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Assessing A Poem

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Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D.
Good poetry imparts understanding, pleasant feelings, or raises ones internal mindset, attitude, and atmosphere to a higher level. The impact makes better all that one then produces, at least for a while.

One reason for this concerns those meanings created by incongruence and from unpredictable synthesis— e.g. starry diamonds; golden clouds; eyes of the night. A second is the way a poem is constructed –some unusual arrangement or combination or form that leads to a new experience. A third is the content— particularly about exciting memories it brings to mind or about expressing, sharing, or entertaining-and not necessarily about persuading, informing, teaching, instructing, educating, or serving as a call to action. Good poetry plants Sublime feelings, each of which is capable of gradually budding, flowering, and perhaps fruiting inside ones Selfhood. This suggests that as the main pleasant thought grows it is also branching pleasant ideas for other things that may or may not be related. The elevated sense of Being and resultant Self-Growth allows one to see more interrelationships between dissimilar and similar things (which generate new meanings and increase ones knowledge); to see the common in the uncommon; and to see the uncommon in the common—each of which may cause the equal to be viewed in a new light. One becomes more aware of the finer things of life; becomes more aesthetically understanding and more creative; and becomes more eager to pay attention to details, as in fashioning an urge to re-read the poem in order to further ones understanding, to expand ones pleasure, and to be creative. 

The subject matter of great poems is vast and of universal relevance.  Some authors focus on a category of human existence, as with Homer’s works deal with the heroic aspect of man. Others avoid or pay close attention to the cognitive aspects so as not to lose touch with ones feeling or rational Self or with the intimate nature and perceptual richness of things. The process of cognition as a subject comprises all the processes by which one acquires knowledge—including perceiving, thinking, remembering, wondering, imagining, generalizing, and judging.  Some are interested purely in the beauty or aesthetics of poems.

“Poetry” and “Aesthetic” generally go together. The word “Aesthetic” was coined by the German philosopher Baumgarten in 1750 from the Greek word aestheticos—etymologically referring to what is “perceptive and sensuous.” However, the aesthetic can not be treated in a scientific

way because there is non standard of taste—an important point to keep in mind by those who are writing for themselves. Yet, if one is a classroom student, it is important to know that there is a framework which is used by recognized assessors of poetry in which there is general agreement of what constitutes good poetry. For example, they look for precision in discrimination of subtle things and progressive fineness in the elaboration of the beautiful or whatever is being described.

Many Poets and assessors of poetry try to reduce a work of art to sensuous or perceptual impressions.  Since it is the mind that perceives—and not the senses—the cultivation of Perception is really a development of the mind. One method of doing this is to read the poem aloud and place emphasis on the verbalization so that the phonetic aspects of the word (sound, onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm, assonance) acquire prominence. In this way harmony or disharmony is detectable. A second method is to transform concepts into imagery by lofty words and metaphors. Apart from the role of metaphors to produce imagery, that imagery is well thought out when it is also transformed into a similarity or into a metaphorical identity. By so doing, the poet shows richness and versatility; shows potential possibilities of the poet’s mind; and shows the visionary quality of the poem.

website: www.jablifeskills.com

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