Essay - The Art of Rhyming Poetry - As I See It.

a writing by Denis Barter

I am well aware that in today's world, the world of Rhyming Poetry, is of little consequence to many. It is seen as being antiquated, outmoded and smacking of an era long gone, that refuses to die! I however, would like to disagree with that thinking!.

All too often I read Free Verse - seldom get to the end of a piece - blank verse - only to find, few know the basic construction of same although it is something that is so essential to its success. There are other odds and ends of poetry under a variety of assumed titles, too numerous to mention. Haiku, Limerick and others inter alia. If well written, it matters not in what form or genre the words are written and displayed.

A good or talented writer or crafts-person poet, once their initial enthusiasm for what they have composed, has abated, will or should allow reality to take over. They should objectively and quite callously select, and hone each and every word written. Once this has been accomplished to satisfaction, only then will it be possible for the reader to fully enjoy his creation. This action, if and when it is applied diligently to the overall composition, is something that should be applied to both the subject and the artistic mode chosen, and will, by use of such judicial expertise, result in a piece of prose that is ever a joy to read.

On the other hand however, a piece that is seen to be ill written and sloppily prepared? Whether the subject chosen is an excellent selection or not, matters not. If a poem is badly composed - some might think it ‘decomposed’ for it leaves the reader grasping- even gasping perhaps - and looking for a valid reason why someone would write such a piece? If it fails this criteria and by which it will be judged, then it should be immediately and unceremoniously dumped!

It should be remembered that superfluous words are little more than flotsam and by the employment of such, will never make a badly written piece more acceptable. Nor will the liberal use of popular catch phrases and their like add to a poorly written piece. Spontaneous writings are all well and good and appropriate, provided the author, has the ‘guts’ to reduce all extraneous words, to leave only the bare bones of his composition. Not only by such editing will it be effective in getting the message across to the reader, but by said means, will eventually endear the writer to many more readers. Even more so, by employing such action, the remaining words will succinctly express the writer’s logic, and thinking without placing undue strain upon the reader. One always has to remember that those reading are not necessarily the brightest pennies in the purse!

When one enters the realm of Rhyming Poetry, it is even more important that the previous rules are followed fairly closely. Admittedly one can and often is permitted the use of some Poetic Licence, but this is a freedom that should not be overused nor abused! Only in extreme circumstances should it be implemented, and then only to obtain a specific effect, when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

Unlike my (none too expert) understanding of Free Verse, the importance of cadence or beat, rhythm and rhyme are in my estimation, of the greatest important. All without exception have to play an integral part in the composition of a rhyming poem. Without a perceived ‘flow’ to a poem, there is only discordance. Personally I feel it is far more important for rhymed verse to stay closely within the confines of the original metre or ‘format’ the rhyming poet lays down at the start of his composition. More so, than in any other genre. It is a ‘beat’ that must not only be seen but ‘felt’ when one is reading and this, if at all possible, should continue uninterrupted from start to finish. There are exceptions to this normal practice, but I do not intend to cover them here.

Basically, it is something akin to understanding the basics of a drum beat. I liken Free Verse to the Jazz Band. Where the drummer for the most part keeps up a steady tempo and rhythm, whilst the other various members of a Jazz ensemble are free to charge off on a solo jaunt, knowing the rest of the band is always there to which they can return, as and when they choose.

However, the Rhyming Poet is far more restricted. He is as one sees the Soloist in a Symphony Orchestra. Although he is allowed some latitude in his playing, he must remain confined overall by the music to hand. Once the musical selection has been decided upon, he is directed and controlled as to what he can or cannot do? This can be likened to the rhythmic pattern chosen at the start of his poetic composition. Should the Soloist wander outside the music and lose his rhythm, he will send the whole orchestra into chaos and the concert ends in confusion. Therefore it is imperative a Poet stays within the bounds as he had originally set in place.

Nowhere is the sense of rhythm, beat and rhyme followed closely, nor is it more important than when used in the construction of the Limerick. Only a few of thousands of Limericks read, will be seen to depart from the normal pattern such a piece demands, Few that do, are thought successful. Should one lose the pattern or rhythm? One loses the point of the Limerick. Much the same goes for rhymed verse.

Still in doubt? Read - despite what you may think and feel about the earlier poets and their works - the acclaimed Poets of yesterday - one has to acknowledge they were masters at their trade. There were no computers, so all poetry was labouriously written and honed by hand until their rhythm was impeccable.

Well that, for what it’s worth? Is my take on the genre of Rhyming Poetry. The fashion for which I have a passion, and one for which I’ll continue to follow and practice, until fate deems otherwise.

Rhymer. August 22nd, 2015.

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