I agree with Terence’s view that the world is not all sunshine and rainbows, and that we need to strengthen ourselves – mentally, physically and emotionally – in order to face the harsh realities of life. As the famous saying goes, “No pain, no gain”.
However, Terence obviously thinks very highly of his own poems, even comparing them to the lethal poison that Mithridates VI of Pontus used like a vaccine to make himself immune to its effects.
Whether a poem is enough to elicit such pain as to strengthen our mental fortitude is a matter of opinion. Personally, I have not read a poem that has given me strong feelings of grief or despair. On the flip side, you could argue that I do not have a very good imagination, and you would be correct. Nevertheless, I feel that the structure of poems – they are composed of short sentences that usually have to rhyme – mean that the ability to communicate feelings is greatly limited. Drama and fiction are much more effective in this regard.
Then again, my exposure to poetry and literature in general has been minimal, perhaps this course will change my mind?