What Constitutes a Tired Old Simile or Metaphor in Poetry

In a Youtube video, Zoe B discusses what makes a poem good. She argues that poetry does not need to be complex (indeed she states that it is being taught incorrectly in many schools). Somewhat controversially she labels Eliot as an “ass” for his poem “The Wasteland” which, she argues was deliberately made difficult in order that only academics could comprehend it’s meaning. Zoe does, however quote with approval the final stanza of Eliot’s “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock” later on in her discussion of poetics.

This is an interesting and in places provocative view as to what constitutes poetry. Whilst I agree with some of Zoe’s points, I take issue with other aspects of her argument. For example she contends that comparing love to fire is old hat and that tired old comparisons of this nature should be avoided. In my opinion there is nothing new under the sun. It has, to some extent at least all been said before. That does not, however mean that writers of poetry should avoid comparing love to a fire or their lover to a flower. It is all about how language is used and the word fire or love are employed in the poem in question.

I must at this point declare an interest. One of my earlier poems is entitled “Fire” and runs as follows:

“I have felt the fire’s power;
It kindles brightly and sinks within the hour.
I have watched the embers dying fast;
Looked into the future and gazed into the past.
I have raked the ashes cold, felt the bleakness in my soul”.

Whether the above poem is any good is, of course a matter of opinion, which will depend on the views of those who read it. However if one deems it to be a mediocre or bad poem, this does not imply that any modern poems which draw a comparison between love, passion and fire are, automatically poor or mediocre compositions. It is, as I say above, all about how the use of the metaphor and/or simile is utilised in a given poem.

You can watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arE2yyQe1PY

“Fire” first appeared in Dalliance; a Collection of Poetry and Prose. It can also be found in my Selected Poems, which is available here, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/.

You can find a video of me reading my poem Fire here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtr7wJgnkqo

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