On the absence of rhyme during the reading window

Page after page I read, and then
    another page I turn
and lovely things are popping up
    but I confess I yearn
for rhymes sustained and intricate
    and not just at the end
but in between and profligate
    and bursting to transcend
the free-ish verse and couplets
    (which can be very nice
but there are such a lot of them)
    and rhyme’s a sort of spice
that’s still employed by lyricists –
    they put it in their songs
and people seem to like it
    as if it still belongs.
I don’t want rhyme in every text
    but I’d like to see it more
and when Professors, sorely vexed,
    say English is ‘rhyme poor’,
that’s why we don’t write well with it,
    that’s why it’s out of use,
I hereby say To hell with it –
    that’s merely an excuse!


[This post is in honour of George Simmers
who has now been running Snakeskin webzine
for no fewer than twenty years, and is himself
a rhymester sans pareil.]

9 thoughts on “A LAMENT FOR RHYME”

  1. The only poems I can write are brainless rhyming ditties,
    And if you lot don’t like them then I’m sorry, it’s tough titties!

    Sorry, lowering the tone again. But actually I agree with the sentiments of this blog totally Nell! Here’s to rhyme – and to George and Snakeskin too!

  2. I nearly SAID ‘All comments on this blog’ should be rhymed.
    So this one was well-timed. 😉

  3. Thanks for the honourable mention, Nell.
    You state the would-be rhymer’s problem well.

    Though in Italian, most words rhyme with most,
    So lazy bards can indolently coast
    From rhyme to rhyme without much need for thought,
    In English, tyro poets can get fraught
    When finding rhymes not growing in abundance
    For those who want to make a clever pun dance
    Or get a metaphor performing stunts.
    They hate the feeble rhyme that only blunts
    Their free expression, so they choose instead
    To wave a banner saying ‘Rhyme is dead!’
    They’re really saying:’It’s hard! It can’t be done.’

    (But others say: ‘It’s hard – that’s why it’s fun!’)

  4. Ah, rhyme. Along with metre it’s a test
    some poets fail (OK, a lot). The best
    glide through it as on well-oiled roller-skates –
    think Byron, Auden, even that guy Yeats.
    And you and George are stellar, showing how
    rhyme’s still a part of what we’re writing now.
    But there are stumblers, fumbling with it; sadly,
    they clunk and clonk and do it awf’lly badly.

  5. I do like this poem now I know
    I risk being drowned in my woe
    I cried all day long
    Till I read your song,
    But must I read Ted Hughes’s Crow?

  6. Rhyme, for me,
    Comes easily.
    To be blunt,
    It’s not a stunt,
    But useful formality
    That echoes out lyrically.
    Sonnets, couplets, other rules
    Do not oppress, are merely tools
    That please with ease,
    For poetry’s
    Just the place that frees
    The soft significance of ease
    Of skills with words
    Permitting us to sing like birds.

  7. How To Write The New Poem

    Not like this for Chrissakes! Most agree
    a regular beat –– and rhyme –– has gone with rock-
    the brain’s brainless delight in feeling groovy.

    Be bored with anything that doesn’t trouble
    with the latest shiny box of avant tricks,
    crossword puzzle Utopia’s building bricks.
    Meticulously compose each pile of rubble.

    Sentence discord is still in. Try to gauge
    where the branch will never break then tear and twist
    till it does, leaving a little ragged fist.
    Let clarity go cross-eyed in its cage.

    It’s all a lucky dip. Just mix and match,
    be full of in-jokes, slangy and erratic,
    wittily obscure and fiercely vatic:
    another litty reference. Ready? Catch!

    Poems should have designs on us, our skin
    politicised and stratified and skewered,
    musical phrases preferably obscured
    by tin-eared Text: staves are for staving in.

    The narrative that can’t be arsed, the cul-
    de-sac that needs a totem-pole of signs
    all pointing elsewhere –– here’s what underlines
    our sense of where we are: the void, the null.

  8. Or (to counteract my huffing and puffing) there’s this, from good old Anon:


    ‘ad ’em.


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