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What Is The Point?

What Is The Point?

There is no doubt that poetry has a unique ability to move the human spirit; an ability shared only with music and far more so than even the greatest prose, however impassioned. It is, therefore, no surprise that the greatest composers have felt impelled to set poetry to music; and whilst the lyrics of much popular music are repetitive and banal, the works that will survive are those where the words tell a story or express deeply felt emotion.

Ever since the human species evolved the ability to speak poetry has been a vital part of the human experience. Even before the invention of writing, the oral tradition was an essential part of the culture of the tribe, whether to pass on the founding myths of the group and record the deeds of great heroes, or to pass on hard earned knowledge from one generation to the next. Being able to make a permanent record of human speech meant that poetry could reach a far larger audience and could be transmitted over vast distances of space and time. This preserved for posterity poetry became the property, not just of the few, but of all future generations. Through poetry, therefore, we are able to read the minds of our ancestors and understand their culture just as effectively as we can induce facts from their physical artefacts. Pieces of pottery or carved wood or stone may tell us how people lived in the past but poetry enables us to know who they were and what was important to them. It is the bridge that links the entire species over millennia in one common humanity.

No human culture has been without its poetry. Not only had it been used to tell stories, but even more so to describe how people feel. So we are blessed today with the myths of creation, ancient stories of the gods, and tales of great battles and mighty heroes; and is still the way we choose to record the great events of our day. Through poetry, we can share in the common human wonder at the beauty of the world, the heartache of romantic love and delight in the beloved,  and the yearning for spiritual enlightenment. Human beings have used poetry to record the key events of human life — the birth of a child, the flowering of love and its expression in the bond between two people, and to celebrate the passing of someone who has led a full and fulfilled life. It can be an expression of pain but also the means of consolation, and the route to healing and wholeness.

The question which perplexes me, however, is whether poetry has an even more important role in human affairs, as a means by which we may bring about change. A role that goes beyond the enrichment of life, but the most effective way to right wrongs and create a better future for all people. Some may be uncomfortable with the use of poetry as a  way to protest against injustice, to cry out against the monstrosity of war, or the inhumanity of slavery and exploitation of the weak by the strong. But it is my firmly held conviction that poetry is the greatest weapon we have against the evils of the world and the monstrous way in which some use power or money to destroy hope and build themselves up at the expense of others. Pictures may move or horrify us, resolutions and laws may be passed, but it is only through poetry that visionaries and prophets can light a fire of anger and hope, and inspire people of goodwill to rise up against all that diminishes any individual life or threatens the future of the planet and all who live on it.

Much of my life has been spent in the fight against disease, but now that I am approaching my closing years, all that I have left are the words that I speak. So whether it upsets or offends others, I feel it is my duty to use the time that is left to me to employ my limited poetic gifts to sound a warning against all that degrades or destroys individuals, tribes or nations. The time for pretty words is passing, and for me, now is the time for passion and exhortation, and if my words are ugly or angry that is a price I am willing to pay if in any way I can help bring in the millennium of peace and accord, equality  of opportunity and the hallowing of every human life.



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Copyright © 2021 by Keith Paver

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The compositions and contents herein are not to be copied, reproduced, printed, published, posted, displayed, incorporated, stored in or scanned into a retrieval system or database, transmitted, broadcast, bartered or sold, in whole or in part without the prior express written permission of the sole author. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited and is an infringement of National and International Copyright laws.

All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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