What is #Poetry? #NationalPoetryMonth

“The crown of literature is poetry.” – W. Somerset Maugham

Every year, I ask this question! Every year, I understand another nuance of poetry.

Each person has his own definition of poetry but putting a few words together doesn’t make poetry. A poem has a soul, a heart and an emotion. Even a haiku is meaningless without a soul.

However complex or flowery the language, a poem must be meaningful and the value of the words should reach the reader. An ambiguous poem is like an abandoned castle that lacks charm.

I’ve read many such so-called modern poems that lack clarity of thought, also those with multiple interpretations. While the latter earned my admiration, the former continue to teach profound lessons.

I keep returning to quotable definitions to understand poetry and each time I learn something new.

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” – Carl Sandburg.

I could hear that echo. I have seen the dance of shadows. I’ve embraced those shadows and put them into words.

“It may be said that poems are in one way like icebergs: only about a third of their bulk appears above the surface of the page.” – Howard Nemerov.

The ice never melts and therefore most people avoid poetry. They just touch the surface and don’t wait for a little thaw that waits within the words.

“A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley.

This is such a sweet compliment but there is no doubt that poets do try to cheer themselves by blending their sorrows into the words till they sound sweet.

“Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.” – Dennis Gabor.

A poem may not be rhythmic, but the music could be ingrained in the emotions embedded within the words. It would surely reach your heart if you pay attention to them.

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” – William Wordsworth.

A poem without emotions would seem hollow. Poetry is the best form of expressing emotions, as just one metaphor could convey a thousand feelings.

“Poetry is the mother-tongue of the human race.” – Johann Georg Hamann.

Look around and hear the poetry of Mother Nature. We learned all those cadences from her… the rustling of leaves, the babbling of brooks, the gurgling waterfalls and all those notes taught us poetry.

“Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.” – Don Marquis.

You can share your own definition. I am eager to hear your thoughts about poetry.

You can click here for more poetry.

If you like poetry,  check my latest book: Magical Whispers

Balroop Singh.


61 thoughts on “What is #Poetry? #NationalPoetryMonth

  1. Beautiful post, Balroop. You have written magnificently about what poems should be and are. It cheered me this
    morning and gave courage back to a tired scribbler.
    Your quotes are all fantastic.
    Have to quote two of them : “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” – Carl Sandburg “

    And the last one that has me giggling as well as seeing how small our voices are, yet powerful.

    Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.” – Don Marquis.“
    Thank you Balroop


    1. You understand poetry so well Miriam. Those two quotes are my favorite too. Thank you for sharing your lovely words. You write beautiful poems and they do have a heart and a soul.

  2. What a beautiful post, Balroop. I’m especially enamored of the quote by Carl Sandburg.
    I admit I don’t know a lot about poetry (I dabbled in it in my younger days), but I am most fond of poetry that reflects the nuances of nature. There’s something about it that’s just so soothing to the soul.

    1. My connections with nature poetry is as old as reading poetry for passing the exams. In those days when poetry seemed a burden, Wordsworth and Coleridge stood out as poets who could reach my heart, as they talked about human connection with nature. 🙂

    1. National poetry month inspires me to reflect on poetry, this time I came across some wonderful quotes and had to share. 🙂 Thank you for liking them.

  3. So many good insights as to what Poetry is, Balroop. I can’t add much to that other than its a way to engage my soul, and heart. Happy National Poetry Month!

  4. I love all of these quotes, Balroop. To me, poetry is whispers of the soul and it will whisper differently for each. Happy Poetry Month!

  5. Wonderful share, Balroop. I love the quotes you’ve shared, one of which I’ve now written in my poetry journal (Carl Sandburg). Also, your thoughts on what makes a poem more than just organized words; I agree there has to be clarity. To me, a poem can tell a simple story, too.
    Happy first day of poetry month, Balroop!

  6. Excellent post. I love that poetry gives all of us another way to communicate, fully, maybe with more meaning. I love the last quote by Don Marquis.

