Verse #atozchallenge


Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. ~ Carl Sandburg

A puzzling yet beautiful line. We know the poet tries to tell us something meaningful, yet, like with abstract art, the meaning seems to be left to our interpretation.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of poetry — its subtlety, meanings dependant on the reader’s state of mind. So, let’s take a guess. What do you think the line means?

I’ll give you my guess (okay half-guess, as I had some help):

Poetry, a provocation (echo) asks the sometimes closed mind (shadow) to explore its swirling thoughts, to write (dance).

Hmm … poetry as the driving force behind creative thought. I like that. In many ways, poetry seems to provide the mind with something to ponder, thoughts to arrange into poems through stages of poetic composition. I speak not from experience, but as a lover of poetry.  

Care to venture a guess?

Image: johnsingersargent’s spanish-dancer


29 responses to “Verse #atozchallenge

  1. Maybe referring to poetry vs. prose as being more subtle, hidden, unobvious meanings, or meanings, ideas, etc., that need to be coaxed from the words, discovered by the reader. Something like that…LOL

  2. ohh thank you for your insight on poetry.I am happy when prose writers appreciate poetry as for most of them poetry is just not enough for expression of thoughts ;)

  3. Love the drawing by Sargent. Lots to think about in this post.

  4. Hi Silvia – fascinating thought process here – which I loved reading and now will ponder a-while … cheers Hilary

  5. Absolutely! Interpretation of a Poetry totally depends on the reader’s state of mind!
    Well coming to the meaning of the line, when I read it in the beginning of the post, I had the same guess as yours :)
    Loved your post <3
    Srivi, The Piscean Me

  6. I agree with your guess. I’m not a poetry fan, but my interpretation is more subtle. An echo is there, heard but not seen, but part of you. The shadow is seen… shows a from of you. If you put the echo and the shadow together you have a portion of the person’s soul… poetry.

  7. You’ve given that beautiful line a writer’s perspective and added to its charm :)
    What crossed my mind on reading it was, poetry is the voice of our heart that inspires our experiences and memories to come to play in words.
    Loved your take on V <3

  8. The drawing is beautiful (hurrah for more thought provoking pictures!). :-)

    Poetry is an attempt to communicate between souls, to share feelings in ways that regular speech (prose of any kind) cannot. The shadow, I think, is all the things we feel and long to communicate but cannot simply say because what we are describing or sharing is a feeling, not a word. Not concrete; insubstantial and yet quintessential.

    And it must be asked, because poetry cannot be forced. Open communication, from soul to soul, is a gift, not a requirement.

    At least, such is my interpretation. :-)

  9. Nah, I stay away from poetry. Unless I’m giving a poetry assignment to 7th graders. Then I tell them to allow that it’s not like prose–they can read and interpret as they wish.

  10. I love freeverse poetry, and poetry from the various languages of Eastern and Central Europe. I prefer not to try to overinterpret what it’s saying, and just enjoy the beauty and melody.

  11. Poetry can challenge your thought patterns, makes you expand your horizons – that’s what I like about it. Although I have to admit, I sort of gave up on The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

    • Oh, yeah, some can be very challenging. It’s as if the poet intended to confuse everyone, or they’re just way ahead. Literature in general can be that way. I’ve given up — almost — on Infinite Jest, a novel. Too convoluted. Thanks, Noelle.

  12. Lovely lines – which leave an echo – ever reverberating. The echo dances on on and on, like ripples in a pond, or like a never ending vibration. At least that’s the image that comes to my mind. Thanks Silvia ..

  13. Writers experience life twice, once in real time, and again when they recreate with their words. That’s what I think the echo is in the Sandburg quote. The shadow, is the darkness, or that which is unclear, made more visible in the creating of art/poetry. And, the dance. The dance is the play of words, and life, and the beauty that can result.

  14. We are the poetry in which the shadow of our lives dance. That’s how I see it, Silvia. But, the meaning IS subjective.


  15. Love this. The words evoke mystery. When I think echo I think memory and shadow is mystery both concealing and revealing. Great question.

I welcome your thoughts.

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