Prompt: Do you like poetry? Why or why not? Include a copy of your favorite poem, and explain why you like it best.
You want me to pick a single favorite poem? A single one? I’m sorry, it’s impossible. I have too many favorites.
Sound is an art form unlike any other. I have to say it’s one of my favorites. A master poet manipulates all the elements of sound to work together and create a meaningful poem. However, to fully appreciate this meaning, like a detective, you must pay attention to the poet’s clues: meter, rhythm, assonance, dissonance, and etc. Treat the great poets as mystery writers, and read to solve their mysteries. You will discover the beauty of poetry.
In the particular poem I have copied below, T. S. Eliot describes Christ and his work on our behalf. I love his images of Christ, the “wounded surgeon,” the “dying nurse,” and the “ruined millionaire.” The last verse always gives me chills. I know it’s a little confusing to read at first, but see what you can do to unravel the mysteries.
East Coker IV, T. S. Eliot
The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part’
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse
The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.
The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.
The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, inspite of that, we call this Friday good.
Click on the links below to read more of my favorite poems:
I highly recommend Perrine’s Sound and Sense for a thorough introductory study of the elements of poetry.