Poetics: Proving Your Rhyme

The submission guidelines for a journal I looked at read, “No rhyming poetry.”  I feel that rhyme is nevertheless justified in poetry, but that rhyme must justify itself.  In writing rhyming poetry, it must be clear why the poem is rhyming.  I’m not referring to hip-hop conventions.

I recently read Shelley’s EPIPSYCHIDION.  Shelley assumed by means of poetic convention that his epic must rhyme.  In fact, while I’m no Shelley scholar, I think that most of his poetry, maybe all of his poetry, did rhyme and employ metrics.  Wordsworth considered Shelley a master of style, perhaps the greatest stylist of the English Romantic period.  But in reading EPIPSYCHIDION, I found the language tortured in order to unite rhyme, metrics, and sense.  I’m afraid to say the same of Shakespeare’s sonnets.  But a baroque use of language is proper for a Renaissance poet.  It would not be appropriate for Frost, and Frost masterfully writes rhyme so liquidly that it reads like prose.

On the other side of this discussion is Carl Sandburg.  He privileged immediate expression and despised the reworking of an original impression in order to form rhyme and rhythm.  So we get a massive collection of insignificance.

Making a poem rhyme for no reason is a recipe for insignificance, too.  But then, there is sense that wants to rhyme and beat.  Blake’s THE TYGER has to be in rhyme and rhythm.  Otherwise the poignant line, “When the stars threw down their spears/And water’d heaven with their tears” wouldn’t be such a dramatic shift in voice.  And the energy of the tyger wouldn’t be there without the rhyme and beat that make the tyger burn.  I started to write a poem about flowers a while back, not that I’m a Blake or Shelley by any means, and realized that a poem about something pretty and delicate should be pretty and delicate, too.  A loose set of lines wouldn’t be as formally structured as a flower is.  So the flowers spoke in rhymed stanzas of meter.

Rhyming doesn’t go in poems that exhibit a deconstruction of language as do those of Wallace Stevens and others.  (I know that Stevens wrote before deconstruction was invented.)  In his poems, any word he fancies could be called into the mix of his abstract arrangements of language.  So rhyme would be meaningless.  Even if Stevens wanted to emphasize a couplet with rhyme, it would fail, since there is essentially no emphasis anywhere in his poetry.  That’s the whole point.

So I didn’t even consider submitting to the journal that prohibited rhyming poetry.  Rhyme and rhythm are as important to poetry as are free verse, deconstruction, or any other style persons prefer.  But today, rhyme isn’t a convention–perhaps the opposite.  And a poem must prove its use of rhyme.

KEY WEST: NIGHT CRUISE

The sun had left to darkness the reflecting sea

And the sunset gave the night to you and me

That we watched from the harbor,

The masts’ rigging weaving an arbor

Of love.  The night yielded up silhouettes I cared no longer to see

While I gazed on you in the harbor glow.  Some moments suffice for eternity

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE: Dear visitors to my site: Your each visit means so much to me, and when you “like” one of my posts it makes my evening (I usually post late at night, my time).  You may have noticed a recent flurry of posts–sometimes even two a day.  This is not a sprint of new creation.  I am revising some old(er) poems with an aim of assembling a collection to send out for publication.  To no small degree, I weigh the response my poems get from the internet to gauge whether I will include them in my collection.  In general, when I get a favorable response from the net, I, too, prefer the given poem, personally.  So I think the net is an accurate metric to consider when I make my final determination about whether to include or scrap a poem from the ultimate collection.  So thank you each and every one for taking the time to visit this site.  Your visits and even more, your feedback, are so much appreciated!  Sorry if lately I’ve been sending a plethora of scribblings into your inboxes.

THE WHOLE WORLD SHOUTS, “YES!”

I passed the greater passage of my time alone

Sometimes I stood against the world and I felt fine

At other times, a peaceful solitude I’ve known

But all I was and all I did was only mine

 

Now my life is our life!  You are with me!  We two!

Your presence dances in my work, effort, ambition

New purpose that I never knew devolves from you

All for you, for us, is now my inspiration

 

With you my life is blessed

With you is happiness

With you I want the best

With you the whole world shouts, “YES!”

