Poetry in Music

I love poetry, I always read poetry, I always remember poems by heart. Here’s the catch though, I consider poetry to be a solitary experience of reflection. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people start reciting poems out of the blue, just because they can. I rarely like a Facebook status with a poem in it.  I find it unnecessary. Good for you, you have a great memory, but this is making me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Never assume that just because I’m not in a quoting frenzy I have  disgraced the divine Muse In my mind, I always thought that poetry is entirely personal, that poetry should exist in a mental safe and wait. That’s just me though…

There is, however, a very special type of poetry that I share all the time: song lyrics. Come on, don’t tell me that some songs aren’t as poetic as an actual is! I have found the same thrill in a poem by Auden and in a song by The Doors. The Doors taught little teenage me that sometimes all it takes for you to feel better is a good song. It makes sense that poetry evolved into songs, that it somehow escaped the heavy pages of an anthology and is blasting loudly through our radio. I love how easily we can communicate our feelings by simply saying “I’m in a Pink Floyd mood today…”

There is a raw honesty in some songs. When the Rolling Stones sing “We all need someone we can bleed on/ And if you want it, baby you can bleed on me”, that’s love and it might be more powerful than endless lines of rhyming.

The plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face

The mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself

Grave visitations

What is it that calls to us?

Why must we pray screaming?

Why must not death be redefined?

We shut our eyes, we stretch our arms

And whirl on a pane of glass

An affixiation, a fix on anything the line of life, the limb of a tree

The hands of he and the promise that she is blessed among women.

This is not a stand-alone poem, this is Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith. Would you appreciate it more if I said that it was written by an acclaimed poet? Does the music that goes with it make it more or less beautiful? Led Zeppelin wrote poetry, The Beatles wrote poetry (yes, even The Yellow Submarine is poetry…), The Smiths wrote poetry. How about the music of today? I’ve listened to song by Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine, even Ed Sheeran that are poetry.  “I was filled with poison, but blessed with beauty and rage”. It sounds like Baudelaire, but it’s Lana…

I never understood why poetry has to be unapproachable, why it has to be so ridiculously elevated and intimidating. Not all people can understand Shakespeare, but most people understand what Cobain screams in Heart-Shaped Box. It doesn’t make you less of an intellectual if you don’t get Alexander Pope’s poetry, to tell you the truth I find Pope boring and I simply can’t relate to him. I would, however, considerer tattooing my favourite Morrissey lyric on the inside of my wrist. When people say “I don’t like poetry”, don’t believe them. They don’t know what poetry is, or they have a wrong conception of poetry. Yes, a sonnet is poetry, but that’s doesn’t mean that a song by Massive Attack isn’t poetry as well. I have found more truth in Joy Division than in Shakespeare, but that’s just me…

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2 thoughts on “Poetry in Music

  1. My friend sent me this a while ago and it makes me laugh:

    I completely agree with you though, songs can be just as poetic, and certainly more approachable. I love reading poetry, but I listen to music every single day and it can vastly effect my mood or draw on it.

    Great article! X

    Liked by 1 person

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