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While writing this paper, I wasnt exactly sure what to say like with most papers. As I wrote this essay, I played Adeles song on a loop and recorded myself reading Lord Byron’s poem. I listened to the two back to back and closed my eyes before I started writing. I focused on the words, what they said and what I envisioned and then I wrote. While writing this paper I did find it difficult to emphasize where I feel poetry and music overlap. I think if anything it would be great to get back some feedback on how strengthen my argument. Often times I know what I want to say, but I find it difficult to share my thoughts in a succinct manner. Moving forward, I would love to write a strong story or poetry that evokes strong emotions as many of my favorite songs do.
Music and poetry-there are some who see them as overlapping styles and others who see them as complete opposites. Yet if we truly looked at the two-the way they are created, how they are inspired, or even how they are received-music and poetry don’t really seem that different from each other. They can be inspired by a great love, a terrible heartbreak, a scene in the park or a faded old memory. They can be written in complete solitude and isolation as the rest of the world moves on outside of the window. They can be written in the hustle of a coffee shop amidst the chaos of a crowd. They can be written as secrets, leaving them open for interpretation to the world. They can be written as ambiguous stories, leaving it to the world to write the ending. The inspiration behind a song or a poem may be very personal and unique, but the emotions are anything but. They are feels that everyone has felt as least in their life. Those emotions speak to us; though our situation or experience may be different the feelings could be identical. Or perhaps a song speaks to a person simply because the words are beautiful, inspirational, and paint a pretty picture. Many of us do not see a place for poetry in our lives. So many of us have a heard a song and just fallen in love with the lyrics. We don’t think that what we love is a form of poetry, when in fact it is. Poetry is about the words and about the picture they paint for the audience. Likewise, when listening to a song most people can imagine a scene, like the one being described and sometimes, they can connect to it.
The Oxford Dictionary defines poetry as such, “an art form in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction (sometimes involving rhyme), rhythm, and imagery.” The Oxford Dictionary also defines music as such, “the art form of vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, rhythm, and expression of emotion.” Although the definitions are a little different, they overlap. Both focus on the expression of emotion, the rhythm of words, and above all see music and poetry as an art form. There are many modern day songs that are comparable to some of better known poems of the 20th century. Although the language or syntax might be a bit different between a song and poem, the sentiment behind the words whether the piece is modern or not is very much the same. People write to express themselves or others, to tell a story. While there may be nuanced differences (stylistically speaking) between poetry and music at their core there are written to share something with the world, and they do.
Arguably one of the most famous and beloved “break-up” song artists of the current day is Adele. Though one might say it is her incredible voice that sells her music, I think it’s really the beauty of her words that people connect to. Take for instance her song, “Someone Life You,” though she is speaking about her own life, the song is relatable for anyone who has experienced heartache. Listen to her song and close your eyes, take in her words. Do not focus on who is saying it but what is being said. More often than not, an image will form. Listening to Adele’s song, there are many things one would see. In the middle of a chaotic world is a couple that embark on a blazing romance in their youth, yet as they got older they went their separate ways. Perhaps, they part a promise that no matter what they will find each other again and write the second act of their romance. However, she hears that he has moved on and found someone else. She feels that loss acutely and yearns to have him back, which she showcases in some of her earlier songs such as One and Only where she states, “I dare you to let me be your, your one and only,” hoping that he will come around to her. However, her next few songs such as Rumor Has It, tell the world that it isn’t that he just didn’t want to be with her, it is that he left for someone else. However, Adele is very certain that no matter in the end it is his loss as, “She ain’t gonna be able to love you like I will.” It is with Someone like You, though, that Adele comes full circle and accepts their love as part of her story. She is able to see that no matter how much she may want to, they can’t go back to the way things were as she realizes that they’re not the same people, “old friend, why are you so shy? Ain’t like you to hold back or hide from the light.” So she accepts that their story has come to an end and rather than be bitter about it, she looks to what the future may hold. She tells him, “never mind, I’ll find someone like you,” as if to say that I’ll take the good that we had and ignore the bad and start over again. All she asks for in the end is that he doesn’t forget her, “don’t forget me, I beg,” so that no matter what at least she knows that once upon a time it all mattered, that she mattered. The song may be written by Adele, but it is not a unique story. Unrequited love, heartbreak, etc. they all go hand in hand with love. One can argue that without one we cannot truly know the other. And no one knows this better than a poet. For they have, throughout, history written of their pain and sorrow over the loss of their love.
