Comparing Poetry and Music

One thing that interests me is the discussions of white space in poetry during class. For instance, we have read several poems and discussed the large amounts of space in between words, and what effect that creates. I thought it was fascinating how having empty space can put more emphasis or less emphasis on a word or a phrase. It was something that I hadn’t given much thought while writing poetry before. Furthermore, it reminded me to also think about how the poem looks, visually, because I think that also can say something. Is the poem full of space, with the words all separated? Or are all the words crunched together? It also made me think of rests in music. When playing a piece or a song, musicians often be sure to give the rests their full value. If they change the rest’s value, they most likely have a specific justification and know exactly why they are doing it. Just because there is no sound there, doesn’t mean that it’s not important to the piece. Skipping over rests or cutting them short can have a big impact, for instance it could throw off the rhythm or get rid of the breathing space that rest gave, even though it doesn’t seem like rests would be important. In the same way, I think line breaks and space work the same way in poems. They are important even though there are no words. It should be well thought out what the tone that the big spaces between words in the poem gives. Also it can give the poem very different feelings, depending on how it is set up. Even though there aren’t any words, the empty space in poems is still significant, and shouldn’t be ignored.

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