Poetry And Empathy

So it has been a while since I last read any romantic poetry, it’s not usually the sort of thing I enjoy. I find it can be a bit too maudlin for my tastes, a bit too emotional. That’s not to say I don’t like or appreciate emotions, just that having something solely focused on emotion can often be boring or alienating. I need some sort of narrative, a context that will help me understand why the emotion is happening. I can’t just read a poem about someone being sad and connect to them immediately, I need some sort of explanation as to why they are sad.

That’s one of the reasons I liked Lyrical Ballads. It offered some background information on each of the characters introduced, and made them seem plausible. It was easier to empathize with their trial and tribulations after knowing some things about them. One of the best examples of this (in my opinion) is we are six, which is so much more powerful knowing the context and where the characters are coming from.

I definitely need some information about the characters in order to empathize with them, but how about you guys? Did you like the background information, and how each poem featured distinct “characters,” or did that take away from the overall emotional impact of the poems?

edit: i forgot to tag this!!! jeez i am bad at using this blog

One thought on “Poetry And Empathy

  1. For my part, I agree with you. When poetry is too abstract, too general, too pulled away from particular contexts and persons I have a harder time connecting with it. It’s interesting that both you and Danielle gravitated towards the same poem (she wrote about it in her blog too): though she was focusing in part on the simplicity of the language of these poems, but also talked about how that poem seemed very real. And what you’re saying is similar, I think–it gives us a picture of a character with a fair bit of background information, and this can add to its appearing like a real life situation.

    I hadn’t really thought before reading your post about how many of the poems focus on particular characters and flesh them out a fair bit. A few are more general, like “The Dungeon” or “Lines Written in Early Spring,” but most are about specific characters. I, too, enjoyed many of these poems, and I wonder if this focus on characters and making them like real people, helping us to connect with them, is part of why that’s the case.

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