Poetry as a Mirror: Life Described in Rhyme and Verse

by | Nov 29, 2023 | About Life, Poetry | 0 comments

Photo by Josh Willink

The Color of Life, a collection of poetic musings about the landscape of life by Quattlebaum, is a prime example of how poetry serves as a mirror, reflecting life through rhyme and verse.

As one of the oldest art forms, poetry has been a cornerstone of human culture since time immemorial. Now, what it means practically is that poetry serves as a mirror—a very reliable one—for people to reflect on their own lives and the lives of the people around them. Since humanity first invented language to now, when we have the entirety of human knowledge stocked in our smartphones, poets have been observers and chroniclers, capturing the essence of life and writing it down in rhyme and verse. Throughout millennia, we can have a glimpse of the ways that different cultures have explored love, loss, joy, sorrow, and everything in between.

Poetry is so well-suited to reflecting life because it takes advantage of how dynamic and flexible language is to evoke emotions and stir the heart beneath our flesh. When we are reading poetry and immersed deeply in it, we are taken to another time and place, made to laugh and cry and to challenge how we see the world.

Through its ability to capture the nuances and complexities of human experience and distill it into a more digestible form, poetry brings us catharsis, which allows us to process our emotions more organically and helps us make sense of the chaos in our lives. Specific examples of poetry can also be a reliable source of comfort and inspiration.

Poetry as a Mirror 

Throughout the times in which it was written, poetry has always been a reflection of its era. From the ancient oral epics of Homer to the modern sonnets of Langston Hughes, poetry has served as a mirror for poets to comment on the social and political happenings of their day; it has been a tool to explore philosophical questions and celebrate the beauty of the natural world. For example:

Love, which is one of the most universal human experiences, has been the subject of countless poems throughout history. From the passion and longing in Shakespeare’s sonnets to the deep but laconic haikus of Basho, poetry functions best as a mirror to the fullness of love, divulging its joys and ecstasies to its sorrows and heartaches.

Another inevitable aspect of being is loss—and poems have been powerful vehicles to express the weight of grief and the tragedy of mourning. From the cryptic bluntness of Sylvia Plath to the lamentations of Poe, poets have written about the bleakness and the exaltations of loss.

While there is much tragedy in life, there is also plenty to celebrate. From the simple joy of waking up next to your lover to the waves of relief felt when one experiences success, from the happiness of being in the company of friends to the bliss of making good art, poetry works as a clear mirror to the ecstasy of being human.

A complex emotion that poets have dissected and remade, remolded, and revivified for millennia is sorrow. This is a very intricate emotion because it can arise from a multitude of factors, yet no matter where it comes from, it cannot be doubted that sorrow becomes a great weight–and poets have explored its depths through their verses, offering insight and remedy, from the musings of Gibran to the preciseness of Shihab Nye.

Life Described in Rhyme and Verse 

Poetry continues to be a vital art form today, as poets continue to explore the human experience in new and innovative ways. It is more than just a form of entertainment; it is a way of making sense of the world around us and connecting with our fellow human beings.

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