Articulate theorist of the French Symbolist poets, Stephan Mallarme, famously declared that “all art constantly aspires to the condition of music” and surely poetry comes closest to fulfilling that aspiration among the literary arts. Fiction and drama can also be subtle and suggestive, of course, but they cannot approximate the economy and passion of poetry.

Equally famously described by Pope as “the best words in the best order”, poetry holds a special place among the arts. It is, possibly, the most personal form of writing, using words with an almost obsessive care, succeeding, often, in piercing the heart of the reader with just a few well-constructed and well-aimed darts. Whether it be a 5 line haiku that sketches the most vibrant of pictures, a sonnet with its well-managed “turn” in thought, an ode with its heart-felt tribute or even an august epic with its indomitable heroes and a message of national significance, poetry speaks to the inner man, to his very soul, more effectively than any other form of literature.

Over the ages the concept of the function of poetry has constantly undergone change. The neo-classical age in Britain saw satire (with its underlying intention of reform), wit (what could be more entertaining than this evidence of the sharpness of the human mind?) and even the political poem (like “Absalom and Achitophel”) discussing the issue of the succession to the throne. The following century was to see a near-revolution in literature with Wordsworth’s concept of the “lyrical ballad”: a sort of poetry that even the commonest man could understand and appreciate, concerned with the universal passions, speaking to the heart of mankind.

There have been many myths and images of the poet. He has been seen as a seer and a sage, a visionary, a leader of men. He has also been considered, by some, as effeminate, playing with words and emotions rather than acting upon the stage of the real world of action. Aristotle used the word to denote “the maker”, every sort of creative artist. The Romantics believed that their imagination, their creativity was the reflection of their divinity, linking them to Godhead. In “Kubla Khan” Coleridge’s poet is a magical being who shares the food of the gods and inspires awe with his ability to create alternate worlds. Certainly, Aristotle has opined that poetry has a truth that is more important than the truth of history.

It would seem that poetry is an intensely impactful medium. How effective have poets been through the ages? If we are to believe Shelley, then poets are “the unacknowledged legislators of mankind”. Far more than ostentatiously communicated banks of knowledge, poetry has a way of percolating subliminally, being absorbed to the very core of man’s being.  His own poems, like the “Ode to the West Wind”, advocate change, even revolution. How powerful is the message of so short a poem!

A poem is a powerful statement: a statement of the writer’s creativity, his thought processes, his taste and unique individuality. We have all written poetry as schoolchildren. It might have been embarrassingly revealing or just simply absurdly rhyming. We hadn’t yet found the best tools but we had unconsciously chosen the medium that seemed the most sincere, the most honest, the most expressive of our inner selves.

Perhaps it is time now to move onwards to more confident expression, to an acknowledgement that there are many people out there who write poetry too. Surely it would be interesting to share our experiences, our thoughts, our techniques.

We have all heard of the Muses that have driven artists to create. We can be each others’ Muses! One man’s poem can be another man’s inspiration! Better than lectures, messages, demonstrations, newspaper articles and all sorts of propaganda, is the inhalation of an idea embedded in a poem.

Tennyson repeatedly used the symbol of the high-born maiden imprisoned in a tower to denote the creative artist who is lost in his own musings, making beautiful music or weaving a beautiful tapestry but with little connection with the great world outside. But, increasingly, in his later works, he had his secluded maiden break out of her solitude and come out into the real world. Surely, the significant artist must be vitally connected with the world he inhabits, with opinions, critiques, alternate suggestions for it.

“Be the change you want to see.” We’ve all heard that one before! How about actually acting accordingly? Now. Let’s hear you now: your thoughts and suggestions for a better world, your faith in what is to be, your concept of what that better world should be.

Wonderfully, we now have a great online platform to share the thoughts and opinions couched in our poetry. So let’s do it! Because we can!