Advice for Poets 2: To Thee or Not to Thee?

This is part two of our attempt to inspire the bloggers of the world to discover their poetic side and contribute to our charity anthology ‘The Wait’ in aid of Cancer Research UK.

To ‘thee’ or not to ‘thee’ is the topic of this blog. What we’re really talking about here is the over-use of old-fashioned or overly flowery language.

Constant Vigilance!

Firstly, ‘over-writing’ is a matter of opinion. Every poem and every poet is different. However, you must be aware of every single word that you put into a poem. Unlike with novels, there is no room for spare words. Every one counts, and is likely to be noticed.

This might make you tempted to crack out a thesaurus and make every word 5 syllables long. But really, you should be realising that each word already has added power because it is so exposed on the page – sometimes you don’t have to say ‘ the blood-like crimson of the scarlet petals’ when ‘blood red petals’ is vivid enough.

Photo by Meg / CC BY NAME
Photo by Meg / CC BY NAME

Time and Place

There’s a time and place for hyperbolic writing. If it’s what you like or if it suits your style, then don’t let anybody tell you it’s wrong!

What we’re really trying to say here is that if you write an entire poem full of metaphors and strong sentiments then it’s likely to feel crowded and be hard to read. A simply written poem with a few punchy peaks is likely to be more effective.

When it Works

If you’re tackling a very difficult and emotional topic, or purposely trying to emulate the style of a renaissance poet, then of course you’re going to need to use ‘thee’, ‘thy’ and their kindred. Go for it. Just take the advice below…

Beating ‘The Cringe Factor’

Reading what you’ve written out loud will often help you realise if you’ve put anything into your writing that’s a bit over-done and cringey. It’s also useful to get some distance of a few hours, or preferably days, between writing and re-reading. This is to stop any negative frustrations or strong pride you may have been building up from letting you make an unbiased judgement.

Your Masterpieces

If you’ve written a masterpiece, then feel free to submit to us online or email it to It’s a creative and easy fundraising option that can really make a difference.

While we’re talking about writing, consider leaving a dedication on our special tribute wall if you know anyone who is or has fought cancer.


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