Archives for posts with tag: rhyme

Scale (PSF)
The beam of a true poem balances
when each pan hovers
with just right the weight.
A real poem contains rhyme;
Each line leads us to a prediction.


When I was at junior school, it was the end-of-term duty of the girls in the highest class, Standard 5, to gather news from each year. These reports were compiled in rhyming couplet form:

As we close the door to Sub A,
it’s to the next classroom we stray.
So now enter the class of the Sub B’s,
where this term they’ve been busy as bees.

It was often as stilted as that; after all the authors were twelve-year-olds, most of whom had had little exposure to rhyming odes themselves. These reports together with the school song, national anthem and hymns we were obliged to sing in assembly were among the early influences of rhyming English in my life. Before I went to school there was rhyme at home. This was fun and storytelling rhyme that shaped Rupert-the-Bear adventures, Ahlberg’s classic “Each, Peach, Pear, Plum” and “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”. By the time I heard these and other rhyming songs and stories related to my younger sister, I was already reading long-form prose. Her educational video sang on a loop, “Five little ducks went out to play, over the hills and far away…” and. I was reading ‘grown-up’ books. Rhyme was little kids’ stuff.

Consequently, rhyme struck me as something twee and childish. It was used to round off pairs of ideas – whether ideology or fun nonsense – so that they would stick in your mind. When I discovered that poetry could exist legitimately without rhyme, I was hooked, though initially, more to reading this sort of poetry than writing it. I loved non-rhyming poetry so much that I thought, I must be a child of modernism’s sentiment. Rhyme seemed to constrict words’ directions, and a sad fate simply because words found themselves slotted into the line of a poem.

Playing with rhythm and meter, musicality and lilt, alliteration and soundscapes enticed my ear and imagination. Yet it is still those predictable lines ribboned together by rhyme that tumble from my memory all these years later: “Success is cheering words of praise, in cheering other people’s ways; in doing just the best you can in every task and every plan”.

More recently I’ve reconciled with rhyme and now deliberately expose myself to old hymns (with wondrous words like ‘eyelids’ and ‘slander’). But I’m still not convinced that Proper Poetry has to rhyme in words. There are surely other tools that craft an idea worth remembering.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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Star of Sirius, lapping Star of Sirius

Yesterday my poem “And a” was inspired by a CD of The Best of Boogie Woogie. Quite coincidentally, on June 3rd last year I posted a poem I’d written many years ago in response to a piece at a jazz concert.

Music has long been a source of great enrichment in my life. Playing in amateur and student orchestras during my younger youth, I spent wonderful times in the company of musicians. I still play my viola, though my endless attempts at Kreutzer, Mazas and Bach are at present only for myself and my neighbours. I listen to BBC Radio 3 obsessively and have discovered spotify playlists. For writing and typing, I often return to a rotation of predictable material: Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”, Depeche Mode, Crystal Method, Fever Ray, Gotan Project, Putmayo’s French or Italian Café. Bachata playlists are a current addition. It helps that many of these tracks are strong on rhythm and known so well to my ear, that they don’t distract me from the task at hand. Sometimes I try to sing along, but my lyrics tend to be surprisingly inventive. This is a poetic license of sorts, I suppose.

Thanks to the immense generosity of friends and happenstance, I have enjoyed some of London’s finest musical offerings: LSO and LPO concerts, ROH and ENO opera productions, Cadogan Hall and Wigmore Hall chamber recitals, opera at Holland Park, renowned string quartets (Kronos Quartet with Laurie Anderson, the Borodin Quartet playing Stravinksy) and free recitals of many kinds – a Polish jazz trio at the Yamaha showroom, Guildhall student recitals, a cellist streamed playing in a boat suspended above the Southbank Centre. At such performances, I’ll often pull out my notebook. I did so recently during a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, simply to note the sensations that the music evoked. These included “a bold shadow on the pavement” and “Christmas pudding alight, then served with custard”.

In Night-Star of Sirius (of 2008), my poetic associations were more pointedly directed by the piece’s original title. I have since become more relaxed about allowing associate creative disciplines (art and other literature, as well as music) to trigger a seemingly unconnected creative response. After all, a poem may form yet from the moment towards the end of Verdi’s Requiem that is as “a napkin laid down after a satisfying meal”.

Wikimedia Commons image under an Attribution Share Alike 3.0 license. Author Jeff Dahl.

256px-Piano_Keys

Piano Keys‘ by Truls (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

One two three four
One two three. And a 
oneity two three four
one two three _ [fine]

Oneity oneity oneity oneity
oneity two three four-a
yeah ah peep for
Parp twoity three _

Oneity two me four
this song’s three four-a
want to join me? 
Catch twoity three _ [Da capo]


The beginning/end-of-the month weekend when people move from their rented accommodation proves a fruitful time for random pavement bounty. Yesterday’s gift was a plastic bag of abandoned CDs. It was Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin that first caught my eye, but home with me also came Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morrisette’s soundtrack to my mid-adolescence, and the wild card, twenty tracks of The Best of Boogie Woogie.

This afternoon I’ve been listening to the Boogie Woogie CD.

In today’s Guardian, television presenter and Forward prize for poetry judge Jeremy Paxman writes that contemporary poets write for each other, rendering poetry irrelevant to ordinary readers. This may indeed be true. I write most often for myself and an imagined ideal reader, rather than The Public at Large.

Together with the Boogie Woogie his comments inspired some self-indulgent pseudo-improv.

So here-above, and a-oneity two three _, is a song just for me. Readers, join in if you wish. Performance directions are included. (Da capo means ‘return to the beginning (lit. head)’ and fine indicates the end of the piece. I.e. to perform you must follow verses one to three, then repeat verse one.)

If this arrangement doesn’t please you, take some wisdom from ‘Pine Top’ Smith. In Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie he calls the crowd to,

“Mess around!”

And a
oneity twoity three four. Forget those poets.
Make your own poetry! Mess around.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill 
Facebook: BeadedQuill 
All BeadedQuill’s books are available for preview and purchase. Click on the links below:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

An old list of nice words that became a poem.
There’ll be a fresh list tomorrow. Do return to read it.
Yours, BQ