J. Evans Pritchard will tell you that to understand a good poem – you have to consider the elements within it. You’ll need to start with the importance of the topic discussed and then consider how artfully it has been rendered. These, in short, are the defining factors in whether or not the poem is a success.
Being a student of “The Captain”, I feel that poetry (like life) is hardly something to be broken down and understood but rather swam in like a warm sunrise on the horizon.
Still, we are too concerned with walking on water. We have little capacity for swimming. Most of us, in the absence of the sunrise, would rather attempt to understand and predict it than be caught up in the memory of it.
So we dissect our lives. We consider the rhythm, rhyme and meter. We look for the most artistic metaphors. We congratulate those who have lived poetry of importance, especially if it was done with an artful master-stroke.
We take what could be our greatest muses and position them like pieces of a formula; thinking that if we can interpret the necessary bits of prose that we’ll be able to write successful poetry of our own.
But life (like poetry) is not un-riddled by scientific formula. It glides from one line to the next, bouncing on consonants and rolling on vowels. The best of life is not understood but felt.
Our lives spent seeking out correct theology or wise philosophy are utterly wasted. An understanding of the mechanics of the universe cannot do for us what we would wish. They’ll not gather rosebuds for us. They’ll not put a lover’s hand in ours. They’ll not heal our wounds or assure us that our lives have meaning.
Our understanding will never be able to measure the depth of our feeling and will never lead to beautiful poetry or marvelous lives.
We need not waste our time with “how’s” or “why’s” but consider only this.
“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”