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Visionaries and Poetry : A Fourfold Vision of William Blake

January 31, 2010

Visionaries are only as good as their visions that are communicated and received. As a communicator it is extremely important to transmit a vision of understanding to your audience. Good poems are great when they transmit the vision of the poet as clear as a person’s face in a pond with no ripples. By being acquainted with good poems, one can gain a better grasp of language. Good poets have always been revered for their mastery of the language in which they operate. How can poetry help you become a better orator?

I chose a part of a much larger poem today to illustrate that using poetry in writing and communication can enhance the “content and character” of the message as well as the messenger. This excerpt of William Blake‘s poem is extracted from a letter he was writing to his friend Thomas Butts:

William Blake

Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me:
‘Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah’s night
And twofold always, may God us keep
From single vision and Newton’s sleep!”

– William Blake in Letters on Sight and Vision

Poetry is comes from the Greek root “poiesis” which means to “make”. As an orator, you are “making” or creating a message, and in a way you are a poet, an artist. Language when used beautifully in speech can be artful as poetry.

Although linguists and historians can derive the source of modern languages from the roots of the ancient world such as I did earlier, there are questions of language which we can ponder today to help us understand better those whom we communicate with and to communicate better to those whom we want to understand us.

  • Why does language exist?
  • Why do we speak?
  • What can we communicate with and without words, with and without language?

I ask these questions not to have you answer them, but rather to think about why the certain combination of words are so much more powerfully understood than others. As musical notes arranged in certain patterns, words in rhythms are pleasing to the ear and to the mind.

Conversation with just enough fact, and a bit of fiction, will help you develop your inherent tact and good diction.

The Value of Nothing

The Value of Nothing

While reading “The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Society and Redefine Democracy” at the bookstore today, I came across William Blake’s poem above which the author Raj Patel quotes appropriately while explaining that there different sides to the reality that we see. In one example, he explains that the cost of a hamburger is actually much more than what most people think if one takes into consideration the other factors involved in production, consumption, and clean up. The poem was used to draw me into the writing and to think about the topic differently, a little more deeply. It was used as an instrument of understanding. For that I am grateful.

As in writing, poetry can be used in several ways in speech writing and delivery. The simplest way is obviously to quote poetry to draw attention to a topic, or to use as the root of a story, an explanation, or a persuasion. Another way to “use” poetry is more subtle. Poems are an arrangement of words that being brought together by the most advanced of thinkers have a fluidity of water and the structure of crystals. Reading poetry on a regular basis will not only make you more aware of the language of your choice, and the ways in which you can craft your messages, it will also make you a more fluid speaker.

Poetry comes in infinite forms. Even if you take the time to touch upon one type of poetry, you will greatly enhance your understanding of how to use your language to communicate your vision to your audience.

Poetry has a way to make the reader or the listener feel good. Place some poetry in your next speech and let me know how that works out for you. Trust me, you will be happy and so will your audience.

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