Are Poems Actually Word Pictures?
One thing that I love about pictures is their ability to instantly portray , well, anything. A well painted picture can give a sense of adventure, a photo at the right moment can portray a sense of loss, the possibilities are pretty much endless.
Now, I am not claiming this as an original observation, many, MANY people have realized this before me. I have always wished to be able to draw, but I haven't put the time in to learn ... yet. While thinking on this one day I wondered what it was that I liked about drawing and I came to the conclusion that I hinted at above, their ability to portray a message.
I thought it strange that there is no equivalent in writing. Sure you have books that can take you on a journey, but it is just that, a journey. A time commitment that you must dedicate yourself to. You can glance a painting in a few mere moments and take away so much, a quick glance of a book doesn't give you anything.
Then I realized that poems do much what pictures and paintings do. They give you a glimpse into a world with only a few verses. A well written poem can stay with you just as a good photo or drawing.
Take, for instance, the last verse of “A Tree Song” by Rudyard Kipling:
Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight, Or he would call it a sin; But – we have been out in the woods all night, A-conjuring Summer in! And we bring you news by word of mouth- Good news for cattle and corn- Now is the Sun come up from the South, With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Can't you just imagine the people in the forest dancing and singing all night trying to conjure in Summer? Or perhaps they performed and animal sacrifice and sang in a trance! Your imagination can run away with just a single verse. They risked the wrath of the priest and the church to help bring Summer in for everyone. It was “Good news for cattle and corn”!
I will admit, there is more work required to enjoy a poem then to enjoy a picture. Some of the prose can be hard to understand, and sometimes metaphors still go over my head. Still, I think that poems are the closest we have to a picture. What do you think?
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