Still thinking about poetry after a couple of sessions with an old poetry anthology, skipping here and there to “old favorites,” noting the comments scribbled in the margins of the poems.
I wrote about the sound and then the structure of poetry; today I want to put the two together to discuss meaning. Poems are not merely lyrical expressions of ecstasy that sound good. They must deal with the relationship of the poet to the world. Indeed, poetry is something that connects the world and man, “trap[ping] Heaven and Earth in a cage of form.” (LuChi) Form refers to meaningful shape or structure, a shape to which our emotions respond.
In order for poetry to be a “means to a meaning, “(Ezra Pound), it must have an appropriate form. Good poetry takes ordinary words and places them in the poem in an arrangement that signifies something “more.” Pound also writes that every word is “charged with meaning.” Placed within the form of the poem, the same ordinary words will strike differently, but directly at the reader’s emotions. If the poet changes the sound or structure of the poem, he changes the meaning. The meanings and emotions of love are enhanced by both the sound and structure traditional to the sonnet.
Blending sound and form (or structure) are two of the poet’s tools which he uses to enhance both meaning and draw out emotion. Taking a “sound check” of a poem and deciphering its structure can only enhance one’s enjoyment of a poem.