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By John Whitworth

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Extra resources for Writing Poetry

Sample text

I suppose it is because poetry is made up of words, and ideas are usually expressed in words, that we imagine that great poetry and great intellect are somehow connected. Dante’s Christian conception of God, says TS Eliot, is superior to Shakespeare’s ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods;/They kill us for their sport’. But if Dante’s philosophy is better, it does not follow that his poetry is better. Of course we do not actually know Shakespeare’s own thoughts about God; we only know those of his characters.

Make a poem in a similar way. Similar, not the same. 29 a01Poetry 24/2/06 1:18 pm Page 30 Words, Words, Words Poems are not made out of ideas; they are made out of words – the truest saying about poetry and the most useful to know. Many bad poems have come about because the writer did not know it. Great thoughts A poet does not need great thoughts. Some of us have very silly ideas: Yeats believed in ectoplasm, MacDiarmid in Stalinism. I suppose it is because poetry is made up of words, and ideas are usually expressed in words, that we imagine that great poetry and great intellect are somehow connected.

The bishop’s lying in the library, A boomerang embedded in his forehead. Superintendent Grouting, fat and florid, Reluctantly calls in the CID. They’re baffled too. A classic mystery – Murder most foul and Passion very torrid. The Rural Dean discovered in flagrante With Lord ‘Boy’ Foreskin, Nanny peddling dope, A Blackshirt rally Friday at the vicar’s, Bunty Persimmons prostrate in her knickers Before an image of the Anti-Pope. Nothing escapes the sleuthing dilettante. Metaphor and simile So when you say a thing is like another thing, then that is a simile.

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