To rhyme or not to rhyme … (a reblog)

Even though I’ve been writing poetry for many years, incorporating rhyme in my work is still occasionally a conundrum to me. Sometimes I do feel like rhyming will make my work sound like an extremely cheesy nursery rhyme. Then I remember some traditional forms have rhyming schemes; I like experimenting with different forms. When it comes down to it, rhyming is the poet’s preference. The most important factors in poetry are to show, not tell, and to use strong words that will invoke powerful images, emotions and the senses.

The following is a reblog of the post “To rhyme or not to rhyme …” by Lilith Colbert from “We Drink Because We’re Poets” (WDBWP). Twice, I attempted re-blogging this by clicking the “reblog” button. Somehow, neither times posted to my blog, so I copied and pasted.


That is indeed the question, is it not?

I have read many an article and comment about modern poetry and its need not to rhyme and I am quite confuddled by the conundrum. It has been suggested that rhyming is a thing that inexperienced poets do, that it bespeaks of insincerity, that it should be regulated to whimsical children’s books, that it’s too formal, not avant garde enough, ad nausem. In the handbook Writing Poetry by Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williams, they suggest one of the reasons rhyming poetry has become almost taboo is because “Rhyme has a ‘Look Ma, no hands!’ quality which serious poetry does well to avoid.”

As most of you can imagine, I find this all a trifle silly.

 To me, rhyming is the very soul, the very breath of poetry – it is the rhythm with which it flows, the beat that gets our fingers tapping as we read each stanza. Now, not all poetry need rhyme to carry a beat or even carry the magick of a rhyming one, but to not rhyme any of one’s works is denying the heritage of poetry itself!

Look at 90-85% of poetry forms and one will see that rhyme is as essential component to a poet’s artistry as a canvas is to a painter’s image. To me, rhyme is a canvas on which we paint a picture, weave a spell upon the reader’s psyche, transporting them to a world that is not their own or recalling a memory or emotion they themselves have experienced.

And do not the very spells of which I speak more often than not rhyme?
Star of love, burn so bright
Aid me in my spell tonight
Unite my true love to me
As I will it, so mote it be.

Truly, what would Shakespeare sound like without his sonnets?

When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate….

What would Lord Byron without his tricky and creative ways of rhyme?

Come, all you lords of ladies intellectual,
Inform us truly, have they not henpecked you all?

Would Kubla Khan have the same resonance, the same spell-binding fullness of being without the rhyme?

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
My take is, don’t reject rhyme just because some modern movement says it’s uncultured or old-fashioned, follow your inspiration and do what your Muse will! 
I would even argue that the search for rhyme (and metre) allows the poem to creep up on you unawares, frees your unconscious, which is where many of the best poems come from.
– John Whitworth, Able Muse 
At worst, traditional poetic techniques are slighted for ideological reasons, and even envy.  Until you can tell the difference, ignore everyone and write what’s in your heart.

– Patrick Gillespie, PoemShape

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