April is Poetry Month. What should you do about this?
Take advice from Sir Philip Sidney and “Look in thy heart and write.”
Sidney composed “An Apology for Poetry” (Defence of Poesie) in 1575, and in this essay maintains poetry combines the liveliness of history with philosophy, and this combination is more effective than either history or philosophy in inspiring readers. According to Sidney, poetry acts in a way that “awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought.”
Sidney himself was an accomplished poet who wrote a sequence of 108 English sonnets known as “Astrophil and Stella” where Astrophil is the star lover, and Stella is his star.
The first sonnet in the sequence sets the conceit; the meaning embedded in the last line (bolded):
Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show
That she (dear She) might take some pleasure of my pain:
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain;
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain:
Oft turning others’ leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sun-burn’d brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Invention’s stay,
Invention, Nature’s child, fled step-dame Study’s blows,
And others’ feet still seem’d but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite–
“Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart and write.”
Meaning? Stop thinking about writing a poem and start writing a poem. Your heart will guide your pen.
So, what to write during Poetry Month?
- Write a poem and share on a website. There are hundreds of sites. (ex: poetry.com)
- Write about your favorite poem and share the poem.
- Write about a lesson on poetry you remember.
- Write about a lesson on poetry you taught.
- Write a post for #PoetryFriday, a platform where poets and readers of poetry share their writing. Each week, a blogger is tasked with rounding up the #PoetryFriday posts around the blogosphere and hosting posts on his or her website.
As Sidney suggests, the best way to know what you think about poetry is to sit and write about poetry.
It’s Poetry Month.
Your muse is impatiently waiting.
Taking my own advice, Here is a link to my National Poetry Month poem, Canyons.