Poetic Opacity

Poetic Opacity

 

Quote:

‘Opacity is an intrinsic characteristic of some poetry.
It simultaneously enables and complicates reception’
‘As much as we might have enjoyed reading (and writing) poetry when we were children, in school we are taught that poetry is inherently “difficult,” and that by its very nature it somehow makes meaning by hiding meaning.’    Matthew Zapruder (2017)

I wonder if a poem can only be a poem if it’s meaning is opaque?
Anything which is more straightforward is something of a fake
I don’t wish this comment to appear anti-intellectual
Perhaps my simple verses are really somewhat ineffectual

The use of English language, plain,  uncomplicated
Where each word and line of every verse is quite clearly stated
With a minimal use of tropes, metaphor or simile
Helps to convey the meaning with very little difficulty

But lack of figurative language, leaving all things quite literal
Ignores deep emotions, which ‘true’ poetry renders visceral
Thus the absence of oxymoron, hyperbole and allusion
For which bland literalism is no good substitution

But some might claim this is simply all far too transparent
Demands nothing of the reader to plumb its depths inherent
A true poem should stretch the questing mind
To open the eyes which otherwise stay blind

So poems where at first the meaning seems opaque
Where we must wrestle hard thus the hidden code to break
When we are challenged by obscure ideas and expressions
In the end the aesthetic reward is seemingly more precious

I suppose I do not wish to argue the validity of the case
In favour of poetic opacity, which doggerel might debase
But simple words conveying ideas quite transparent
I am still convinced might your close attention warrant

Ken Fisher

 

See also: In Praise of Poetry    Anatomy of Poetry

If Typists Were Poets

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