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What is The Purpose of A Poem?

Today we’ll be directing our focus towards the purposes of examples of poetry, rather than the purpose of poetry itself because the art is all-encompassing. We’ll also be discussing the reasons a poet writes. When we get to the intentions of the poets themselves, we see that there is purpose that is specific to them. This is the case because poetry is often the expression of the personal. The pains, pleasures, joys, insights and growth can all be documented in poetry and this, to an extent, reveals who the poet is. If I were asked what my purpose was in writing, I’d say it’s to reveal who I am.

In this post, I’ll be highlighting a few of the goals that a poet may have in the writing of their poetry. You can use these as catapults (one of the steps/guides I wrote) for your own poetry. Read more about catapults here – https://readyourselfpoetry.com/how-to-write-a-good-sonnet/.


The Poison Tree (by William Blake)

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I water’d it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veil’d the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
In William’s Poison Tree, the first stanza stands out because it doesn’t directly tell you why his wrath ended, but as an avid reader, I can tell that it’s because emotions, once dissected, are numbed. You understand the why of your feelings and understand that you can change how you react by changing how you think. This poem continues by telling you what happens when you don’t acknowledge your emotions, and we end with our foe lying “outstretched beneath the tree”.
That’s our analysis! Let’s get to what might be driving a poet’s writing.

Poets have a variety of ways to deliver their message; be it through imagery, metaphor, compare and contrast, and the 5 W’s. Since I neglected to explain the last method, let’s do so here. Remember that I wrote, under “Recommendations”, in the post https://readyourselfpoetry.com/the-rules-for-writing-poetry/, to “dance around your subject”. In the case of the 5 w’s, be subtle in your who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s and why’s; sprinkle them into your poetry in places they won’t stand out (the beginning of your lines are off limits) and, to get clever with your W’s, don’t turn them into questions.  You can make them sound similar to statements instead, for example “Who splashed across the ponds with the agility of a lizard!” (weird example, but stay with me here!). Finally, answer these 5 W’s with “how” statements (these would not be questions, but rather explanations). The question in mind should be “How did this happen?” or “How do we follow up?” and the answer should be relevant to your previous W question.


Have we all been given the advice “not to bottle it up”? That, if we do, it’ll express itself in some other form? I believe there is some truth to that, but we can train ourselves to redirect our sadness and fury into more productive behaviors; there are many ways to do this, but we’ll stick to poetry as our method. It comes as no surprise why poetry is such an effective therapy; since creativity is such a flexible and vast resource, we can find that there are a myriad of devices and ways we can use those devices to express ourselves.


Some may see writing poetry as a way of sharing their religious, political and spiritual beliefs. This may be a very different blog post if I were writing poetry for any religious or political reasons, as I write to share the beauty I see in the world, which I believe should be categorized under the spiritual. While I write more to spread awareness of this beauty, which can be cathartic, others may write for the fulfillment that comes with performing their duties or spreading an ideal. The benefit of poetry is that people have the choice to read it or not.


This isn’t just my reason for writing, it’s my philosophy that people must exist to improve themselves and the world they live in. This is my website’s focus: read yourself to improve your poetry, write poetry to improve yourself.


Thank you for reading! Now for today’s book recommendations –


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2 thoughts on “What is The Purpose of A Poem?

  1. This is certainly an interesting perspective on poetry that I do not see myself looking into. I must admit that you have given me a whole different perspective on poetry. I have never been a big fan of poetry, and I’ve never been very artsy, especially with words. But it is interesting to see these types of ideas and the points that you have outlined here today. Thank you

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