32. The Problem with Poetry

 

Celery raw develops the jaw

But celery stewed is more quietly chewed

  • “Celery” My favorite poem

Poetry Image for blog

I’ll never forget my 7th grade poetry class. I remember immersing myself in the world of rhymes, fascinated by the numberless similarities that pattern our words.

 

Look at my puppy all sweet and shy

If it were dead I’m sure I’d cry

And Look how it licks my hand so sweet

Wagging its tail and patting its feet

Why so innocent? How so small?

When his spirit dances above them all

And when I think of him before falling asleep

I like to drink orange juice and sit on the couch.

 

This is the only issue I have with poetry: When it doesn’t rhyme, it sounds HORRIBLE!

During the past two weeks, I studied poetry in my college English class. And as I examined the poems, I nearly fainted…

Because nothing rhymed!

Consider the following poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Glory be to God for dappled things – 

   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 

      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; 

   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; 

      

And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. 

All things counter, original, spare, strange; 

   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) 

      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; 

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 

                                Praise him.

 

WHERE’S THE RHYMING? The greatest element of poetry?

Obviously “cow”, “plough” and “how” rhyme, but look how far apart the words are! The gaps are too big for anything to sound cool!

Obviously there are elements of poetry other than rhyming, but the rhymes are what make or break the poem; and in my opinion, there are too many poems that lack this basic element.  

 

To me, Hopkin’s poem sounds equivalent to:

 

Roses are red; violets are blue

I poop, you poop

Which means our digestive systems probably work

 

Do humans really consider this art? Is it just me? Or is my brain incapable of comprehending such complicated word structures?

In my misery (and confusion), I wrote the following:

 

What is happening to my mind?

Will it surely fade

Away from all existence?

Or stored inside my brain?

Without the rhyme it is a crime

To write away the line

That brings about the harsher reads

And slowly fades my mind

– 

There is a larger difference

It will always be

From minds, brains and other things

For minds you cannot see

I haven’t rhymed in some time

I’m sure you figured that

But what’s the prob? I have a blog

Which fosters that for me

 

Seriously… I wrote all this in like ten minutes.

So what do you guys think?

 

Is poetry defined by the rhyme?

Or is it something else?

That takes our breath away

And surely makes the count?

 

Comments are welcomed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “32. The Problem with Poetry

  1. I like rhyme too, and I agree that there’s something lacking in some contemporary poetry, but it’s just one of many ways to draw a poem together. In “Dappled Things” Hopkins is mixing internal rhyme with heavy uses of alliteration to hold the poem together. Shared sounds like rhyme tend to suggest things are similar. This poem is about all things counter, spare, and strange, so I wonder if that’s why he chose not to rhyme. Check out Dana Gioia. I think you’ll like the new formalists.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris, that’s a good point.

    I tend to forget the other elements of poetry. I guess as a kid, I only identified poetry to “rhyming.”

    Poetry nowadays isn’t written specifically for the ear. It’s written to observe with the eye. Lots of poetry have significant word meanings intertwined in the stanzas, forcing readers to think and pick out key words.

    I’m not good at it, but that’s my best explanation.

    I’ll check Gioia out

    Like

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