On 30 May, the blog Interesting Literature published a post entitled “10 of the most accessible poets in English Literature”, https://wp.me/p2WHCx-5Bm.
Amongst the poets mentioned are some of my own favourites, including Philip Larkin, the American poet Emily Dickinson, and Thomas Hardy.
Below are links to a selection of my favourite poems by Larkin, Dickinson and Hardy.
“Aubade” by Philip Larkin. Read by the poet himself, Aubade is a powerful examination of the poet’s fear of death, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDr_SRhJs80
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson. Unlike Larkin in “Aubade” Dickinson does not see death as a threat which does, I think stem from her deep religious faith, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am5O8_iCpmg
“The Darkling Thrush” by Thomas Hardy. Hardy’s bleak mood is contrasted with that of the joyful singing of an “aged thrush”, which causes the poet to ponder on how the bird can see “some blessed hope whereof he knew and I was unaware”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGY3DZH85O8
Should poetry be accessible? Certainly any poet who deliberately writes to be inaccessible would be a very strange creature indeed. However what is accessible to one is not accessible to another as, to some extent accessibility is in the eye of the beholder.
Poets also need to be cognisant of the danger of patronising (talking down to) their readers. Whilst working on my forthcoming poetry collection, I considered the need for footnotes. This question arose as in 4 instances I reference the work of long dead poets. My initial view was that anyone with access to Google (please note that other search engines are available)! could easily ascertain details of the poem/poet mentioned, meaning that footnotes where unnecessary. However, I came to the conclusion that adding a few footnotes was preferable to having my readers cursing me for assuming that they had knowledge not possessed by them. Consequently several footnotes appear at the end of my poems.
As to whether my work is accessible? only my readers can answer that question. And different readers will, I believe answer it differently.
(You can find my “Selected Poems” here, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/. My forthcoming collection will, I hope be available in late June/early July).
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson is one of my favourite poems, as well! Emily wrote about serious topics with appealing simplicity; I delight in finding subtle hints of her style in your piquant poetry, Kevin! Thank you for discussing the importance of accessibility – as a curious reader, I always appreciate additional information about the work that I am scrutinizing. It is very thoughtful of you to include footnotes in your forthcoming collection!
Best Wishes, Veronica.
I was interested and pleased to find that you also are a fan of Dickinson’s poetry, Veronica. And I’m flattered that you find subtle hints of Dickinson in my own work!
Its good to know that you approve of my decision to include a few footnotes in my forthcoming collection. I always appreciate you taking the time to comment.
Best wishes, Kevin