Thursday, September 15, 2005

I had in mind to make my first official post something different, but since Patry asked me a question, I’ll answer. Socrates said at some point between 469 B.C.E. and 399 B.C.E., “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I think reading and writing poetry is one way to lead the examined life. Reading poetry helps you learn about the interior lives of other people (what they think, feel, imagine, hope, and dream) and learn about the world at large. I also think reading poetry helps you see the world in new and unfamiliar ways.

Writing poetry has many benefits, among them teaching you more about yourself, and it forces you to become more observant of world around you. After all, poets are not only thieves but also collectors (e.g., collectors of words, experiences, knowledge). The thievery part reminds me of a T.S. Eliot quote: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

Going back to Socrates, Socrates also said, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.” This is one of the reasons to read in general, and reading poetry is a special kind of reading since the language is heightened by what one hopes are the best words in the best order with a musical score to them.


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