Poetry and prose use different approaches to similar subjects, and though the shape seems to be very different from one another, though poetry and prose seek to achieve the same goal – getting their message through to the reader. The author is, a sort of, persuading the reader, tries to make them believe the same thing or consider the same problems. However the approach of prose is rhetorical, while with poetry, at least it sometimes feels this way, the authors try to reach their audience by means of nearly mechanistic methods. Rhyme and rhythm a sort of stick to the memory, and beautiful or original rhythm becomes an instrument of persuasion, however weird it may appear to be from the first glance.
A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri is certainly an example to illustrate it. The main theme of Lahiri’s short story is the art of marriage, the art of living together and still enjoying the company of one another, not being tired or bored. The protagonists of the story have failed to developed these skills in themselves, and now they are disappointed to discover it. As Shukumar is reminded of the appointment with the dentist on coming Friday “He ran his tongue over the tops of his teeth; he’d forgotten to brush them that morning. It wasn’t the first time.” (Lahiri, ND). This in a very few words, without much care for the shape shows, through a very unpleasant allusion, how little Shukumar cares for what his wife thinks or feels, how unnecessary he finds it to even brush his teeth since there is nobody but her with whom he would deal this day. It is a discovery not only for the reader, but for Shukumar himself. He is amazed to find this out, and Shoba lives through similar moments and reflects on the same things. This is an eye opener for them – through somewhat unexpected circumstances and details, to which they have gotten used, they learn about their mutual indifference.
Much more important shape is for the poetry. Denise Levertov’s “The Ache of Love” is a bright illustration to this. The poem explores the same theme, but the shape which it all takes is much more complicated. The choice of words, literary allusions matter much more than in the first example:
“It is leviathan and we
in its belly
Looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it”.
However, the disappointment of the author with the relations is not directly pointed at in this case. Levertov uses literary allusions to strengthen the point made by the poem. Originality of the poem’s rhythm is also a factor which contributes into a more effective transfer of the message to the reader.
Another example to illustrate it is Gwendolyn Brooks’s “The Mother”. Another poem, with a more traditional, conventional rhythm, which uses repetitions and the very structure of the poem to get the message through to the reader. The theme of the piece is very close to the ones, explored in the previously analyzed pieces. It has to do with motherhood, with marriage and the opportunities missed within family life, within motherhood:
“Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.” (Brooks, ND).
Though in this case one can see that the author uses few literary devices and instead gets straight to the point, still the choice of words matters a lot and what is being said is secondary in relation to how it is being said. Thus it appears to be that prose is much more effective in getting important messages to the readers, making them think the message over instead of purely memorizing them.