First-time subscribers: read this. Otherwise skip it, but use as a reference if needed.
What is poetry anyway? Many poets and critics have tried to answer this question. Poets tend to define poetry with metaphors, critics with long words and theories. Getting down to basics, poetry is language. It is verbal expression, exploiting the miracle and mystery of language. Poetry usually is written in verse form , and often employs rhyme for a pleasing effect. But if poetry is not an expression of something, it is nothing. We know that language can be used in many ways: to express truth (as the speaker sees it), to persuade, to seduce, to amuse, to rejoice, to lament. Poetry may do all of these things. One definition of poetry sometimes heard is that poetry is noble thoughts nobly expressed. I would tend to say: thoughts (not always noble ones) memorably expressed, which draw on the genius of language for their expression.
Maybe poetry is more than one thing. Maybe it’s just one of those things that “I know it when I see it.” The American poet Emily Dickinson said that she recognized poetry if it seemed to take the top of her head off. There are poems that give one that sort of aesthetic “high.” But it is too much to ask this of every poem–even every poem of excellent quality. Poems that do this are the “high” poetry. These are the poems that move us deeply, that give “wow!” moments. But there are also very worthwhile poems that entertain, that call to our imaginations, our intellects, or our sense of humor.
What sort of poems will be presented here? Not all will be high poetry, though many will be. Some will be “intellectual.” Some will be light-hearted. All, I hope, will be appealing, whether the poetry is “high” or “low.”
Why crack our brains with definitions? The real question is: What is poetry for? The premise of this website is: POETRY IS FOR ENJOYMENT. Take your time when reading poetry. Let it soak in. There’s no hurry. Sometimes you’re in the mood, sometimes you’re not. A couple of occasions each week may be just about right, scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays. That is what this website is intended to provide.
You can freely access poems and notes at any time. Each poem and its accompanying notes will be available on the website for four weeks after being initially accessible. If you are going on a vacation of more than four weeks, you can use a hand-held device to access new poems each Tuesday and Friday while on vacation. As to copying poems, you are asked to be on the honor system. The copied texts should only be available to subscribers and their immediate families. EXCEPTION: If several persons combine their resources to obtain a single registration (which may happen in parts of the world where the $10 registration fee is a lot of money for any single individual to pay), then any of the contributors may have access to the copied poems and notes.
Finally: Remember that the whole point of your subscription is to enjoy the poetry of the poems. Sometimes lengthy notes will be appropriate to help you do just that; in other cases only very brief notes will be needed, or even none at all. The notes should never, never get in the way of the poetry; IGNORE THEM if you don’t need them. More advice: whatever you do, avoid the “explanatory” approach found on some websites. If the poet had wanted to say what he wanted to say in a different manner, he would have done so. The poetry is in the way it’s said. Stay away from websites that rephrase poems so as to make their meaning more “clear.” Avoid such temptations utterly! Otherwise, you lose the whole point. You lose the poetry.
Some of the poems will be fairly long (generally the “Friday” poems), others quite short (generally the “Tuesday” poems). Suppose you particularly like one of the shorter poems. Here’s a suggestion: memorize it. In longer poems, memorize the parts you like best. That way the poetry becomes part of you.