A metaphor makes a comparison, and in doing so shapes our perception. If we say, "Time is a river," we're noting a certain similarity between the two. Yet we know they aren't identical. We may mean that time is fluid, has currents and eddies, empties into some vast ocean, but not that it's composed of water. If we say, "Time is a stone," we may mean it's silent, still, indifferent, but not that it's a mineral.
The word "poet" derives from ancient Greek, where it meant "to make." Before people wrote, they made poems. And still today, people who don't write, make poetry. Even more fundamentally than a writer, then, a poet is a maker, an inventor — in language.
As you read, write, and discuss poetry, you'll begin to think about language and communication in new ways. In a poem, for instance, a decision on word choice may depend as much on sound as on meaning. A sharp visual image may resonate with political or spiritual implications. And memorable phrases can be woven into haunting incantations.
The ideas and suggestions in this section introduce some key concepts for readers and writers of poetry.