Words are the bricks by which we create our poems. One word at a time, the poem comes together to create meaning and feelings. But words, even when not read aloud, resonate as sound in our brains. We understand that “w” is a soft sound, a sound that can linger on the page while “t” is a hard sound that ends abruptly.
My granddaughter stopped by today and brought with her, her book in which she writes her thoughts, her feelings, and her poems. She, happily, read me some of the things that she had written and, I was struck by how well she had used the sounds of letters in words, to heighten, not only the meaning, but the rhythmic energy of the poem.
If you are intending your line to linger, slowly easing its way into the next line, you will want to use those words that end with soft letters that stay quietly on the tongue. (She lifted her eyes slowly, quietly/ the way water slips over pebbles/ whispering to the trees…) If you want the line to end abruptly or with an invisible exclamation point, then use hard sounds that bring you to a screeching stop. (His eyes were like a fist/hard as a rock/hitting her in the heart…)
When writing your poem be sure you understand, not only what you want to say, but how you want to say it. We may say one thing but, want it to mean something entirely different. Poetry provides us with the opportunity to take language to its very highest level, to elevate it to a point where it touches our mind and our hearts – and leaves us changed in some meaningful way.
“Oh lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
“Ode to the West Wind”