Richard J. Severson
In their famous definition, Wordsworth and Coleridge said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotion. To cry out in sorrow is an expression of emotion that needs no further interpretation. Its meaning is raw and transparent; words are not necessary to add any further understanding. It is that sort of experience that poetry emulates through the use of words alone. It is the conviction of every poet that the finality inherent in our most ancient forms of communication can be reproduced in the most carefully chosen words (as if by magic). In that instance, no further translation or interpretation will ever be required to capture the intended meaning. Using words to imitate the more authentic language of the body is an ideal art form, and it’s one that our species has been working to perfect for at least thirty-five thousand years. Words are an invention of culture, not a biological adaptation. That means we must use them as tools to further our own understanding of the world. In our cognitive evolution, the verbal expression of the mind’s inner thoughts and feelings has been an ongoing work of poetry.