Why Wine Is Like Poetry, And Vice Versa

Purple Rise by Tim CarlEvery dictionary seems to have a different understanding of what constitutes poetry and how it should be defined. One calls it the “Rhythmical composition for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts” — not very poetic. Another says “Language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.” And if you look to poets for a better, more consistent definition, god help you. Every poet who has ever lived has come up with his or her own poetic definition. Wordsworth called poetry “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” and Emily Dickinson is reported to have proclaimed, “If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry.” Words like “musical,” “universal and “truth” often show up in these discussions and definitions.

One of my favorite explanations of what poetry is comes from a conversation I had with Billy Collins, the former poet laureate of the United States. He told me that to him poetry is “Ultimately all about time: That we are surrounded by beauty and then die.” I like Collins’ definition very much. But the point is that everyone seems to have a personal explanation of how best to describe poetry. I see poetry as, “a beautiful and musical communication that attempts to uncover universal mysteries in a surprising and emotional manner.” And it just so happens that I use the same definition when I describe wine.

The fact that there is no one definition of poetry or wine is exactly why they are similar substances. Neither wine nor poetry has a singular, universally accepted definition, but they are both mysterious and evoke strong emotional reactions. Additionally, wine and poetry use sensory images to describe complexity, which explains why wine is often used as a metaphor for our lives. Like each one of us, wine is born of the passion and hard work of special people who came before us. Wine lives and changes over time, just as it has moments of profundity and can go through difficult times. Sometimes it is boisterous, at other times mute. Like a human life, there is often not a single high point but rather many peaks and valleys. And all of this is hidden and discoverable only by those who take the time to explore and build a relationship with it.

The Wine Bottle

That bottle lies
on dusty shelving,
its label faded
gnawed by time,
makers long lost.

Beside it many
empty spaces remain
which once contained
irreplaceable single vessels,
none the same.

When now opened
it reveals itself,
in rusty streams
to contain reams,
wisps, secret things.

Tipped to lips,
stripped of bone,
finally at home,
it lingers long
some where deeper,
further on, beyond.

Tim Carl

About MWycombe

Webmaster for Napa Valley Writers
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