 

Now my world, my universe, is doubly joyous

Now I am we

And joy or grief for me is joy or grief for us

Solo so long, we two is all I ever want to be

OUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER IS TRUE

For both of us it’s been a trying year

My new med change, you lost your old career

I felt drowning in manic passion

You seemed overwhelmed with stress and fear

We stayed together despite desperation

We struggled but remained in relation

 

In hard times and in good times we still date

Regardless of the trouble on our plate

You are my support; I support you

As we accept—in fact, embrace—our fate

Our love runs deep through all that we go through

In ease, in strain, in everything we do

 

And now it seems we’re coming through our trials

Our grimaces are yielding into smiles

The psychic storm we both drove through is ceasing

Having churned through tempestuous miles

Our difficulty finally is easing

And pleasure in each other still is pleasing

POETRY: A LAMENT

A well-turned phrase

Captured sound of sense

Perfect expression of a truth

Wanting to be told

 

Clarity through word choice: diction

Sentence construction arrangement

Of ideas architectural development

Meaning made through artistry

 

Word play alliteration assonance

Rhythm rhyme resonance meter beat and feet

Imagery symbol simile metaphor

Epic, Allegory, Lyric, Ode, Elegy

 

Truth-telling when there was truth

If there ever was truth

Language scripting reality thought

Feeling words substance signification

 

When there was something to say

To grasp, ponder, moved sonorous sentiment emotion

Sad melancholy somber pleasure ecstasy

Pathos passion feeding and watering cultivation content

 

Transmission of wisdom, speculation, ideation of mood

Tradition taught sought lived into

What matters to be a human

Telos of poesis making humanity

 

When capricious arrangement of words

Wasn’t calculated to obfuscate deconstruct plot sequence

Rearranged syntax disjunct

Verbs subjects objects meaningless

WILDFLOWERS

We love to see a meadow of wild flowers

And take delight in sweet pea, bluebell, pansy

But if we try to pick and hold their beauty

We find they fade and wilt in only hours

 

Still after we have placed them in a vase

We love their delicate pedals and scent

Like flowers, time with friends is only lent

Though beauty in friendships gives life grace

 

And we love it when our friends are nearby

But time with friends tends to be uncertain

If long or short, impermanence is certain

People change; in time we’ll say goodbye

 

Buddhists say that joy in friend or lover

Still is dukkha, suffering or grief

I see the transient nature of all life

Yet still take joy, delight, and pleasure

As it is in friendship, love, or flower

ODE TO THE NIGHT

I feel more at home, and love the dark of night

Then, my creativity, my psyche’s spark,

Flows into art and I drink in others’ insight

I love the peacefulness when everything is dark

 

Daylight is a threat to this contemplative

I strain to shut it out and turn into my mind

In night, the dark, the stillness lets my spirit live

And music, verse, and thought flow freely as the wind

 

I walk the night and love the darkness, the quiet

Day is noisy; light is a distraction

When I try to grasp a poem or express my spirit

Only nighttime gives my spirit satisfaction

THE GIFT OF FLOWERS

We love when someone gives us flowers

And we love the mum, petunia, rose, or lily

Though knowing as we gaze on their beauty

That they will stay for many hours,–but only hours

 

Still, while they are in the vase

We take delight in the delicate pedals, scent

Like the gift of flowers, people in our lives are lent

A gift people are, a certain grace

 

We take delight when people are nearby

Yet the time we have together is uncertain

Long or short, impermanence is certain

People change, come and go, we meet and say goodbye

 

So the Buddhists say that enjoyment of friend, lover

Is dukkha—grief—suffering

Knowing the impermanence of everything

Gives the gift of delight and pleasure

For what it is, in friend, lover, or flower

BIRTH AND SECOND BIRTH

Today we celebrate the day that’s you

But I celebrate this day for me, too

On this day you were born into life

As if a second birth, you are to me as if a wife

 

Your birth, your birth to me, made my life live

That is what your birth and what you give

I didn’t really have a life till you

Then you came, then I was born anew

 

Today, this day is all yours and all you

But it’s also all about me, too

Now it’s us, not you or I separate

With you, our life is one eternal date