What occurs to the mind when we say “poetry”? Most people would respond and say it is - in most cases - a telling of certain emotions in an aesthetic and appealing manner evidently distinguishable from ordinary prose. But does poetry always only portray emotions? In other words, is it always subjective? For emotions are predominantly subjective feelings. Some may say that poetry is definitely always subjective, but that may not entirely be the case.
Poetry, like any other literary form, can either be subjective or objective. Since good poetry always has an appeal or a certain “pull” to it, it may appear to some as always subjective. But not all good poetry is subjective and not all subjective poems are good. A poem can be appealing and yet be completely objective.
Subjective Poetry: subjective poetry more often than not, deals with emotions and how a certain incident or a certain thing made a poet “feel”. This kind of poetry is by far, the easiest type that readers are able to connect with. There are numerous subjective poems that hold endless appeal. Not always has the reader experienced the same incident or thing, but almost always, the reader has dealt with or felt a similar emotion. Two of the best examples of such kind of poetry would be Wordsworth’s Daffodils and Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. Although not all of us would have seen a “host of golden Daffodils” or heard the “immortal bird”, almost all of us, at some point or another, would have come across some beautiful flowers or heard a sweet bird call that made us stop and look or listen. It is the seeing of similar emotions in such fine language that immediately connects us to such poems.
In modern times, many people write poetry like it is an everyday conversation. Though such poetry may not contain grand-sounding language, the very fact that they are so similar to our day-to-day lives and words gives them their attraction.
Objective Poetry: on the other hand are objective poems – poems that are not mainly driven by emotions. Some may even have an underlying lesson to teach us. And yet, such poems hold appeal too. One very good example of such poetry is Ozymandias by Shelley. The poem teaches us how fleeting life is. It does not predominantly portray any major emotions and is not in any great sense “personal”. It is just a description of a broken statue. And yet, that poem has appealed to many just as much as Wordsworth’s Daffodils has.
Poetry therefore can - like all other forms of literature - be subjective as well as objective. It is not just emotions that make up a poem but the underlying thought, the thought process and many more such other factors that make a poem what it is.