They say poets are cowards. Weak souls hiding behind words their fragile mouths won’t ever utter otherwise. They say things in a way not everyone would comprehend so they don’t have to deal with the weight their words carry. They say poets are the most cowardly of all artists, always hiding the deepest meanings of their works. They say poets are scared of what will be if they made their feelings open, so they shove them in between extended metaphors and difficult similes; they wrap them in ironies and well-hidden sarcasms; they mask them with alliterations and well-arranged imageries and bury them deep in the fields of their lines and stanzas. Poets do everything humanly possible to make their points unclear simply because they lack the courage to say things the way they are.
Poets write love in such a way that even Cupid gapes at their words, amazed at how some people seem to understand love better than the god does. Love poems that touch the heart and melt the soul. Poems that make the elderly smile at memories of old romance and love long lost in the ashes of time. Poets will make you forget all the hardships you have endured for love and set you falling into it all over again. Yet, they say poets are the worst lovers. At the sight of love, they take to their heels and leave all the words in their heads running along with them.
Why do poets use complex sentences and hard-to-decipher metaphors when they can use expressions everyone can understand? Why do they employ facades that put garbs on their true intent? Why are poets never straightforward? Like you never really know what a poet means even when you think you do. They hide their secrets in their lines and only make visible what they chose to make you see. Interpret poems however you wish, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to capture what the poet is really saying.
Are poets really cowards? What if they are sadists who love to mock the whole world? What if it pleases them to see people wracking their brains trying to find meaning in their words while they sit and laugh at their foolishness? Maybe there is some sort of high that comes with writing what sounds like pure gibberish to most people. Maybe it comes with some feeling of exaltedness, in the being able to think and write the uncommunicable. Maybe poets belong to some sort of cult, a circle in which only they can be adepts. But what do I know? I am not a poet.
Naseeba Babale is the secretary of Poetic Wednesday Initiative—the leading poetry promotion organization in the north..