Ideas

The most important element of any poem is not its structure, rhyme, meter, line or language. It's the idea. That word does not mean content or topic. You can write about a tree just for the sake of writing about a tree and end up with doggerel, a nonsense poem that does not enlighten or entertain anyone. Poems that lack ideas merely state the obvious —they bore us. Ones that contain ideas, however, unify our thoughts or feelings. They shape how we perceive the world and excite us with images of beauty or moments of truth. Since ancient times, poets have been known more for their ideas than for the words they used to convey them.

So we'll begin with ways to recognize and generate ideas. Then we'll discuss ways to record them for future use. Once you have developed these skills, you'll be able to appreciate the various genres of verse —love, nature and war poetry (to name a few) —in the chapters that follow. You'll have new insights about the world around you and will be able to add your voice to the human chorus called poetry.

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