Hindsight 2020, Oh Captain! My Captain!

The COVID has reignited my love for poetry. There’s so much poetry in motion these days as people reflect on what this virus has brought us and then pen their thoughts in verse and metre. 

What is Poetry?

I’m aware that poetry isn’t for everyone. And many have asked, “What is poetry?” 

Technically, poetry is a rigid form. But when done right, following poetic rules, therein lies freedom and rhythm. Many think that rhythm is found in words that rhyme. Here’s some food for thought:

Not all poems rhyme, so readers beware. But all poems have a rhythm, which the ear catches even when listening to blank or un-rhyming verse

If rules don’t stick, then there’s free verse where poems are written with no specific rules or patterns. Here’s an example

Now that you know what poetry is, here’s what you must know.

Why Poetry? 

Oh Captain! My Captain!–maybe this might jog your memory. This poem by Walt Whitman spoke to the people of America in 1865. It was 7 months after Lincoln’s assassination. After Lincoln’s death, the people were caught up in a state of shock and grieve. For those of us who’ve lost loved ones, there are no words that can describe how we feel. There’s nothing anyone can say that’ll make sense. However, poetry can offer people respite, acknowledgement and affirmation. Poetry moves people. Poetry cuts to the heart. It’s a balm in times of crisis as Poetry changes lives.

I’m always a little envious of poets and writers who can write across genres with poetry being one. Alas, I can only sit back and enjoy the sounds of their words because no matter how hard I try, I just don’t have it in me—come virus or high fever—to write poetry. So I listen as people read. I cogitate on the phrases. I ruminate on the metaphors. I tap my feet to the rhythm of the musicality. And, sometimes, I cry just a little. 

Like to this beautiful piece, Hindsight 2020. Written to be read to a future child who wants to know why The Great Realisation took place, this poem is why poetry moves people. It’s so beautifully done, my heart tugged and the flood gates opened up.

Yet, the words were a balm to me as I stay home safe, even as the subject matter is poignant and the truth hard to reckon with…“sometimes, you got to get sick, my boy, before you start feeling better.” 

Meanwhile, “lie down and dream of tomorrow and all the things we can do. And who knows, if you dream hard enough, some of them will come true.”

Poetry brings Hope.

What’s a poem you’d like to share, my friends. You can comment below.

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