“Poetry teaches the enormous force of a few words, and, in proportion to the inspiration, checks loquacity.”

Words carry a great deal of power and, interestingly enough, sometimes brevity holds even more power than a long drawn-out speech. You are much more likely to capture the attention of your audience if you choose your words carefully than if you simply say everything that comes to mind. Don’t add in extra words for the sake of having extra words.

And that’s a big part of why poetry is so powerful. It is up to the reader to decipher the precise meaning or significance that the words have, quite literally reading between the lines to decipher the poet’s motivations and perspectives. As described in Dead Poets Society, we write poetry because the human race is filled with passion… not because it’s cute to write poetry.

The quote above comes by way of Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American lecturer and essayist from the 19th century. He also happened to be quite the prominent poet and he is known to have led the “Transcendentalist” movement during that time. Emerson championed indivudalism, valuing who we are rather than what society wants us to become.

In fact, he is also the man who said this:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

You’ll oftentimes find that quote attributed to a “Walt Emerson,” but Ralph Waldo Emerson never went by the name “Walt.” In any case, he reminds us that while our circumstances bear some significance, it is our individual identities and integrity that are much more important.

What lies “within us” ultimately determines what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us. Be true to yourself.