The Importance of Poetry in Literature

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Joe Patterson
Com 200
Masterson
December 11, 2006

The Importance of Poetry in Literature

“Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” ' T.S. Eliot

Poetry, just as in other literature contributes a major role in the development of many aspects of life. The utilization of poets and poetry can serve for many different positive purposes and effects on society. Poetry may supply an essential element in man growth such as building fresh, articulate vocabulary and reasoning skills. It also establishes intellectual connections, sometimes sparking insightful opinions through exciting and innovative ideas or ways of expression that were never seen or thought of before, possibly inspiring even more ingenious work to be produced. Poets may use animated and vibrant imagery to invite the reader to see exactly what he or she is trying to convey—whether it’s a particular scene or time period, creating an outlook or prospective on life that may not be offered by other sources of media. Profound and thought provoking language contributes to serious tones that could be applied to inform of a subject matter for the reader to take notice and reflect on. Simple entertainment is also a very common basis of poetry. Many poets use comedy or tell a humorous story to amuse its readers. Poetry adds aspects that television and other forms of multimedia do not offer. It allows one’s imagination to be totally encompassed and captivated within. Poets use poetry as a vast form of communication across the world to act as a universal transmitter of all thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Poetry is a timeless, resourceful art, which could serve to value the youngest or eldest of readers. With the various types and styles composing poetry, poets have infinite access to expression. Langston Hughes (1902-1067), the famous African American poet/author during the Harlem Renaissance (often called the “Shakespeare of Harlem”) used his poetry and other writings to describe the life and times— the joys and struggles—of African Americans in America during the 1920s through the 1960s. He used vivid imagery and various metaphorical statements to represent certain ideas. Though most of his works are aimed at the African American culture, Hughes offers up positive thoughts that can transcend to all people often in forms of intuitive questions or messages posed for an uplifting attitude. In the poem ‘Dreams’, he urges people to hold onto their dreams, Hughes compares broken dreams to a broken-winged bird and barren field; two images that automatically trigger a sense desolation. The colorful language generates the feel of urgency and importance of holding on to dreams and goals. Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow
-“Dreams” Langston Hughes (1951)

In ‘A Dream Deferred’, Hughes asks the question “What happens to a dream deferred?” Hughes goes on again to express that dreams that are not nourished and enriched will just perish and become useless to all. That last line is another question asking “Or does it explode”. Referring back to the deferred dream, after all of the negative images Hughes presents; if a dream is wasted he asks if it just explodes. One could determine it’s from the pressure from all of the unknown possibilities of either excellence or failure that would never be found in a deferred dream.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
-Langston...
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