Poetry is a bringing together of many things: feelings, forms, phrases, figures of speech. It begins with -an emotion an emotion which, as Robert Frost said, develops into a thought, and the thought finds expression in words. "The poet's mind," wrote T. S. Eliot, is "a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles which can unite to form a new compound are present together." In the act of creation "In all the "articles " - emotion, memory associations, a sense of rhythm - are fused, and the result is a new thing, a blending of all the parts, a union of the conscious and the unconscions: a poem. Words are the material with which the poet must frame his thoughts, and the greater the poet the more striking is his power of choosing and shaping words. Poetry is essentially a combination of the familiar and the surprising, and the most successful surprises are achieved by the use of carefully descriptive words or epithets.

An epithet is a word which makes the reader see the object described in a clearer or sharper light. It is both exact and imaginative. Distinctive epithets are found in the ancient Greek classic, The Odyssey: wine-dark sea...... wave-girdled island," blindfolding night." Our national flag is a star- spangled banner." In "Thanatopsis" Bryant (more poems) speaks of the ocean's "gray and melancholy waste." In " Home Thoughts from Abroad" Browning describes the "gaudy" melon flower and the "wise" thrush. Michael Lewis tells of an oncoming storm with its "frantic" wind, "whipped" clouds, and "panicky" trees. In A. E. Housman's poem, "Bredon Hill", there is a much-quoted verse which runs:

A. E. Housman's brother, Laurence, has revealed how his famous brother found the exact and suggestive epithet "colored" to describe the scene. When he wrote the poem, A. E. Housman put down an ordinary adjective which did not satisfy him. Then, with the poem in his head, he went to bed and dreamed; in his dream he bit on the word "painted." This was better. But when lie awoke he was still not satisfied. He thought of using "sunny," "pleasant," "checkered," "crowded," and "patterned." Finally, he came back to "painted" which suddenly prompted "colored." This was not only exact and imaginative, but the consonant "c" in "colored" gave a musically repeated sound (alliteration) when joined to "counties," and thus made the line more memorable.

Turn now to a much-discussed modern poem, Amy Lowell's " Meeting-House Hill." You will notice several things about it that make it different from many other poems you know. For one thing, it is in "free verse" that is, it has a free, or irregular, rhythm. For another thing, it has no rhymes. But its outstanding feature is its daring use of words. Observe the way sight and sound are combined, so that "the curve of a blue bay" is "shrill and sweet" - and, to accentuate the shrill sweetness, it is like "the sudden springing of a tune." Everything is intensified. An ordinary white church in a city square seems as beautiful as the Parthenon, loveliest of Greek temples. The poet is so thrilled by the scene that the unmoving structure is given motion. The spire "sweeps" the sky - and the movement is intensified by the comparison of the spire with a mast in motion, a mast of a ship in full sail straining before a stiff wind. The comparison carries the poem abroad. The bay beyond the railroad track turns into a harbor with an old-fashioned clipper-ship returning from China - and the past is united with the present. All of this is accomplished by the skillful selection and unusual arrangement of words.

Rupert Brooke is another modern poet who used words with charm yet with great precision. His "The Great Lover" is an excellent example of the definition of poetry as "the best words in the best order"; it is full of epithets which are surprising but logical, exact and yet imaginative. Rupert Brooke delights the reader with such phrases as "unthinking silence," "drowsy Death," "we have beaconed the world's night," "crying flames," "feathery dust," "friendly bread," "the blue bitter smoke of wood," "many-tasting food," "the cool kindliness of sheets," "the keen unpassioned beauty of a great machine," "the benison [blessing] of hot water," "sweet water's dinzpling laugh," "the deep-panting train," "the cold graveness of iron," "turn with traitor breath."

Robert Frost admits that poetry is impossible to define, but he adds: " If I were forced to attempt to define it, I would say that poetry is words which have become deeds." This active power of words was emphasized by Emily Dickinson in one of the briefest of her poems: