by Angela Umphers Rueger
So many lines of verse
Holding a message terse
Hoping some will rehearse
To hearing ears.
Cadence in every line
Rhythm made by design
Something to make it mine
Through all the years.
Outlet for joy and pain
Seldom a source of gain
Difficult to restrain
Seldom does a day go by that I don’t write something in my journal. No matter what mood I’m in, no matter what’s going on in my life, journaling is a perfect fit.
But there’s one thing I like more than journaling, and that is writing poetry. Why? After all, isn’t writing a poem much the same as writing a journal entry? They both address conflicts and record emotions, events, and significant relationships. This is true, but the poetic form does have certain advantages over prose.
- Writing poetry forces me to think deeply about what I want to say. It makes me slow down and meditate rather than simply allowing the ideas to pour out unchecked onto the paper. Not only do I stop and smell the proverbial roses, but I examine every petal, allow the thorns to prick my finger, listen as a breeze rustles the leaves, and drink in the scent as it wafts past. To write a good poem, I need to know not only what I want to say, but why and to whom I want to say it.
- Writing poetry expands my knowledge of the English language, in both vocabulary and structure. I broaden my horizons that I may narrow my focus; thus I convey more thoughts with fewer words. A journal entry can be edited for conciseness, but a poem elevates conciseness to an art form. This degree of efficiency simply is not possible by any other means.
- To the same degree that it invigorates the mind, writing poetry soothes the soul. A tumultuous mood mellows into calmness; melancholy melts into serenity; ecstasy settles into joy. Extreme highs and lows both find their balance here. Writing in any form is therapeutic, but poetry penetrates deeply to heal emotional wounds. It is the difference between Foster and Beethoven—both fine composers of excellent music, but each serving a different purpose. As there is a time for Foster and a time for Beethoven, likewise there is a time for both prose and poetry.
- Writing poetry accomplishes a purpose. Whether writing to entertain, inspire, or call to action, poetry can accomplish the goal more effectively than prose. And writing to address some unanswered question: this for me is the most rewarding use of poetry, for I usually find the answer as the poem unfolds, and then I have it always to refer back to or share with others who have the same question.
Every volume of my journal contains some poetry, both my own and that of others. In fact, I would venture to say that I lean rather heavily on the poetry of others, particularly in song. Music is the essence of life, and poetry is the essence of music. I look forward to sharing more poetry with you in days to come.
Photo taken in Bullock, North Carolina, 2017