Letting a Poem Be by Shernaz Wadia SignUp
Letting a Poem Be
Shernaz Wadia Bookmark and Share

A poem’s primary function is to delight the reader and to stir his mind so that he is transported to realms that the poet too had probably not visualised.  Its splendour must be imbibed, absorbed through every sense.  It must infuse the reader with a subtle joy, a delicate perfume that titillates his olfactory sense; it must crawl under her skin so she can sense its message, its depth without cerebral scrutiny. It must flow effortlessly, silently into the reader’s soul as it poured out of the writer’s spirit so that the reader is pulled involuntarily into its vortex and is amazed at the secrets unfolding at the centre. 

Appreciating a poem at some deeper level is fine. But to break it down, dissect it piecemeal, is like dismembering a flower petal by petal, splitting open its ovary to find out how it germinated. Or like peeling off the skin of the chrysalis murdering the pupa in the process.


Intellectualism has its place in scholastic studies in literature. Esoteric and wildly abstract poems with metaphors that bewilder rather than augment the reader’s mind may need learned elucidation. Otherwise a poem should be left to a reader’s individual comprehension and imagination. Let it delight, instruct, reveal its layered nuances at repeated readings. When it consoles in sorrow and uplifts in terrifying times without having to be thrashed; when it transports a soul on its own strength and virtue, without the need for explanation, then a poem fulfills its karma.

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