A writer should only write about things he is well informed on. That's why I write my articles for the opinions column. Whatever else I may, or may not be, I am an expert on what my own opinions are, so that's what you get from me. I don't expect anyone to become educated reading my stuff, but I hope to give you something to think about once in a while.
Many of you may not be interested in poetry. It comes in such a variety of ways, I'm sure that like it or not, most people at one time or another have tried their hand at it. I recall that I wrote my first little verse at age 7. I took such a ribbing from my siblings for it that I didn't try again until my early teens. It got to be a habit, and I have been writing verses now all my life. It can be fun, but I do have some opinions. Perhaps I should humbly insert an IMO (in my opinion) at times to remind those I may upset that I realize it is only my opinion
There are basically two kinds of poetry. There is free verse, and there are poems that have consistent rhyme and rhythm, you know like, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star How I wonder what you are." It seems today, rhyming poetry with melodic rhythm is considered passe. Myself I'm an old guy who grew up before such modern fads came to be. With a few exceptions most of the poetry we were exposed to in my greener years was done that way, which also most of the classic poets of the day were Now slow down, I didn't say all.
I grant there has been some beautiful poetry written in free verse, but it requires an unusual command of the language, and expression, plus a meaningful topic to do it successfully IMO. Simply 14 lines that are too short to reach the confines of the margins do not necessarily make a sonnet.
Of course poems with rhyme and rhythm can be quite challenging. To say something specific, and be limited to a given number of syllables for the sake of smooth rhythm, to say nothing of a rhyme at the end, can force one to change the subject. That's why I often feel that my verses sometimes write themselves. One must go where the muse guides one. In defense of rhyme and rhythm, I put on the front piece of a pamphlet of poems I wrote:
"A poem is a song,
Where the words all belong,
On the beat, to complete every measure,
And to add one more word'll
Cause cadence to curdle,
And the stumble's no longer a treasure."
IMO, one of the marks of modern society is undeniably its abandonment of beauty, for the free expression of the uninhibited, unregulated, expression of whatever blows one's skirt up. Much of modern pop music never ends with a resolving chord, but merely trails off into nothingness. Artists on canvas leave one to puzzle out just what it may have possibly been that he was trying to lead us to, perhaps, panic, confusion or what? Sculptures busy themselves more with obscure meaning than beauty, and we applaud the beauty of their obscurity. It is even fashionable for beautiful women to wear their hair in disarray, or otherwise confusing fashion. The attempt seems not to display beauty, but individualism. They promote a sultry, sexual lure, while disparaging any male response, thus rewarding themselves with a superiority to materialism. Nice try.
At the same time society is exerting pressure for conformity in so many ways with its PC and other mob rule insistencies. I guess I've outlived my allotted time. I am left to the confusion of the obsolete. I often wonder what Benjamin Franklin would think of our modern world. I'm sure one of our problems is too much time for frivolity and uselessness. We no longer have to chop wood to keep warm in winter, and we have thusly become like spoiled children in our reckless abandonment of responsibility, both to ourselves and our fellow humans. May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org