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What makes a good poem?

According to R.Pettinger, several things make a good poem; for instance it must be well written with a concise and accurate use of language. It is basically the use of words to express a feeling or an idea. Prose seeks to explain, poetry merely states.

Good poetry is not an argument but convinces the reader through its own power. It should be able to lift the reader out of the ordinary and give glimpses of a more illumining reality. It should express a point and convince the reader to its message. Writers like R.Pettinger and W. Blake argue that a good poem should have powerful lines that play with the imagination of the reader. Great poems engage the heart of the reader, they stick in the mind and are songs to the lips, it should be more than mere intellectual cleverness. Even the great Nelson Mandela memorized the words of William Ernest Henley in one of the greatest poems of the world called 'Invictus.'

"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."

William Ernest Henley

Good poetry can offer hope from seemingly painful experience. Many great poets deal with our fear of death there poetry offers an alternative view to the pessimism that can pervade man. So to say it heals, it inspires and it gives a challenge.

What most people forget nowadays is that poetry should be from the heart. Good poetry can never be faked. Going commercial to please crowds and audiences is killing the true soul of poetry.

Another thing with good poetry is that we can feel an identification with and relate with it.

"Ukiskia mtoto anaimba wimbo yote ya Eminem
Na hajui second stanza ya National Anthem
Jua kuna Problem"
Teardrops

Good poems act as links, there seems to be no separation between the poet and the reader. The reader himself can feel a oneness with the poet.

"A night in the rain, to wipe away the tears of this broken heart" Emma Omondi

© Namatsi Lukoye

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