Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

In Search of a Fading Art Form

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate. / Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, / and summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

“Baby, don’t worry / you are my only. / You won’t be lonely / even if the sky is falling down. / You’ll be my only, / no need to worry. / Baby, are you down, down, down, down, down?”

OK, so you obviously see what I did there – and yes, it is a little unfair, but allow me to explain myself before you judge me (or worse, refuse to keep reading!). The current state of modern media and culture in the United States begs us to confront a very sad, often ignored truth: Poetry is dead.

To even declare such a controversial statement, especially among the intellectual elites here at Georgetown, demands an explanation. What I mean to say with such a tendentious proclamation is that poetry has fallen from its esteemed perch in the culture of the English language, spiraling downward and crashing into the dirt floor of the American barnyard. It may have been a long flight, but it still met an ugly end.

The English department is in outrage; my Irish ancestors – all of them poets by birthright – are rolling in their graves. Let me explain.

A long time ago, in a faraway land called England – or Britain or something – poetry flourished. Everyone wrote it, everyone listened to it, everyone loved it. The written verse was held in high regard as a divinely inspired medium for the always-inadequate expression of the human soul. People such as Billy Shake-a-spurr and Willy Words-are-worth-it were the biggest celebrities, lionized and loved for their awesome ability to speak beautifully for and from the depths of our hearts in a way that both entertained and enlightened us. What they created was magic. Our question today is: Where did the magic go?

Our contemporary poetry lacks the same public appeal. None of my friends – other than Mr. Google – could tell me who [the current U.S. poet laureate]( is; textbooks and bestsellers, not volumes from current poets, tend to line the shelves of our rooms; and I don’t see a “Favorite Poetry” section under the personal information tab on Facebook. Some may have a favorite poet, but more often than not, it’s one who is long deceased. With the exception of those verses read for class, this art form has been utterly forgotten like the pager of the past – abandoned for a more exciting upgrade.

Nobody uses pagers anymore, and those who do get stared at or called names. We’ve ditched them for the holy grails of communicative technology: Blackberries and iPhones! Today, popular music is the iPhone of poetry.

I’m certainly not implying that Jay Sean is as talented a bard as Shakespeare, but Sean and his contemporaries are Shakespeare’s analogs, the ones whose works speak to and are consumed by the masses in the same way. This seems to put us in a, well, disastrous, culturally detrimental position. Luckily, we have a couple of artists better than Jay Sean – like Lady Gaga. No, just kidding, we’re totally screwed.

But wait, what’s that I see looming on the horizon? It’s genres like alternative, jazz, R&B and country. Is it salvation? Well, not quite – better put, it’s the genres that may not be the most popular but definitely are most effective in producing music (art) that is entertaining and enlightening. Often, they are the homes of truly talented, deep, earnest musicians who possess the same levels of virtuosity and passion as Romantic poets. They are the ones whose lyrics sing with the same beauty as those of Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson. With the future of the verse in their hands, we should not be afraid. The music they create digs deep into the well of poetry, back to its origins in ancient Greece as spoken word accompanied by the lyre. Perhaps poetry isn’t dead; perhaps humanity has come full circle.

Culture snobs and poetry purists may obnoxiously scorn our music, but sometimes they might be right. While “Party in the U.S.A.” is a far-too-catchy song, and I might be obsessed with it, next time you listen to it, think about how much substance it really has. Instead of Miley, turn on Norah Jones. Forget T-Pain, and feast your ears (and your mind) on Pearl Jam. Whatever your favorite style of music, I urge you to find meaning in it.

I leave you with one intriguing question that remains: In 100 years time, will elementary school children be sitting in classrooms reading Kanye lyrics out of a textbook in the same way we read Keats?

Of course not – [nobody likes Kanye after he was so rude to Taylor Swift]( Duh.

Conor Finnegan is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at On the Road appears every other Monday at”

More to Discover