What We Expect Of The Poet: Sense (2015-07-15)
“A poem isn’t a puzzle, except perhaps in the
sense that life is a puzzle. There is no solution to either.”
It is understandable that if one assumes a poem is a puzzle one might want to shout, “Just say what you mean in plain English!” But of course a poem can’t be translated into simple declarative statements.
That doesn’t mean poetry shouldn’t ‘make sense’. Even so-called nonsense poems such as Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” make sense. But poetic sense is very different from literal, prosaic sense. It is the sense that metaphor makes. It is the sense that elicited associations have. And it is the sense that emotions have.
A poem’s’ sense resides in internal coherence and consistency. The poem has to make sense in the context of the poem itself.
Sensitivity to this kind of sense only comes with experience.