Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Little Rhyme

I have always avoided end rhymes. It was one of the those things that a contemporary poet just didn't do. I did, however, often sneak in internal rhyme patterns. I would do things like have the last word of one line rhyme with the middle word of the next line, or other more intricate patterns. Part of the pleasure of poetry to me is the puzzle aspect. Making the pieces fit into some arbitrary structure.

Lately I have been committing two cardinal sins: playing with end rhymes and playing with traditional metric feet. I stooped so low as to write a sonnet:

I imagine that you stand beside me
in meadows high on quiet mountain slopes
where hawks wing in the skies above and see
beyond the horizon of our small hopes
and fears. So much that I would tell you now
if only speech were left on my dull tongue
I would tell vast legends of what and how
it should have been how it should be sung
if sung as I dreamed it sung, but facts
are not as one would wish however strong
the wish. Instead we must accept our acts
and live the consequences, even wrong
in mountains where the sky itself would start
I imagine worlds with us no more apart

No challenge to Shakespeare here.

And then I worked on an elegaic piece--elegaic in the sense that it imitates, in some sense, Latin and Greek elegaic metric. Classical elegy consited in a dactylic hexameter followed by a pentameter line 6/5. In English one could argue the iambic pentameter is equivalent the the classical dactylic hexameter, culturally if not mathematically. So I wrote a metric of a iambic pentameter followed by a iambic tetrameter, with each couplet rhyming. This is my first experiment:

some think with every decision the world
divides—a new world formed, now curled

beside this one, each possibility
explored. Whatever can, will be.

In some parallel world just beyond reach
all that we let get away, each

lost moment, not lost, each failure unmade.
So, in another world, you stayed.

A flock of honking geese wings over head
the rain will arrive before bed

this afternoon spent staring out windows
the dry grass stirs as the damp breeze blows.

Just to be clear, I am not really obsessing about some lost love. The poems just seemed to trend that way.

I tried to avoid direct end stops on the rhyme. Most lines are enjambed, meaning you read through the line to the next. Also there is usually a caesura in the line after the couplet, a pause that keeps the poem from becoming too sing song--or so I hope.

The gist is that is is fun sometimes to play with traditional metrics.

Coming soon--at least I intend. This blog has been offered in fits and spurts--reviews of several books. I have been on a reading jag of late. Included in the reviews will be three books by China Mieville, The Information by Gleick, and a book about the city of Alexandria, among others

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