Jake's Arts One Blog

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Poetic Interpretations: Worthwhile or Pointless?

Alright, so as some of you know, I’m not a ‘huge fan’ of poetry. Although I don’t mind reading it, spending hours thinking of all the possible interpretations of a single poem seems a bit pointless to me. Even after reading Blake and Hopkins, my thoughts are still the same, if not more intense.

Personally, I feel as though every author (literature, poetry, film) puts a specific message behind all of their work, and sometimes this can also be a lack of a message. Now I’m not saying that every piece of art only has one interpretation; many books and films are subject to various dissections and often, are made with the intention of ambiguity (the ending to Birdman for instance). The reason I’m so critical of poetry, however, is because people try to find countless meanings for every single word on the page. Not just this, but people spend hours and hours picking these works apart. I’m sure the original poet is quite happy with you doing it, and I’m not trying to suggest that analyzing his/her poetry would be against their wishes. I simply want to know what the point of doing this is. Why spend so much time dissecting 200 odd words?

I’ve heard the argument that “poetry is great because everyone can get their own meaning from it”, but then doesn’t that make it meaningless? If something possesses an infinite number of meanings, then it really doesn’t have any meaning at all. Thus it seems to me that analyzing poems to such an incredible extent really only takes away from the gravity of the work; making the excessive interpreting of poetry pointless. Doesn’t it?

I’m happy to hear any (convincing) arguments to the contrary and am completely open to having my mind changed.

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