Languages are born with intonations and into intonations. They are primarily sound waves. Musicality is also constitutive of waves. Now, does that bring to your imagination: sea waves, air waves, microwaves etc.etc.etc.?
Yes, we breathe and live in a wavy galaxy.
There was the silence. And then boom! The waves happened. The sound happened. The words happened. The speech happened. The language happened. The poetry happened. The song happened.
Or the song happened and then poetry happened? Or both happened together?
But we are at a stage of evolution where we do not classify anything and everything that happens in language as poetry or song. I am not saying that we can give a definition to these two genres of expression. Of course we cannot. But one can say they are the genres of feeling. So, they are kin at the level of their conception as waves and at the level of feeling. They are waves created out of waves and seeded back into the world of waves. Yet, do you also ponder upon their being separate genres? Is it true that what cannot be sung, cannot be poetry?
In many cultures around the world poetry was written to be sung so much so that distinction between the two genres was not even considered. In fact some scholars say that human cultures began with the oral tradition with verse forms composed only to be sung. It is a very popular statement by literary giants that poetry comes with its own music. And even today we see poetry turning into songs thereby entering into a circle of consciousness wider than it inhabited before. Wikipedia lists a number of songs based on poems. Here is the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_based_on_poems . Indian cinema is full of poetry turned into songs. There is a long tradition of Ghazals culminating into songs.
Everyone who has read a lot of poetry and heard a lot of songs must be having their own answers for the question. Here is what I feel about it:
We encounter poetry as written word (or if sung, then as sound, but then it is a song) and a song as sound. In a poem we meet the “abilities” of a series of words. In a song, we meet one of that ability manifested: the ability to flow like a river without becoming conscious of the same. I talk about the abilities of a poem and yet if a poem turns into a song, it is a fact, that it enters wider social consciousness.
Imagine what kind of a song T.S.Eliot’s Wasteland, if tried, can turn into? Words just do not turn into a song in a macabre context. Yet there is, Amrita Pritam’s “Aj Akkhan Waris Shah Nu” sung by Wadali Brothers. Amrita Pritam urges Waris Shah–punjabi sufi poet who authored Heer Ranjha–in the grotesque context of Indian Partition. And then there is our very own Bob Dylan: the song writer; the literary Nobel laureate 2017. This gives us another question to wonder about: what kind of poems turn into songs? Of course, a poem comes with its own music, but then what is their in it which marries it to a musician’s (artist other than the poet) creation? It will not let us know… 😀
Poetry lets us be with the uncertain. It gifts us and leaves us with something which always and always slips out of our hands. It plays. It is it’s andaaz–it’s style and it’s way. And may be so does it is of songs…
The court is open for discussion.