Using Poetry As A Mirror

2015 Artwork Poetry Is A Mirror Article sketch

This is a short article about a fairly obvious way to make your poetry sound more meaningful. I should probably point out that this trick won’t actually make your poetry more meaningful, but it will give it the appearance of having a deeper meaning to most of your audience.

I should warn you that this trick can make your poetry sound bad if it’s done too obviously or too often. So, if you’re going to use this, then be subtle about it and use it in moderation.

Anyway, if you listen to a lot of music, then you can probably guess what I’m going to talk about here. I’m sure you’ve probably heard at least one song which seemed to sum up exactly what you were feeling at the moment that you heard it.

With the possible exception of love songs, most songs aren’t really about the specific subjects and exact emotions that the audience is feeling when they listen to them. But, these songs still feel meaningful and relevant. Why?

Simple, they use ambiguous lyrics.

They use lyrics which could almost be about anything. If you want a good example of this, then listen to “In The Shadows” by The Rasmus. I discovered this song by accident at least a couple of years ago and, at the time, it seemed very dramatic and meaningful.

But, taking a more careful look at the lyrics – they don’t really seem to mean that much. They’re just a collection of vaguely dramatic metaphorical phrases that sound like the kind of thing someone might think when they’re in a gloomy, dramatic or introspective mood.

In other words, rather than having a meaning of it’s own, the lyrics of this song are vague and ambiguous enough to hold a mirror up to the audience that they can see their own emotions reflected in.

If you see a vague emotional statement or evocative description that happens to be vaguely similar to what you are feeling, then you’re going to interpret it as being about your current mood or situation. You’ll see part of yourself in that song or poem and it will feel more meaningful as a result. The poet or songwriter hasn’t written about you, but they’ve created something you can see your own reflection in.

So, if you add a couple of vague emotional or metaphorical statements to your poetry, or even leave the meaning of your poem slightly mysterious – then this leaves your audience more room to interpret it in their own personal way. This will make your poem seem more meaningful.

However, as I said earlier, if this is done too obviously or too often then it will ruin your poem. So, be careful.


Sorry for such a short and obvious article, but I hope it was useful 🙂

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