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Poetry's First Line

Sometimes the beauty is easy. Sometimes you don't have to try at all. Sometimes you can hear the wind blow in a handshake. Sometimes there's poetry written right on the bathroom wall.” - Ani DiFranco

Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.” - Aristotle

Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.” - Thomas Babington Macaulay

A few weeks back, I mumbled something about wanting to try my hand at writing poetry. Now, I know absolutely nothing about writing poetry. I don't know what separates a rhythm from an iambic pentameter. I don't know what rules, conventions, and fundamentals I'm supposed to know before taking my first tentative foray into the unknown abyss (OK, this is getting a bit heavy---sorry about that!).

Anyway, last night I started to give it some thought. I've been wanting to try and find words to describe what I go through sometimes when I'm swinging from a depression cycle to a manic cycle. So far I feel frustrated in trying to communicate to others what it's like not to have a baseline to your life anymore, how totally discombobulating that is (I think that word's cool!).

I started thinking of images, metaphors and similes for moving from dark to light, and the dawn was the obvious first comparison I thought of. But strangely enough, the words that came to my mind were:

"Out of the evil, untainted light."

Now, I'm not sure why 'evil' was the first connection I made as reference for a depressed state, but it was. I wanted to change it though, because it wasn't what I was after, so 'evil' became simply 'darkness'.

"Out of the darkness, untainted light."

...and that was when I had my revelation about poetry. Not only does each word carry so much more meaning and set so much more context, but a single word can turn a dark and despairing cloak into one of hope and opportunity.

At that moment, I saw darkness as a positive influence in my life. The depresssion periods are as much of me now as the manic periods are, and deserve the same attention and respect. In other words, I deserve attention and respect from myself, no matter what level my serotonin is at. Instead of spending my 'good' days fearing the arrival of the next bad one, and the 'bad' days bemoaning the fact that it's not a good one, I need to recognize that "This too shall change".

Clearly, I'm not past the forgiveness and "Why me?" stage of the grieving process for my being bipolar. I feel victimized, I feel violated. I want my body back.

Writing those words last night felt like a breakthrough in understanding something I hadn't grasped before.

That's what poetry does.


Peace is right. This is beautiful. Beyond happy for you for the breakthrough...

The beauty of poetry is that you don't HAVE to follow any set rules. I love how you point out that each word can carry meaning -- that's so cool, isn't it? (I think it is... :)) And by the way, "discombobulating" is a GREAT word!

Congrats on the breakthrough. Can't say it gets easier, but I can say it becomes more meaningful. Go all the way...


I am glad that you came to a partial understanding of what is going on. Most poetry that I have read using the rules has been to me, boring and not useful, but from the heart, wheather rhyming or not, is the essence.

Interesting how 2 words that mean the same, so many other times, held such different meanings this time. I usually don't understand poetry..must be from ditching too many classes.

I have written a ton of poetry in my life. I've rarely wrote anything happy as for me, writing poetry was a way to vent the sad and bad feelings that were going on at the time. In my case, my stuff is about love's lost, etc. But it has a similar effect as journaling, it was always very theraputic for me.

And it's true, that unless you plan to be some famous poet, you really don't have any rules to abide by. Write what's in your heart. It doesn't need to rhyme either.

I can see why evil would have come to mind. It's not a personal description of you, but of the thing that overcomes you and brings you down.

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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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