There exists two types of poets, I have found. There are those who express themselves with poetry and those who can only express themselves with poetry.
I use to think myself a poor poet for I didn’t mull and sort for the perfect words, or to compose a poised phrase – to make lightning from a lightning bug, as Twain declared. I didn’t purposefully generalize events, exaggerate emotions or speak vaguely. I didn’t infuse deep meaning into mundane occurrences and did not endeavor to confuse or perturb in the name of profundity.
I like writing poetry for it states exactly what is seen, only from an unused perspective – like the tipping of a mirror towards the light. I like writing it for poetry isolates emotions by stripping one from the other to be examined more thoroughly, less enigmatically. I like poetry as it simplifies an idea, a thought, a pause in time, and extracts it from the senses to be placed under glass. There, it can be revisited. There, a fleeting moment becomes eternal.
These may be the ways of the first poet. I can tell you the autumn is beautiful. Or I can show you the autumn and have you feel the beauty.
Sometimes, though, a poet feels the truth lies too coldly like naked flesh, or too still like a sleeping body and must be warmed, covered and wrapped in verse. Emotion, the vulnerable thing that it is, must be woven intricately like fibers through ambiguous words and interpretively threaded through cryptic needles. They like writing poetry for it takes prosaic thought and banal insecurity and ensconces it tightly, as an uncrackable code. They like poetry as it dilutes entity, affections and vehemence into insidious puzzles or elusive dreams. There, poetic honesty becomes esoteric secrets. There, it can hide in the broad light of day.
The difference between the first poet and the second poet may not really be a large matter at all – it’s only the difference between actuality and illusion. Reality and idea. Act and motion. Creation and conception. Existence and essence. And between the two poets falls the shadow.
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. – Mark Twain
Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow. Between the conception and the creation, between the emotion and the response, falls the shadow. Between the desire and the spasm, between the potency and the existence, between the essence and the descent, falls the shadow. – T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men