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About the Poetry Archive...

At the beginning of each week, a new “Poem of the Week” is selected, and last week’s poem is moved into the archive. Only great poetry appears here... which leads to the question:

What IS Great Poetry?

by Joseph K. Horn © 2023
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For poetry to be great, three things are required.

  1. The poet must have an acute awareness of experience. For this to be true, the poet must be mentally awake and paying attention to experience and its emotional impact. No dullard ever wrote great poetry.

  2. The poet must have an imagination so fanciful that it creates relationships between experiences, brand new relationships that nobody else ever thought of. In other words, the poet must be able to create new metaphors. A poem without new metaphors is not a great poem. A poem without any metaphors is not poetry at all, regardless of its meaning, sound, structure, or emotional impact.

  3. The poet must be able to put those metaphors into words that evoke in the attentive reader the precise emotional impact intended by the poet. This is done by choosing words, sounds, and rhythms as carefully as do writers of great song lyrics, strategically calculating the emotional effect of every word, phrase, sound, rhythm, pause, and the arrangement of all of these. These things are deeply studied by every great poet and lyricist.

A great poem can only be appreciated by readers who understand the poem’s metaphors. However, the greatness of a poem does not depend on the reader. A great poem is great even if it is never read by anyone other than the poet, just as a beautiful flower is beautiful even if it is never seen by anyone other than its Creator.

Each of the selections in this archive of great poetry has been chosen because its poet achieved all three of these requirements in different and memorable ways. Like beautiful flowers, these poems deserve to be seen and loved for their beauty. Unlike flowers, the beauty of poetry endures. I hope you enjoy reading these great poems for many years.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

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