Ask the Expert Series: A Conversation on Poetry

 

Ricochetti Concretevol came up with the idea to start a conversation where he would share his expertise: Concrete Questions Conversation. His real purpose was to attempt to claim the prize for worst poster when the contest rolls around next year, but he wound up starting a fascinating thread. It’s also a fascinating idea for a conversation. We have so much expertise gathered on Ricochet from a wide variety of fields of endeavor. So, I thought it would be fun for those who can to share their expertise.

Like many Ricochetti, I have several areas of expertise. But most of them are shared by several other people on Ricochet. For instance, we have many published authors here, so questions on the general topic of writing could be answered by many here as Aaron proved in his Fictional Advice for Fictional Authors conversation. Corporate governance might be another expertise that is easy to find on Ricochet. Many lawyers deal with the topic. Many of our members have surely also been on boards of commercial, non-profit, or governmental corporations. While they may not have abstracted the experiences in quite the way I have, if a question were put out on the subject, there might be a dozen or more answers available immediately. Some of my other areas of consulting expertise might be scarcer on the ground at Ricochet, but how many people are likely to have questions involving process management or data modeling? Of the things I know that there is a remote chance that people may have some curiosity about, the only thing left would be poetry. This includes poetic structures, meter, rhyme, rhythm, the prosody of many nations, and all those things we are supposed to believe disappeared in a free verse post-modernist world. If you have questions about how to write a better poem, how to approach a form, how to do anything regarding poetry, share the questions here and I shall try to answer them comprehensibly.

Now, Concretevol had questions from another member to start things out. I will start with a few questions from my FAQ sheet on one of my Websites.

Q. How does somebody create a new poetic form?

A. As poets, sometimes we conform to someone else’s standard, as when we write a sonnet. Other times we invent a new structure for a given situation and poem. If we codify the rules of the new form, find a name for it, reuse it, and share the form definition with other formalists who use it, it becomes a new form. If we only use the form once, don’t write down the rules, or if no other poets get excited by it, the form is just a nonce form, meaning used once.

In my own work, I’ve found at least four ways to create new poetry forms:

  1. Make something up for a specific poetic occasion. Form follows function, and sometimes I find I’ve created a form that is reusable when writing a specific poem.
  2. Vary on a theme:. As an example, when I first started using form, I couldn’t scan a poem to save my life — no rhythm —  so had great difficulty with accentual-syllabic forms, such as the English sonnet. Given this, I created my own form of sonnet, the sardine, that is purely syllabic by definition. Of course, I didn’t have to do that given that the French also produce purely syllabic Petrarchan sonnets, but it seemed a great idea at the time. This brings up another point.
  3. Play to your handicaps and strengths. If there is something about a form that you can’t do or don’t like, consider changing the form rules for your own use. In developing the sardine, I actually used two existing forms. First was the Petrarchan sonnet; second was the redondilla, a purely syllabic Spanish quatrain with envelope rhyme scheme (abba). Based on this mixing, I came up with a fourteen line form that was syllabic, but was also tougher to rhyme than other sonnets. I’m much better at rhyming than a lot of people. (That isn’t to say that I don’t put out some real klinkers in my light verse.) So, the sonondilla’s predominant rhyme scheme is abbaabbaccddcc, which is even more difficult than the Petrarchan sonnet to do well.
  4. Analyze present forms for gaps. While writing a book on poetic forms that is still in progress, I came across an interesting fact about the ballade family. There is the ballade and the ballade supreme, a slightly longer variation. There are also the double ballade and double ballade supreme. Lastly, there is a double refrain ballade, but no double refrain ballade supreme. Well, being a poet with an engineer’s soul, or vice versa, I thought it best to fill the gap. Now I have a definition for the double refrain ballade supreme: a 35 line isosyllabic form divided into three ten line verses and a five-line envoy. Each line is usually eight or ten syllables long. It has two refrains. The rhyming and repeating structure are thus: ababbCcdcD ababbCcdcD ababbCcdcD cCdcD.

Knowing what elements define the different existing structures helps to understand how to create new ones.

Q. When you sit down in front of a blank page/screen and decide to write a villanelle, as an example, how do you approach it. I would assume, the theme comes first. Then what? Do you write down the rhyme scheme, find the first line and go from there?

A. Each form is different. For instance, with a Villanelle, it’s best to start with the couplet, the two refrains. They appear throughout separately and together and have to function as a final couplet.

The same is true of the Triolet, which also has a couplet. It’s scheme is ABaAabAB, so the first line (A) is a refrain that appears alone once, and with the repeton (B) twice. I start with that couplet.

A Sonnet I usually start with an idea and the turn of thought or pivot. I find it easier to develop the whole if I have the pivot in mind from the start.

A Sestina is a difficult form where you need to find six very flexible words as the repetitive end words. That is often the first step.

A Tyburn is similar, requiring one to find the first four words/phrases that will work together. The hardest part is finding a rhyme that will allow the structure.

I guess summing it up, I would say that you find the most difficult part to make work, and tackle that as your starting point. Once you have that down, the rest flows relatively easily.

Q. How does form influence creation?

A. Art is never done in freedom. All art, all creation, is done under constraints. There are several types of constraint in art: monetary, temporal, intentional, and artificial among them.

