Have a look at this poem:
In a flowered dell the Lady Venus stood,
Amazed with sorrow. Down the morning one
Far golden horn in the gold of trees and sun
Rang out; and held; and died…. She thought the wood
Grew quieter. Wing, and leaf, and pool of light
Forgot to dance. Dumb lay the unfalling stream;
Life one eternal instant rose in dream
Clear out of time, poised on a golden height….
Dreadful, isn’t it ? How about “ flowered dell” ? Dell ? Who the hell says “dell” ? It’s a Poetic Word. It’s a signal that what follows is Great Art. Look at “down the morning…to.. Rang out.” First of all the main verb “ rang out” comes at the end of a long sentence. It’s meant to be mannerly, stately. And what about “ Down the morning” Down ? what on earth does the phrase actually mean ? Top marks for poshness Rupe ( it’s by Rupert Brooke) but an F- for common sense.
Let’s have more fun. “Wing and leaf, And pool of light/ Forgot to dance” I beg your pudding ! What is the wing attached to ? A bird perhaps ? And do leaves and pools of light have bad memories ?
Had enough ? I certainly have. I’m sure you get the point. This is poetic language, which is different and far more beautiful than the language mere oiks like us use. Cobblers. Time for our first acronym:
KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Use the shortest word you can find to do the job. Use the smallest number of words you can. If a word is not paying the rent- then cut it. Be cruel to the little devils- make one word do the work of five if you can. It’s a well known law of nature that poets are incapable of using a simple noun without slapping an adjective in front of it. You need adjectives, yes- but ration yourself . Which leads us to our second acronym.
LIM (Less Is More)
Go Minimalist but give them Story Plus . Make your poem into a puzzle. Draw the reader in by making the surface meaning easy to get hold of. Keep your reader by hinting at something below the surface. Remember- ambiguity is your friend here. Play with it. Have fun.
And now the third
AAA ( no- not anti-aircraft artillery) Avoid Awkward Abstracts
Love. Hate. Anguish. Desire. Loss.Ecstasy.
Don’t use them. They mean nothing on their own. Borrow a phrase from fiction writers-
“ Show- Don’t Tell.”
There. Now you know the rules I try to stick to when I’m writing poetry.
But you may have an entirely different, and equally valid, way of writing.
Put down the quill and unfold the keyboard. Tell me about it.