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Poetry is a genre of English Literature having rhythmic and aesthetic qualities of language like meter, sound, symbolism to evoke meanings. It is different from the other three main genres in the context that it hides the meaning while the other three articulate the ideas.
Since the classical time, poetry has remained a popular genre of different kinds of literature. A number of religious scripts like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Qur’an etc are also in the form of poetry.
The poetry has been used by the poets for evoking emotional responses, expressing love, fear, optimism, appreciation, sufferings criticism, suggestions, humour and whatnot. Thus a poem can be written on any topic, theme, idea etc.
Despite the diversity of themes and ideas, the majority of the poetic compositions do articulate one’s unrealized aspirations amidst of pain, suffering, and disharmony as can be seen in my discussions below.
As already said, a poet usually hides the meaning in the verses. Hence a poem can have different interpretations of the words. It can also evoke emotional responses. Using ambiguity, symbolism, irony and other similar devices, a poet tries to hide the real meaning thus leaving it open to multiple interpretations.
We can find the expression of unrealized hope and aspiration in the poetry of the famous poets like John Milton, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Arnold, Keats, Blake etc
Poetry Expressing Feelings and Emotions
John Milton, one of the renowned poets of Renaissance age wrote a number of thought-provoking poems that express his hope and aspiration. e.g. in his poem On His Blindness, Milton begins his poem by describing his sufferings.
When I Consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this world and wide
The word ‘When’ here carries a hidden pain. The poet has lost his eyesight and being blind, he thinks about the past when he used to ‘serve God’ by writing poetry, a talent given by God to him. However, now he is blind and cannot use this talent. Thus the lines evoke sorrowful emotions.
But as the poem develops, the poet’s aspirations and hopes become dominant over the negative thoughts of pain and suffering. He says, “who best bear his mild yoke, they serve Him best”.
The phrase depicts he believes that he is serving God just by bearing his blindness. Similarly, in the other famous poem of John Milton Paradise Lost, Satan says to his fellows,
All is not lost, th’ unconquerable will and study of revenge, immortal hate
and the courage never to submit to yield. And what is else not to be overcome?
Satan is expelled from Heaven and is in Pandemonium now along with all those who revolted against God. Satan finding his fellows in sorrow says these words.
Though the story is related to Biblical myths yet there lies a hidden meaning, an aspiration and a hope in it. Milton belonged to a transitional period full of turmoil.
The common man at that was a victim of all the sufferings. Hence Satan, in this perspective can be assumed to be the common man who is the victim of all types of tortures and quests for justice.
Though it is quite impossible for him to defeat the monopoly, yet he has an unconquerable will, hates against justice, courage etc. Milton thus tries to evoke the unrealized hope among the suffering masses.
In Romantic poetry too, we come across a number of such poets who have used poetry to express their hope. The poem Happy Insensibility by Keats in which the poet uses visual images, auditory images as well as human emotions to articulate the sufferings as an integral part of everything.
In a drear-nighted December
Too happy happy Tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity.
The poet tells how every beautiful thing has a phase of decline or suffering and thus one should learn to celebrate this ugliness of suffering insensibly.
Wordsworth, another Romantic poet, being tired of modernity, too articulated his hope and desire in a number of his poetic compositions. Here is a line from The World is Too Much With Us,
The world is too much with us; late and soon
The world here probably means the industrialized cities in which the people worked like slaves. They were too busy in their work to seek happiness and the poet considers this lifestyle full of suffering and disharmony. In the end, he articulates his hope as follows,
Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
He desires to become a pagan so that he may be able to worship the ancient Gods which accord- ing to him was a part of nature. Thus he wants to feel the beauty of nature which according to him is the ultimate source of real joy, ecstasy, and eternal peace.
Moving towards Victorian Age, which was an age of logic and reasoning and in which the concept of divine and divinity lost in importance, a number of poets come up to express the disharmony created and appreciated religion as the uniting force, like in these lines of Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold,
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath.
Here, the poet expresses his concern over the diminishing of the importance of religion. The Sea of Faith refers to the religion and belief that united the whole of mankind.
According to the poet, due to the development of science and technology, people started questioning God and divinity that resulted in conflicting ideas.
All this made gave rise to melancholy, suffering, emptiness and withdrawing roars i.e. war of thoughts resulting in chaos. Except his beloved, everything in the world in a source of suffering and pain.
In modern poetry, Yeats has vividly expressed their concern over the hypocrisy of the world and his hope that the Second Coming of Jesus is near.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
the Second Coming is at hand
The poem starts with a description of chaos in the world. And in the middle, he articulates his aspiration that Jesus is about to come. This is the hope that relieves him as well as the humanity from the chaos and suffering. Next, I take Indian poetry. Rabindranath Tagore in his poem Where the Mind is Without Fear says,
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
It is a thought-provoking poem composed during the time when India was under the clutches of British Rule and freedom was like day-dreaming. The poet aspires to be in a world where fear has no place and knowledge is free for everybody.
There are unity and fraternity among the people and no discrimination.This desire for the hope is also in American poems like Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan.
How many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The poem was written during a time of chaos in America. There were mass killings and murders everywhere. The sky, as the symbol of freedom, is the desire of the poet.
Being fed up with all these things, he tries to fill in the hearts of people to fight against suffering which they haven’t realized yet. In the final lines, he says that the answer to all their sufferings in hidden in the sky, The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind
Thus we see articulations of aspirations in the compositions of all the famous poets. In the next section, I describe, how this statement cannot be absolutely agreed or disagreed with.
From the discussion above, I conclude that “Poetic Compositions are Articulations of Unrealised Aspirations of Human Kind in the Midst of Pain, Suffering, and Disharmony” or expresses feelings and emotions