To me there are three kinds of poems: those I can enjoy without creating another frown line; those I revel in for their sound, sense and sensuousness; and the many that make me think I should just stick to fiction.
(Of course there is the obligatory Rilke and Neruda*, every other yuppie's must-have poetry for brown nosing or bluff sophistication. The rule in cocktail conversations: When all else fails, bluff.)
I wonder if, when I struggle over poetry, I am one of those Billy Collins mourns over in his Introduction to Poetry:
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means
I'm still scratching my head over some portions of Whitman's Song of Myself. Some time ago I downloaded his poetry into my iPod, and I probably looked funny frowning in concentration inside the crowded MRT coach, his words pouring into me, and I barely hanging on to the pole and my sanity.
* A lifetime ago, drowned in heretofores and Know All Men By These Presents, I thought Neruda was a friend of my cousin Aris when my cousin’s poetry referred to Neruda's Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines. Oh, the shame.
** Photo borrowed from someone else's site in one of my Net trawling trips. Can't remember whose, unfortunately.