The poet is in the end probably more afraid of the dogmatist who wants to extract the message from the poem and throw the poem away than he is of the sentimentalist who says, “Oh, just let me enjoy the poem.” ~Robert Penn Warren, “The Themes of Robert Frost,” Hopwood Lecture, 1947
I think I’ve always loved poetry except in high school when the teacher wanted to dissect a poem and often would ask “what do you think the poet meant?” Does it matter? I wanted to say but I kept quiet. And when I did speak up I was often wrong, in her eyes. Maybe a poem about a missing hat is just that. They missed their fedora they left on a Greyhound bus in El Paso, Texas on a February day, maybe it was a hat they bought with their first paycheck or maybe it was his grandfather’s hat and it just fit his head so nicely. The poet wanted to acknowlege this.
Sure some poems go farther than that and there’s symbolism and deep meaning but some are just words so a poet remembers a special day, a moment, a hat.
Today write a poem about a special item that you lost and can never be replaced. Mine is a painting my aunt painted, she has passed and the painting was left on a bus in London in 1988. Irreplaceable, I need to memorialize it. Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag