Edgar Allan Poe provides this lovely line from his poem Tamerlane:
I have no words—alas!—to tell
The loveliness of loving well
I read this passage the other night, while I stood alone, left to my devices and imaginings. Its irony and beauty struck me. How true and ironic it is that we writers have no words to express our truest passion.
We sit at our keyboards and tap out line after line. Our vocabularies are exemplary, better than most, in fact. And yet, we never seem able to squeeze out that last exquisite bit of beauty we so nobly wish to share with the world.
Does anyone know how lovely it is to be able to express our emotions in the written word, in the careful crafting of worlds and cities and gathering rooms, and in the gratifying creation of fictional people? Can anyone who reads our work ever truly grasp the depth of emotion, the soul-baring range of life we strive to imbue into those white screens and onto those white pages?
Even if they can, they will still fail to grasp the utter ineptitude we feel at times.
We have the ability, the skill, the words and the wisdom to express just about every facet of human sentiment; but even the greatest among us do not have the words—alas!—to tell the loveliness in loving well the worlds in which we live, inside our own minds. And their creation is not merely our passion—it is our love affair with the unknown, with the unknowable worlds which never were.
Forgive me for waxing poetic. That is what happens when you read Poe late at night, when you stand pondering over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…
My point here is that, as many great writers and advice givers have written, it is in an author’s interest to add poetry to his or her daily reading selections.
At writingforward, Melissa Donovan shares an excellent article about the virtues of poetry, and how it helps writers enhance their writing.
Of all those who earn their living or hope to earn their living through the compilation of written words, no one agonizes more over their word-choice than poets. No one possesses a firmer grasp of the rhythm and flow of ‘narrative’ than do poets. Are you a novelist? Read Poe, or Lawrence, or Whitman or Eliot. They will teach you—in so many words—how to master the subtle art of rhythm.
(Obviously, we are not speaking of rhyme; rhyming in a novel is perhaps the truest mark of an amateur.)
Have you ever read a certain writer (Janet Fitch, Laini Taylor, for example) whose writing seems to flow? Their rhythm and cadence, their perfect selection and placement of words seem exquisitely balanced, poetic even. You can tell these authors are well-read. No doubt their reading habits are diverse and extensive.
Diversity is a wonderful thing. Diversity in your reading habits will help improve your writing—I guarantee it!
Smartblogger offers many excellent points and writing tips, including the value of reading poetry. Check it out here, if you like.