  7. I loved reading your reflections on the famous definitions of poetry – what an amazing collection! My favorite of yours is –
    The ice never melts and therefore most people avoid poetry. They just touch the surface and don’t wait for a little thaw that waits within the words.

    So true that poetry begs to be savored for its juices that might also come from silent pause after reading one or repeat reading. The soul and the emotion of the poem in transmission is the essential beauty of it.

    1. Thank you for picking up my reflection Prag … I am feeling honored that you paid attention to this one, as poetry is actually an iceberg for many. 😊 A poem has to be read at least twice and slowly each time, to reach its soul. That’s what I feel. I agree with the silent pause that whispers. ❤️🤗

  8. Wow! Balroop, a stunning post exploring the nature of poetry! With each quote I had to pause, fully absorb the words, the emotions behind them … just as one does reading poetry! Every quote became my new favourite, the sweetness of Shelley, the wisdom of Nemerov, the emotional intelligence of Wordsworth. But your final one by Marquis is fabulous. I’m visualising the single petal drifting down the Grand Canyon … the hiatus, an echo! Wonderful imagery! Also, is that your photo of the Grand Canyon? It is truly magnificent and looks like a river of gold flowing far below. xx

    1. All these quotes speak to me too in the same emotional manner Annika. Thank you for pausing after reading each one to discern the real emotion behind the words. True, they are no less than poems in themselves. I agree with you regarding the magnificence of that picture of the Grand Canyon but I borrowed it from Pixaby. 🙂

  9. Happy National Poetry month to you, Balroop. I can sense your excitement as you wrote this post. ‘A poem has a soul, a heart and an emotion’ What a lovely way to describe a well-thought out poem- and all the poems you write too. I really enjoyed these quotes about poetry and poets that you shared. The quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley reminds us that being a poet is not easy. While a piece poetry usually isn’t as long as an essay, it almost always is as challenging to write and articulate. Personally I’ve always found writing poetry challenging, in fact it’s the most challenging genre of writing to me. Maybe one day I will get better at it. Hope you are doing well and take care 🙂

  10. Thank you for coming over to celebrate National Poetry Month Mabel. I am glad you liked my definition of poetry and yes, its not easy to be a poet. Writing poetry is more of an innate gift, which can be embellished slowly. Each year I try to understand this genre a little more. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

  11. I don’t know much about poetry, only that the right words, written with depth and meaning, stirs my hearts. I love the first quote you shared here, Balroop. Your poetry is much like dancing with the emotions ❤

  12. A beautiful post, Balroop! Loved all the definitions. Poetry has given me a reason to really live!!! 🤗🤗♥️🌹🙏🌟✨

  13. I write Many poems dear Balroop… And didn’t Know April was Poetry Month.. lol…. I am in agreement with you, in that my poems have meaning.. And I hope they are interpretable to others as to the core depth of the message they hold..
    I have never been one for whimsical flowery words that float into space to leave us pondering on their meaning.. I use my poems to reach out to at times hit hard upon a theme which I know if I tackled in a normal essay would lose merit… Because my own thought process is not as many within the mainstream of what people always want to hear…
    So I am able to speak words louder in poetry….
    Thank you for sharing this.. Loved your thoughts and the quotes you used Balroop…
    Sending Love and well wishes my friend..
    Stay Blessed Balroop…
    Love Sue ❤ 🙏💖

    1. You write the most meaningful poetry Sue. Yes, I have struggled with many such poems that you mention as “words that float into space” wondering about the theme, thinking why are they beyond my comprehension! I agree with you… poetry allows you to speak many languages in whatever tone you want. You understand poetry so well dear friend. Love and hugs. 🤗

      1. Thank you dearest Balroop you just paid me the best compliment ever my friend…. For your poetry is profound and true my friend… THANK YOU… 🙏💛

  14. This is a great post with wonderful quotes about poetry, Balroop. I liked “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” by William Wordsworth. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

Comments are closed.