Sound patterning is a feature of most poems, and only in the last few centuries have readers become accustomed to silently reading a printed text. Poems were first written for performance, and only committed to paper subsequently, if at all. Poetry indeed derives from oral traditions, most spectacularly in the case of Homer, but continuing today in many less literate societies.
Deconstructionists view language as a self-referencing code, in which words have no final attachments to the world outside. However overstated, the theory stresses an obvious point. Words gain meanings in context. If sounds are to have inherent meanings, therefore, they will achieve those in the context of other sounds. Given, further, that poems are not freestanding creations but express cultural and literary understandings, any intrinsic meanings of sound will involve a larger matrix, from which they are not easily extracted.
Nonetheless, some generalisations are possible. Just as different languages use common features to carve up the world in generally similar ways " even though the languages are physically and historically isolated " so there appear certain parallels in the ways sound is employed in the very different literatures of the world.
Philosophy, aesthetics and poetry is a heady mixture, and many practioners would echo Rainer Maria Rilke in his "Letters to a Young Poet" : "But let me make this request right away: Read as little as possible of literary criticism " such things are either partisan opinions, which have become petrified and meaningless, hardened and empty of life, or else they are just clever word games, in which one view wins today and tomorrow the opposite view." Even more suspect is current literary theory, which the protégés of the trendier magazines espouse but seem not always to understand. Nonetheless, ignorance of the intellectual foundations also has its dangers: .