Will poetry make you any smarter or wiser?


Few nights ago, almost after 20 years I watched “Dead poets society” movie again. Having poetry as  my regular friend and companion sheds completely new light not only on the understanding of the movie itself, but on the distance I made from a person I used to be to a person I believe I am today.  When I first watched movie, it was more interesting from a teenage point of view – I was in high school and it was amusing to relate to main characters’ early adolescent ups and downs. I certainly don’t attempt to analyze the movie here, but two main messages stuck to my mind after the second watch: how poetry so beautifully offers that different perspective, seeing world from another angle, through different color of lenses, walk in the shoes that can be too tight and make blisters or two big that make us feel clumsy and insecure.

But that is the only truth that exists – there is not only one truth and one reality. You can taste life on many levels and interpret events in endless ways. Poetry acts here as kind of a shortcut to that realization. And once you become aware (which leads me to the second message) is that it somehow gives you a wind in a back, a reassurance that it is OK not to conform; it is OK step out of typical societal expectations.

Will poetry make you any smarter or wiser? It’s hard to say 🙂 But it will help you realize that there is something else, different. It will help you to seize the possibilities and easier to recognize your own capabilities. It’s like sampling life experiences and choosing what you want for yourself.

Each poem is a story, a snapshot of life in particular place and moment in time. You are that third variable, invaluable ingredient that transcends unique experience – both as a writer and reader. Being present with the poem is allowing it to really consume your whole being and from there magic happens – it does have the power to give you strength and courage to enter that different reality. All you need is to let yourself surrender.

I want to once more emphasize that this is not my analyzes and critique on poetic, artistic or emotional value of the movie – merely my thoughts on poetry inspired by it.

For the end of this post I would like to share with you poem by Wisława Szymborska where she so eloquently expresses the uncertainty of our perceived reality and human nature in general. As we are connected but individual, each experience is unique, but universal. Each life is special and so ordinary in the same time.

Could Have

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.

You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck—there was a forest.
You were in luck—there were no trees.
You were in luck—a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
a jamb, a turn, a quarter inch, an instant.
You were in luck—just then a straw went floating by.

As a result, because, although, despite.
What would have happened if a hand, a foot,
within an inch, a hairsbreadth from
an unfortunate coincidence.

So you’re here? Still dizzy from another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn’t be more shocked or speechless.
how your heart pounds inside me.

Wisława Szymborska

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43 thoughts on “Will poetry make you any smarter or wiser?

  1. Reblogged this on newauthoronline and commented:
    I am not sure that poetry makes a person any smarter or wiser. Poetry is, in the final analysis it’s own point. We take from a poem what resonates with us. We share the joys, sorrows, anger etc of the poet or, on occasions disagree with the poem’s message (always assuming of course that it has one and, if it does that we have understood it correctly). Ultimately poetry matters in and of itself. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s strange but when poetry flows out and I analyse it I find my story within the words. You always make things clearer. Thanks again for another thought provoking post with lovely poem attached 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To all who think poetry is frivolous,I have a question,how can poetry not be essential? I fail to understand that…
    poetry changes us,mostly for the better,if only we were open to the idea of it…love your post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. wow … lovely article, and I just penned an article today and quoted from Dead Poets Society. I to love the writing of Wislawa Szymborska and her collection: “MAP” is always lying well thumbed on my desk or in my briefcase when I travel. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a subject very close to my heart; reading, writing and living poetry …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another excellent and thought provoking post Maja. I think the beauty of poetry is not that it makes you smarter or wiser, it is that is gives you another viewpoint and perspective on life. It is like a photo, it takes you into the mind of the poet at a particular moment in time and gives the reader space for reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Davy – the title is a little bit provocative just as the post – I like to stir up imagination and get people think and talk about poetry. This exchange of thoughts is excellent way for us to learn more from each other. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your view.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A pleasure Maja. I have the same focus for my blog so love the interaction with other writers and poets. Have a great writing week 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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