Poems (and poetry as a universal idea) have often attracted for themselves something in terms of respect and emotional appeal that novels have seldom received. Nevertheless, even with this reception and love, poetry as a genre could not see much acceptance among the reading audiences for long. After the end of the 20th-century, and the beginning of this primordial race behind money, poetry has been left behind. Nevertheless, when it comes to intense experience and finding pieces of literature to confide with, many people still love to read poems – the qualities of being accessible, short in length, and having a variety of emotions to offer for any situation, poems are sit-coms (situational companions) instead of the go-to time pass novels have become without a doubt!
Poems are composed with a dedicated share of emotions and a limited share of thoughts. It is simply because a poet has to coax himself into what he wants others to hear, learn, sing, or just ponder. Novels, on the other hand, are primarily products of reasoning, rigorous thought process and prolonged considerations about many aspects of an idea. An emotional outburst can seldom transform into a novel. However, in many cases, for many poets, the reason they compose poetry is an emotional outburst and seldom anything else.
Is the engendering idea the root cause? Is poetry as a genre considered emotional because poets often compose their poems emotionally? Well, to counter that argument, one can bring poets like John Donne and John Milton, Wordsworth and T. S. Eliot. These poets seldom used emotions to the extent that many others may have done – John Keats and the Elizabethan lesser-known sonneteers maybe those examples you may like to read. T. S. Eliot, to be honest, was a man of wit rather than a man of emotions. Wordsworth may have had many episodes of emotional outbursts that he, in the latter days of wisdom, named emotional tranquillity.
Discussing novels, one can hardly find a novel that is purely based on emotions. Yes, novels do have phases in the development of stories that involve the readers emotionally. For instance, the poor fate of Gabriel Oak in Far from the Madding Crowd or the ‘unfair’ treatment with Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair or even the recent work by a popular novelist in the form of Atonement. These novels, including many others, may be said to have been able to generate and maintain an emotional relation with readers for a long time. However, can we say that these novels were purely based on emotions or offer only emotions to the readers? Wise ones may never agree!
Coming to the Indian world of English literature, or even Hindi or any other literature for that case, many readers will agree that poets have been the flag-bearers for the emotional department as far as it is about communicating that to the readers. From the early days of the inception of English literature in India to the days of its well-developed shape. There are authors as well, to be honest, who have been able to evoke the emotional response from readers – Mulk Raj Anand with his literary works that tell the tales of those who are deprived and rejected. On the other hand, once again, there are poets like Sri Aurobindo and Tagore who have managed to stay balanced and rather thoughtful instead of just being emotional in their treatment of themes like A K Ramanujan or R Parthasarathy indulged in investments in their emotional ivory towers. Well, in case you are looking for something to read in Indian English poets, you must read these poets irrespective of your camel sitting on either side – emotional or intellectual.
Well, the debate, it can go on for many days, months or even years. Those who love reading novels can never be lured into believing otherwise. And the same goes for those who love reading poetry. However, it is not a debate about reading preferences. It simply discusses which genre offers a stronger emotional connection with readers (and eventually a better emotional impact or intense one). And as far as you can think, you will most probably find poetry taking the lead in all those columns that you want readers to tick for you.
Written by Sarthak for The Best Books