on the state of poetry today

I see the threads have all aligned
__In a patchwork tapestry
That seemed at first all but resigned
__To the death of poetry.

The colors of the patchwork poems,
__Splendid though each of them seems,
Are mismatched swaths cut off from homes,
__Fraying fast at shoddy seams.

A patch shows stream of consciousness
__(Barely can I read this one).
Another stitched vacuousness
__Boldly, yet without rhyme’s fun.

And all of them go their own way,
__Self-expressing endlessly
Unmeasured words in grim array,
__Wove in patterns tastelessly.

Yet from this mess I can make out
__Golden threads as thin as air,
More potent than what is about,
__Grossly scattered everywhere.

These threads are straight, invincible,
__Tempered over times gone by.
Their discipline’s immutable,
__Colored in tradition’s dye.

They move at once, each with a force
__Greater than this age has known,
And put the tapestry on course
__For an image to be sewn

That brings together every piece
__Willing to be brought in line,
And bunches them into a crease
__Firmly held in hands divine.

That’s what I see as threads align
__In a patchwork tapestry
That seems to show a grand design
__For the rise of poetry.


Evan Mantyk is President of the Society and teaches English literature and history in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

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13 Responses

  1. David Hollywood

    As I started this poem my heart sank with reflections we all have about the demise of poetic structure, but was then uplifted by the representation and knowledge it contained that the cause is still there for those of us who wish and work towards seeing the best techniques preserved. Poem’s such as this keep us flying. Many thanks.

  2. Joseph Tessitore

    May it be so, and may we all contribute our little golden threads.

    Great vision and an even better poem.

  3. Michael Dashiell

    At first I thought it was a claim against the loose and scattered nature of free verse, no definite structure, rhythm or rhyme but you seem to seek to praise it in the end.

  4. James Sale

    Excellent work, Evan: there is an element of the prophetic in your poetry, which is a very important tradition not many venture to achieve. Shelley powerfully had that vatic sense, but too many weak imitators in the C19th led to its demise and replacement with dystopian prose – both fiction, and pseudo-poetry – prose masquerading as poetry. I like the development of the weaving/tapestry theme, so appropriate again to poetry, as poetry is a ‘making’. Thanks for this.

  5. David Paul Behrens

    A great poem with an outstanding metaphor, reflecting the rise of the modern day, free form, stream of consciousness style of poetry which started with the Beat poets, such as Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti, described by Truman Capote as typing, not writing. Let us hope the classical style of rhymed and structured poetry forms the tapestry of poetry going forward.

  6. Evan Mantyk

    Thank you all for your comments! I suppose the poem can be interpreted in more than one way, but the rough meaning was that under the general umbrella term “poetry” is a complete, if spectacular, mess of verse today, primarily free verse. The threads are the same as the golden threads mentioned, which are those traditional poets left who are coming together and saving the idea of poetry and, in their own way, our civilization. It is a sort of ode to the Society’s poets and a thank you to everyone who has contributed.

  7. David Watt

    You inspirational poem could not have chosen a more appropriate metaphor than threads to describe poetry as it stands today. Let us hope that the golden threads continue to gain greater recognition as being superior in lustre and composition.

  8. Damian Robin

    Thanks Evan. I think you have a good overview of how the threads are lining up (threads like lines of verse). You see so many attempts and successes as editor of a very open poetry site.
    As always, finely crafted and booming.
    I hope we can all continue our contributions to the, at present, mini-tradition of this site and the few others achieving similar success; and that our effect bubbles or erupts out into the wider world.

  9. Rajendra Singh Baisthakur

    A great poem that deals with the life and “death of poetry”. It is vain to fit poetry into any frame work. Deep thought or feeling takes its own expression and way of expression — “self expressing endlessly”. The image of weaving and the metaphor of golden threads illustrates that poetry is a result not only of inspiration but of craft too. Apparent “patchwork tapestry” may really be “a grand design for the rise of poetry”.


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