Too often at SLUH I hear people talk about how much they hate poetry and how complicatedly stupid it is because it's just a bunch of random words that English teachers look at too deeply and make up meanings for. I never really agreed with them; I like poetry because it's like a puzzle that needs the be looked for more than just face value with words having double meanings or imagery that instills a certain feeling.
The poem "Glass" by Robert Francis explains how we should read a poem and what a poem can be to a good reader and a great poet. Robert Francis uses the simple metaphor that words of a good poem are like simple clear glass that holds a specific thing—the poets thoughts. In that they are not too complex and overdressed with embossment or bent and misshaped so that you can't see what's inside. A good poem can use frivolous words but ones that do not obscure the readers view of the poems thoughts and feelings. However, we often get caught up in those frivolous words and throw our view of whole poem off, forgetting that the real content is what the words hold not the words themselves.
Francis ends his poem with saying that if you were able to do the impossible and remove the glass, that the object held within should stand alone. Taken literally the metaphor would mean that if you remove the words of a poem the meaning should still be there but like he said that's impossible. So to see the real content of a poem you have be able to look past the glass however, it can never be fully gone but must always be there to reflect your face back at you. I like this image so much because when reading poetry we can often relate with the poet and what they're presenting, so we truly do see our image in the reflection of the glass while also seeing what's inside. Being able to metaphorically see yourself in the reflection also allows us to examine ourselves and look at who we are through the lens of the words of a poet.
- Recommended by Sam Mulcahy '20
Words of a poem should be glass
But glass so simple-subtle its shape
Is nothing but the shape of what it holds.
A glass spun for itself is empty,
Brittle, at best Venetian trinket.
Embossed glass hides the poem of its absence.
Words should be looked through, should be windows.
The best word were invisible.
The poem is the thing the poet thinks.
If the impossible were not,
And if the glass, only the glass,
Could be removed, the poem would remain.