Let’s get a few things straight: Poetry isn’t always pretty. It is not a confession. While it can be somber, it doesn’t have to be.
Long before their poems were published in text books, poets lived lives worth writing about. Lord Byron died fighting in a conflict in which he desperately believed. Gwendolyn Brooks’ and Walt Whitman’s work was banned in a variety of schools across America. Emily Dickenson lived in complete isolation, interacting with others only by slipping correspondence under her bedroom door.
Okay. Admittedly, Dickenson’s life doesn’t sound very appealing. Still, she had something in common with Byron, Brooks, Whitman, and the rest: she took risks. She, like most great artists, rejected convention and confronted the status quo; she just happened to do it without leaving her room.
Still don’t believe me? Well, consider this: Plato, one of the most influential thinkers in the history of Western culture, argued that poets are dangerous. Tomorrow, we will find out why.
Here are a few poems that I love. You are morally obligated to enjoy them.