On Poetry and Music

On Poetry and Music

Art from Katatonia’s latest album, the Fall of Hearts.

Yesterday I realised the distinction between song-writing and poetry.

I consider myself a poet, though I recognise no rules, and don’t really go out of my way to read the stuff. All poetry I know comes from music, and the occasional piece of literature (Edgar Allan Poe, Ursula Le Guin, etc., though I love the use of poetry in normal writing writing as well. This, I think, is beautiful).

And it occurred to me (from reading my poetry out to others who are aware of and believe in its rules), that poetry might have its own weird-balancing rules that people seem to appreciate (i.e four lines in one sonnet, two next, again four, etc…), but music—the act of song-writing—is to chose exactly how the words are intoned, fitting them together in different ways so that they work rhythmically, even though the way they are normally pronounced may not.

I thought this was really beautiful. It is perhaps obvious, but I had never considered the distinction between poetry, and the steps it took to evolve into song. I never realised how finely the lines shifted and blurred, previously considering all ancient poetry music and all music poetry—and yet, poetry now seems bound in such strict rules (for more on that, please read my poem, Confine 😉 ). Thus “poetry” seems to have made itself the redundant form of music, or bard-dom; the latter being pure, free artistic expression, should one desire.

This realisation came to me whilst listening to the beautiful “Pale Flag” by Katatonia, and observing their use of word inflection. I have included an excerpt of their beautiful poetry below:

Winter winds,
Take flight,
Circling over my,

Haunting voice,
‘Midst the trees,

Rising up across the sea…”

(you can listen to the full song here)

On top of this, puzzling out the wonderful story for their themed album, The Fall of Hearts (you’ll understand more on this later, I’m sure 😉 ), it occurred to me that legends such as Beowulf probably aren’t real, and weren’t even considered so in their time (mind blown—you’ll see why below).

I believed for a long time that the power of myth was a way for art and science / knowledge to work hand in hand in a most efficient way in ancient cultures; for easy remembrance, as said knowledge is passed down (i.e Australian Aborigines singing maps of the land as they journey, or their paintings capturing the contours of the land). Myths were metaphors, for knowledge of all sorts (life lessons / psychological growth included), and they were entertaining too—and thus, were remembered quite effectively.

This may still be so in much of their “literature” / oral history, or culture. But they may also have held stories simply told because they were moving (so for entertainment value alone), not because they were believed to be real (of course, they could always be “real” somewhere)—as Goethe’s Faust, reflected in Kamelot’s albums Epica and The Black Halo, or Katatonia’s The Fall of Hearts as I was just discussing. These albums are dramas, and hold insight into the hearts of man, and morality. There is no science, no facts; only the wisdom of the heart, and its beating language.

And in this, I find, is perfection—be it for me alone. I may well be an INFX.

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