Sarah always hated poetry in her classes.
The words always jumbled up together, making her want to bury her head in her arms and take a long, deep nap. Long enough to end that particular class, at least.
A loud slap on her plastic desk jarred her, and Sarah shoved herself upright to glare at the one who had rudely interrupted her quick nap. Standing over her was the familiar shape of the class’ A+ student, who was oh-so-perfect at almost everything; Jackson. “I know this class is a bit early, but I’m not sure that means it’s a good time to sleep whenever you’re feeling drowsy.” An easy grin slipped across his face as his attention jumped between Sarah’s blank face and the blank notes that sat in front of her.
“You say that every week, you know.”
“I know. Whatcha got, there?”
Around the duo, the other classmates chatted excitedly about the last poem they had read, called The Mad Mother. For Sarah, the poem had no other meaning than the tale of some crazy croon who stumbled around a forest… So why was everyone else so excited about it?
Jackson plopped down in front of her and held his hand out. “May I?” He asked, and wordlessly she handed over her book. He scanned his eyes through the text only once before laying it down between them, ready to explain.
“I just don’t understand. It’s a crazy woman, so what?”
Jackson chuckled. “That’s the point of poems; to hide meaning throughout its words. Look here.” He pointed to one of the stanzas. “This woman isn’t just crazy; she’s grieving. There’s plenty of examples that run through the poem that prove so, like ‘My little babe! Thy lips are still’. The child that you think she’s carrying is not alive, and she doesn’t understand how to cope with it. The father is probably also dead as well.”
Sarah sat there with her jaw dropped. “But how could you even think of that? Only from a few stanzas?” Another chuckle from Jackson as he leaned back in his seat, his eyes darting up towards the ceiling.
“For me, it’s all about perspective. This woman thinks her child is with her, but what do other people see around her? Does that make sense?”
“Ugh. That’s too difficult.”
“You’re the difficult one here, you know.”
Sarah glances down at the poem in front of her once more. “You’re good at this, you know.”
“It’s based off of experience, not just intelligence, you know.”
Sarah glances at him just in time to see a sad smile flitter across his lips. Just as she opened her mouth to pop out another question, professor quickly announces the end of the class, and Jackson is packing away his belongings and rushing out the door.
I decided to use this creative writing project to really focus on my time in this class, as well as the idea of perception when it comes from one another. For this piece of writing, I was inspired by my own difficulty in reading the class’ poetry, since it was in such an old-fashioned language that I am not used to. The Mad Woman is a perfect example to use, since throughout this poem, the woman is seen as a crazy person who is obsessed with finding her husband in order to complete their family. However, with certain stanzas, it can be interpreted that her child is dead, and she is carrying around his carcass in grief, since she is alone and has no one to console her during this hard time in her life.
This is relatable to many, especially those who have lost someone close to them, such as a friend or family member. Without the help of others, one may lose themselves to grief, ending up in them appearing crazy as they try to find a way to accept their loss and continue on with their lives. The protagonist in the story above doesn’t understand that concept, or the concept of what others see versus what you may see. That’s the reason why poems are so influential; they can hide a story that you didn’t even realize was being told. The Rine of the Ancient Mariner is another great example, using metaphors and imagery in order to help the reader visualize the scene and actions throughout the poem, forcing the reader to create their own story as they interpret the poem in a way that they can properly understand.