I think I’ve mentioned that I’m studying the Romantic poets. Well, since I’m virtually breathing poetry and dreaming about clouds, daffodils, Mont Blanc, sonnets, epics, quatrains, couplets and blank verse, it got me thinking. Why do most – not all – readers no longer read poetry either for pleasure or intellectual stimulation? Excuse the generalisation, I know a lot of WordPress bloggers write poetry, and so probably read it too. But don’t you think there is something very appealing about a world which revelled in poetry and avidly read it aloud, and made poets like Wordsworth, Byron and Shelley into celebrities? Do you think we have any poetic equivalents in the digital world of the 21st century? The closest I think, apart from actual living, breathing poets, would be writers of music lyrics.
As a quick escape from Shelley (!), I decided to take a look at one of my favourite songs: Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence (a couple of verses) to see if it could pass as poetry.
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk to you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence.
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.
The verses make use of the devices of poetry, a rhyme scheme, repetition of sounds, words, letters and enjambment and, if you read it aloud and ignore the music that goes with it, it is pure poetry.
Wordsworth, Shelley et al, wrote from the heart to deliver highly personal, insightful, meaningful poetry. In the days before TV and social media, people read poetry aloud and discussed their meaning and form. The poems of Wordsworth were about nature and personal growth and no doubt, each reader gleaned something different, something personal from the words. Sounds of Silence has the same effect on me; when I hear the song it means something unique to me, it reminds me of particular situations in my life, it resonates. Good music lyrics, and I do mean good – One Direction’s don’t quite cut it – engender a visceral, personal reaction, much like the poets of old.
Even though the Romantic poets are proving a little challenging, I am enjoying immersing myself in words and images and trying to understand what each poem means to me. So, even if you don’t read poetry, take a minute to think about a song that means something to you and look at the lyrics; you might just find some.
Do you have a favourite song that reads aloud like a poem? Do you agree that songs are the poems of our era? Do you have a favourite?
Categories: Just Plain Blog