The definition of poetry, according to Merriam Webster, is: “Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.” I have been writing poems since middle school, where I realized that I wanted to have a career in writing in the first place. Admittedly, I was not very great at first, so I practiced over the course of a few years. Poetry, to many, may seem like an art form that is dying out, but it is so much beyond the Shakespearean concept of comparing your love to a summer’s day (although there is nothing wrong with that!). Now that I mentioned the definition, I want to take a look at one poem in particular:

Mad Girl’s Love Song – Sylvia Plath

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

Sylvia Plath is one of my absolute favorite poets of all time. To me, she is a master of emotion and flow, inspiring me heavily. I read “Mad Girl’s Love Song” when I was in high school, and it is still at the top of my list of favorite poems to date.I consider this poem a tribute to her own instability. Plath attempted suicide many times after this poem was written, which I think she was confessing in these six stanzas. I will not get too much into her tragic background, but I recommend researching her short-lived life as it is increasingly relevant to her writing style.

I do not suffer from depression. Nothing haunts me to write the way that Sylvia did. That being said, what she inspired me to do was to confess my own emotion and try to invoke that in the reader. Even if they have never felt the emotion that I am dealing with, I want to force them to. Often I find myself writing a poem seemingly without meaning, only to read it later upon completion and realize what I was trying to say. Thus, since I have trouble sticking with a clear theme/idea right from the start of my writing process, I try to place my emotion in my details and imagery, just as Sylvia does. Her poem is only one that makes up an entire genre, but I chose it as it stands out to me.

How does poetry relate back to writing culture?

Poetry is traditional, yet poetry is modern. It is an art form that is evolving throughout time. Writing a poem can be a useful outlet to deal with difficult times, or just as a hobby! I think poetry ultimately reflects writing culture in the way that it refused to die out (almost as a symbol). It withstood many decades and centuries, and right now, someone, somewhere, is writing a poem. This, in my opinion, shows the durability of the culture of writing.


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