Lord Byron’s poem “When we Two Parted” shares a similar history or background as Adele’s song. At the time it was written, Lord Byron was suffering from his own heartbreak. It is this pain that helped Byron pen such an emotionally rich poem. Within the first few lines of the poem, Lord Byron talks of the “silence and the tears” that he felt when his relationship ended. Lord Byron’s overpowering pain is polarized by the aloofness of the woman he loves. Just like in Adele’s song, Byron’s poem showcases the indifference he sees and feels from the woman he gave his heart to. Although she has caused him pain, Byron’s heart still yearns for her as he describes himself, “half-broken hearted.” But just like with Adele, Byron’s love has betrayed him and, maybe even, has moved on “the vows are all broken.” Just like in Someone Like You, Byron’s poem shows his beloved forgetting and deceiving him, “That thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive.” She has broken his heart, shamed him but there is still a part of him that cannot let go of her. Unlike Adele, Byron doesn’t write of acceptance or of moving on. Instead he writes of what he imagines will come to pass in their next encounter. He wonders, “After long years, How should I greet thee?” But Byron doesn’t give an uncertain answer, but rather he goes back to the beginning and answer that he will greet her “with silence and tears,” just like the way they first parted ways. Instead of moving on, Byron makes it quite clear that time will not diminish his pain, but rather it will live on and become a part of him. However, just like Adele, Lord Byron in his own way still wants to protect the woman he loves. No matter the pain he feels, he makes certain to share that, “They know not I knew thee,” as if to say that no one will ever know the name of the woman who broke his heart. Perhaps in his own way, this was Byron’s way of wishing her well, of moving on.
Both Adele’s song and Lord Byron’s poem speak of heartache and the grief felt by someone as they come to terms with the loss of the one they love. They were inspired by different stories, but those stories evoked very similar emotions. Just as, though one is a song and one is a poem their similarities overshadow their differences. I have often felt that poetry and music are very similar in several different ways. Poetry and music have always been an important part of the human experience. While many may consider them world apart in terms of their similarities, the way I see it they are both rich art forms that have so much to offer the world. So much of art is created to tell a story. Be it a saga or a snippet of someone’s life the purpose is almost always the same, an individual yearning to commit a memory or an emotion to paper forever. To live on through their words, to remember acutely that pain they felt, or tell the world (or that special someone) how much they hurt. While many scholars may see poetry as the more “proper” method for showcasing emotion music can be seen as modern man’s version of poetry. While poetry is still alive and well appreciated in our world, it isn’t the most common expression of society anymore. Long ago, the arts and entertainment experiences were embedded with poetry-the theatre, story-telling, sonnets, ditties, etc. It was a means to entertain the masses, to express objection to political oppression, or simply express one’s own personal story. In today’s society poetry plays almost the exact same role. However, if we look at music we see that it took can play that role. As children we learn songs like “Wheels on a Bus” or “Purple-People Eater” that are meant to entertain. In most societies, there are a plethora of songs written to inspire patriotism or denounce injustice. But most of all, there are songs of love, loss, hope, friendship, etc. songs that tell the world of a good moment or bad one-just like poem. More importantly, if you ask someone if they have know a particular song the answer may, more often than not, be yes. Yet, if you ask that same person if they know a particular poem, the answer may be that they’ve heard of it or its author but they don’t really know it.
If we look to dictionaries to define poetry and music we may find words such as syntax, rhythm, line, verse, etc. but dictionary doesn’t always talk about inspiration, emotion, and personal imagery. The dictionary doesn’t take into account that which we feel or where we draw our inspiration from. It doesn’t take into account that people write to tell a story and hope it gets heard. Maybe that story is of someone suffering halfway around the world, or maybe is of the rush of emotion felt during a particular moment. To me, poetry and music are completely intertwined. While once they may have been regard as completely different forms of expression, now their paths seem merged as one. In a way music spins words into poetry and releases into our lives, so that it may slowly embed itself into our world. As German author, Jean Paul once said, “Music is the poetry of the air.”
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