When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
This poem is titled ‘‘Don’t Quit’’ by an unknown author and will provide an introduction to the first part of the discussion, ‘‘What is Poetry’’: to inspire
The foremost aim of poetry is, I feel, to inspire and instil a sense of hope in people who have lost it. It can offer a rehabilitation that can be as, or even more effective than a psychiatrist’s chair. Using the right lines of motivation and assurance, a reader may be inspired to fulfill a lost dream, reignite a lost passion or even avert themselves from suicide.
A verse doesn’t have to be as simple as the example above, however. It can offer a different type of inspiration that derives from natural more than material themes, the aim of which is expressed in a late 18th century artistic movement called Romanticism.
The Romantics believed in showing beauty of the natural world, rebelled against the rationality and intellectuality of the Enlightenment, explored the human condition and personal emotions and freed themselves from the rigid structures classicism and neoclassicism.
What makes Romantic poetry so inspirational is the way it uses natural themes that appear to jump from the canvas the lines and invokes, as William Wordsworth states in the preface to Lyrical Ballads, ‘…Spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.’ Wordsworth, along with Lord Byron, Coleridge, Pushkin, Browning, Emerson and others defined this era with prose that ignited creative imagination and opened the door to exploring our inner selves with its whole myriad of emotions and attitudes.
Away from its revolutionary and political symbolism, Romantic poetry about the beauty of nature has the power to sooth the soul with majestic, subtle images of a natural Earth that is alive. At its best, Romanticism can have almost a meditative effect on readers, removing them from the stresses and chaos of the world. It can rejuvenate and revive those that read it and make them want to start afresh.
Here is an example of Romantic poetry by John Keats. If possible, try to find a quiet space(preferably a park) and read it aloud:
- Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
- Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
- Conspiring with him how to load and bless
- With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
- To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
- And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
- To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
- With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
- And still more, later flowers for the bees,
- Until they think warm days will never cease,
- For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
- Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
- Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
- Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
- Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
- Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
- Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
- Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
- And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
- Steady thy laden head across a brook;
- Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
- Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
- Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
- Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
- While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
- And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
- Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
- Among the river sallows, borne aloft
- Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
- And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
- Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
- The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
- And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.