Monday, July 14, 2014

The Joy of Prosody: The Joy of Rhyming!

By Liz Mastin

The Joy of Rhyming!

The poetic conversation has been “non-stop” concerning rhyme and whether it is passé in this day. However in his book Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer, many famous poets have argued strongly in favor of rhyme, among these are poet George Santayana saying, “Like the orders of Greek Architecture, the sonnet or the couplet or the quatrain are better than anything else that has been devised to serve the same function; and the innate freedom of poets to hazard new forms does not abolish the freedom of all men to adopt the old ones.”

Edgar Allen Poe said, “Contenting myself with the certainty that music, in its various modes of meter, rhythm, and rhyme, is of so vast a moment in poetry as never to be wisely rejected – is so vitally important an adjunct, that he is simply silly who declines its assistance – I will not now pause to maintain its absolute essentiality.” Robert Frost stated:  “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.”

        A Little Poem
          Poems needn't rhyme
All of the time.
But if they do, 
                     That's okay too.  - Anonymous

Of course most of the famous English poets used rhyme and meter, among these Shakespeare, Pope and Donne, but times have changed greatly, and as always, unless rhymed poetry is done correctly it will fall under scrutiny! For instance, using what is called “forced rhyme” is considered particularly grievous, for a poet should not use a rhyming word “just” because it rhymes. The rhyming word should further the idea of the poem. It may mean adjusting a line’s phrasing to make the chosen idea-word work well for him.

Here are some types of rhymes taken from “Rhyme – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”:

Masculine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the final syllable of the words:

Feminine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the second from the last syllable of the words:

Syllabic: a rhyme in which the last syllable of each word sounds the same but does not necessarily contain stressed vowels:
Slant Rhyme (Imperfect – Near – half):  Slant rhyme, known also as half-rhyme or imperfect rhyme , refers to words that  have final matching consonants and almost rhyme (farm, yard) or appear to the eye to do so (said, paid). “Many poets use slant rhyme to introduce an element of the unexpected and prompt their readers to pay closer attention to words themselves rather than the sounds of words.”  Emily Dickinson, for example, pairs “soul” with “all” in one of her poems. She was a prominent pioneer  in slant rhyme.
*Slant rhymed words appear to be of one syllable.

Assonance: words (within a line) having matched vowels
 The horse coursed through the field.

Consonance: words having matching consonants
The robbers had rabies.

Semirhyme: a rhyme with an extra syllable on one word
Bend – ending

Weak Rhyme: A rhyme between a pair of one or more unstressed syllables. Unlike syllabic rhyme, the pair of words will contain differing numbers of syllables.
hammer – carpenter

Among those using rhyme and metrics today are rappers, songwriters, metrical poets, and there are those of us who enjoy writing both metrical and fee verse. In free verse, cadence takes the place of counting stresses (feet), and rhymes normally appear as internal rhyming, assonance, consonance and alliteration.

1. In the poem below: You will find syllabic rhyme in “dizzy” and “easy” in the first stanza; “breath” and “death” constituting a masculine rhyme.

2. In the second stanza, “pans” and “countenance” form an example of weak rhyme and “shelf” and “itself” form a semirhyme.

3. In the third stanza, “wrist” and “missed” is masculine and “knuckle” and “buckle” form a feminine rhyme.

4. In the fourth stanza, “head” and “bed” is masculine  and “dirt and “shirt” are also masculine.

My Papa’s Waltz
By Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

Liz Mastin is a poet who lives in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho during the summer and Bullhead City, Arizona in winter. She thrives on the study of the great poets, their biographies, the schools of poetry to which they adhered, and the poetic conventions of the times in which they lived.

While she enjoys free verse as well as metrical poetry, her main interest lies in prosody. She notices that most of the enduring poems are those we can remember and recite. Liz enjoys poetry forms such as the sonnet, the sestina, the couplet, blank verse, simple quatrains, etc. and she hopes to see modern poets regain interest in studied metrical poetry.

Liz is currently putting together her first collection of poems which should be completed this winter. The poems are a mixture of metrical and free verse poems.

No comments: