I'm reading Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott to calm down a bit in the evenings. I picked it up because it's one of the handsome old books that came to me when my Grandfather died, I didn't feel like reading Jung's lecture notes, and the F-word is monopolizing The Fatal Shore, which we're reading concurrently (not a good idea - note to couples: always buy two copies of Robert Hughes' histories at a time to preserve domestic harmony).
And it's beautiful. Magical even - words like 'snood' make me giggle but whenever I'm distracted away from the poem by something outside it I realize that it's been painting the most incredible pictures in my head, and that all the alterants I've snorted, licked, swallowed, smoked or absorbed through my mucous membranes don't come close - not to the waving banners of beauty or fear all those words can start flapping in my brain.
I haven't read poetry very much since my undergrad, when I went on a fantastic binge in the last year, courtesy of a lovely professor who made the English romantics make sense and who led me on a directed study through Donne, Wyatt and Petrarch to make me use my Italian in a poetic context. We also got to study the Dorothy Sayers translation of the Divine Comedy and I got to do that in Italian too, though I found it about as basculating as reading the Canterbury Tales (that is, quite). We also studied the Canterbury Tales, and lots and lots of classical poetry too, including and especially Homer and Virgil.
So it was lots and lots of poetry, really, and I enjoyed it, and until I went to Italy and found myself under a massive pile of men I was quite sure I'd go back to school to study comparative literature or something of the sort. Now, my point isn't that I couldn't have done something more different from that if I'd tried (honestly - because I'd have flunked out of a math or science course, numbers giving me wrinkles and all). My point, or rather the destinations of my thoughts which are not particularly pointy, is that
1. Now I understand why I hate modern novels with too many adjectives (Zadie Smith, anyone?). For me descriptive language should be beautiful - not just descriptive - or else I might as well just read some fucking poetry, mightn't I?
2. I'm glad I didn't study poetry in a graduate context because my instinct that the institution would rob me of my love for the poems was probably right, as my enjoyment of them is very visual and not particularly analytic, as my enjoyment of almost everything else is.
But. That's only the case if I start reading more poetry than I've been reading over the last seven years.