the rest of the blood, entrails, and pieces of the man with a hose. Reminiscent of rinsing out a barrel or bucket and realizing we have no feeling for whatever we are spraying it out, we’re merely get it clean. Thereby showing and making you feel how we really feel about these children who have bravely stood up to defend our country when we wouldn’t, and we merely treat them with the respect we treat the stuff we spray out of a bucket, and they merely become a letter to a parent, and a casket that was buried on the government expense account.
Both of these poems have not only made you feel what was being experienced, but it pointed out a specific comment and inner working of not only their time period, but an experience that fits multiple groups in the US and the world. Through their words, they have allowed us to question our own realities and opinions. They explained the society which we live, and the attitudes of our age. In addition, Kerouac’s poetry defined his genre, and Jarrel tackled a piece of our societies thoughts that we all know exist, but are never seen. Poetry is the feelings we have when we read a piece of poetic literature. Poetry is literature that you can not only feel, but relate to – once you understand the meaning of everything.Poetry is the everyday experience of the people that crawl upo
n this sphere, and the language of a select few who can convey all of this feeling in a few words and phrases.