When I was in eighth grade, I wrote a poem called “Many Paths Wander In My Mind,” and they still do to this day. Sometimes I get lost for days! As I reminisce about that poem I cannot help but remember what I felt when I wrote it. I felt that I was imbued with an artistic talent, and that somehow, I, (name removed for privacy), was the muse, the creative genius which mankind had been waiting for all these thousands of years. I felt that I was creating… something wonderful. And it felt liberating. The innocence of youth.

Introduction as a personal narrative is often quite engaging.  This first half of this essay is very good.  See my comments about the second half.   —Miss McCulla

I had always liked poetry; but, on that day, I fell in love with poetry.

So, how does a parent or teacher justify teaching poetry to students who haven’t had an experience like mine? How do we get them to love it, and furthermore, should we even try? Why do we learn to read, understand, and even (dare I say it?) write poetry? So many of my students ask me the inevitable questions, “Why are you teaching poetry?  How does that help me get a job? How does that help me write a great essay for the standardized state tests? How does this make me a better reader?”

These are good questions and valid; and I hope my students ask! I’ve got concrete and solid answers.  And that’s because, interestingly enough, students already understand poetry. Consider this: Students love music because they intuitively feel the rhythm, the ebb and flow of iambic pentameter, they hear alliteration,  understand references, and even have emotional responses to it.  Poetry is the same. The stumbling blocks to students’ appreciation are  new vocabulary, historical time periods, and figurative versus literal language. Sometimes problems with mechanics or punctuation is confusing, but once these are understood, the poem makes some sense to the student. That is to say, they sense the meaning of the poem.

The essay breaks down right here.  The tone changes completely.  And the writer strays from his thesis: Students sense the meaning of poetry.    –Miss McCulla   

Poetry is able to convey more meaning than the words alone hold. A poet creates meaning and emotion for the reader with an incredible economy of words.  No word is superfluous.  And these same words are  constructed on the page to give each word added value.

This next paragraph is incoherent.  Consider the first sentence: What is “man’s inherent nature”? And how exactly is poetry “the greatest indicator” of its constancy?

What source told you that cavemen and women had loving relationships?  They didn’t tell us through their poetry!

And the idea that all humans have the same range and depth of emotions isn’t even true in one single family!

Finally, are you saying that poetry is ushering in a global society?  Absurd.                                                                 –Miss McCulla

Poetry is the greatest indicator that man’s inherent nature does not change over time. Love has not changed since the first caveman (and woman) sought to protect his family from danger. Poetry is the lens which shows the reader that all humans share the same range and depth of emotion regardless of country, race, gender or time period. Poetry is a bridge to other cultures, historical periods, and individuals because it illuminates our similarities and allows for the idea that we are all one people. A global society.

Students:  An OUTLINE could have prevented this essay’s lack of organization.  He talked about -Poetry and Words- in paragraph 5.  The following paragraph returns to that subject.                                                    —Miss McCulla

Poetry exposes the reader to words that have been used in their most precise and perfect positioning with other words. When a poet chooses a word (which may have taken one whole day… or more), they have chosen from literally hundreds of words with similar meaning. It is this exactness of word choice that allows the author to exactly represent what they mean. This in turn, allows the reader to see how “shades of gray” can exist within the written word. It allows the reader to experience the entire spectrum of “shades of gray” which exist in the human experience, and as we all know, the world, and our experience of it, is certainly not black and white.


Miss McCulla is a retired English teacher of 32 years.  She has Mastery of the grammar and mechanics of English, and has taught expository, fiction writing, and rhetorical skills to hundreds of students and aspiring writers throughout her career.  She has written/edited/self-published five books, and currently manages and edits a writing blog called The Underground Tutor where she gathers essays, articles, entries, papers, manuals, profiles, criticisms, analyses of literature, just like those asked of students and writers in the university and publishing houses.

March 15, 2019   54   mary    Opinion Essay, Poetry  
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