Friday, March 15, 2013

Read poetry

I seldom read or write poems. I used to read and write poetry in elementary and high school. In high school, I had to memorize some poems for cadet training. But I just consider poetry as prose in stanza form. Just imagine a story or any subject. Write about it in stanza form. Match the number of syllables to the required form. Make the ends of the lines rhyme. Voila, you have instant poetry.

I would imagine writing poetry is like making a pleading. You have so many requirements on the form that sometimes you forget that you have to make the substance stand out. I prefer prose to poetry because you can be direct, which I like. You can also use figures of speech in prose, so your prose could be beautiful and imaginative too.

But I'm writing about poetry because of what our tax professor said: "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die." That sounds familiar to me, but I did not know where it came from. Then I saw a post from my classmate that the line came from Alfred Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade. So I started reading the poem. Then I started crying.

Soldiers sacrifice their lives, but for what purpose? We use words like honor, nationalism, and patriotism. But I say the purpose is greed. You want to conquer land beyond what you need. You want to control the seas beyond your boundaries. You want to kill people not because they are a danger to you, but because they harm your interests. You are greedy, and you're only using beautiful words to hide it. It was amazing that I could think this way just from reading a single poem.

Then I remembered that M, the spy chief in Skyfall, recited poetry while she was in parliament. The poem she recited was from Tennyson's Ulysses. Now I know Ulysses ever since I was in elementary and high school because I read Greek mythology. He was a king of Ithaca who took part in the Trojan War for ten years. But the gods became mad at him and it took him ten years to return home. The last lines give me hope that while I may not be physically strong like a soldier, I have a strong will. Though I may sometimes fail in what I do, I can always strive, do better, and not surrender to evil.

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