Brian Miller, over at dVerse Poets Pub, raised this question, which led to an interesting discussion. This is my take on it:
For me titles are
among the most difficult pieces of writing. I usually find them last –
except when prompts from some sources suggest them at the outset.
I used to leave some
pieces untitled if nothing suitable occurred to me, but then John Hewitt at PoeWar Writer's Resource Center insisted poems should always be titled, to help oneself
and more importantly the reader identify, recall and locate them. He said, if
all else fails use the first line as title. So now I do, and agree it’s
preferable to having numerous pieces called ‘Untitled’. Sometimes, using half
the first line is effective.
I have found that
very general titles don’t work well. It’s not much use calling something
‘Autumn’ or ‘Bird’; it doesn’t identify the particular poem sufficiently. Even
Keats said ‘Ode to Autumn’. I was guilty of a lot of very general titles when
younger. If you’re prolific like me, you can find yourself using the same
general title several times over for different pieces; not a great idea. (Also, such vague titles are pretty boring, aren't they?)
I agree with those who say that you don’t want to give away the whole poem in the title.
What do you think, dear readers?