An architect will produce a different office building with a fifteen million dollar budget than with a one million dollar budget. If a sculptor gets a commission for a work, he may use different materials based on the cost of materials versus the amount of the commission. Maybe the sculpture will be marble instead of steel because of the cost of materials and price to work it. A painter who cannot afford a huge canvas may be able to afford a packet of smaller ones, so he’ll paint six miniatures rather than a wall-spanning canvas. Those are monetary constraints. Unless you are taking poetic commissions, you are unlikely to run into this type of constraint. Poetry usually takes time rather than money to produce. For a poet, a monetary constraint might come with enough cash to get his book an ISBN.

A temporal constraint deals with time. Does the building have to be finished before October when the snow flies in Minnesota? Does the sculpture have to be done by April 16th for the degree show? Does the painting have to be done by tomorrow for a gallery opening? These are examples of temporal constraints. Again, unless you are taking commissions or publishing, time constraints are seldom a factor. You might have to put out a poem for your wife’s birthday or write her one for your anniversary, but usually this isn’t a factor for poets.

The other two constraints are the ones we deal with every day.

Intentional constraints deal with purpose. If the architect is building an apartment house rather than an office building, it changes the specific applications of the building code. It changes the plumbing capacity needed. It changes the parking lot to space ratio. It changes many other factors. If the sculptor is building a work based on a commission from the city fathers, it will probably be more sedate than something created for a student degree show. If the painter is doing a portrait of a lady, it will be different than an urban mural of sea mammals on the wall of an opera house. Intention is reflected in the why. For a poet, writer or speechifier, one set of intentional constraints is the communication goals. Are we trying to inform, persuade, query, entertain, or some combination? A limerick is entertaining, but seldom meets the other three goals. A haiku is informative. It is good for painting an image in a few words, but would be terrible for persuasion. This brings us to the next set of constraints.

Artificial constraints are those imposed by the environment, tools, and materials. A brick building has different qualities than a glass and steel construction, as well as different strengths and weaknesses. A sculptor using steel works differently than one using stone. Different tools are used for the different media. One is cut and chipped away; the other heated, bent, and welded. A painter with a 4″ x 6″ canvas and oils is going to produce a different landscape than an artist with a 3′ x 4′ canvas and acrylic paints. For a poet, form is the set of artificial constraints. Ideally, form follows function. In other words, the intentional constraints are imposed first, which directs the artist to the form. An architect doesn’t look at a pile of bricks that he has laying around and think: “Gee, I can build something. I wonder what I should build?” Most of them have a commission or plan in their hands before they consider what materials will be used. With a poet, ideally one knows what one is trying to accomplish, and one can pick the form that best meets that potential.

The truth is that there is interplay. If the best form to achieve the goals and subject of the poem is a ballade, but the poet has never heard of a ballade, he may use a villanelle instead. Maybe the poet is required to write a Shakespearean sonnet for a class, so he determines his purpose for the poem based on that constraint.

Getting then to the meat of the issue, form influences creation through the interplay of intent with the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the form. A diamante is not a narrative form. It is created out of sixteen discrete words that do not interact grammatically. Instead, there are two base words, antonyms, which the other words describe or relate to. The only way that the diamante conveys a story is through the choice of a title and the direction downward from one polar opposite to the other. A ballad is meant to tell a story. A haiku is meant to convey an image, perhaps a metaphor comparing a natural event with a human one. Haiku is not meant to tell tales in the same way as the ballad. You can’t do with seventeen syllables what you can with hundreds of words.

Earlier I discussed finding the starting point of the poem. For each form it is different based on the hardest part of creating that form. For the haiku, it is in coming up with a fresh natural metaphor to describe something. After that, finding the words that convey that image in seventeen syllables is relatively easy. In writing a villanelle, creating the two refrains, which act both independently and as a couplet, is the most important factor in creating a successful villanelle. Of course, choosing the two rhymes is important, too. If you choose a rhyme ending that is hard to bring six or eight words on the topic to bear, things can get ugly. For instance, in my The Life and Times of Leaf the Red, the last word in the middle line of the first tercet is “travel.” I wound up with difficult going on the rhyme, following with: unravel, gravel, gavel, unravels, and gravel. It’s a good thing it is a bit of light verse, or I’d have to rewrite that with a new rhyme. Basically, you have to determine what the most important or difficult part of the form is and start there. This is another way that form interacts with the creative process.

So, those are a few questions to get things started. Let’s see if poetic form is as interesting a subject as concrete, or whether Concretevol just picked the wrong subject to be an expert in if he wanted to be the worst poster of the year. (And if you haven’t, I do urge you to check out Concretevol’s thread. It’s very interesting.)

There are 169 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    We were in the PIT last night and a discussion of rhythms came up. An interesting thing about rhythms in English is that two-syllable rhythms give a serious tone; whereas, three-syllable rhythms tend to feel lighter. For instance:

    Híckory díckory dóck.

    Many such nursery rhymes have three-syllables to the poetic foot. On the other hand, the English-language heroic measure is the two-syllable per foot iambic pentameter. A related meter would be iambic tetrameter with only four-feet per line:

    I héard the bélls on Chrístmas Dáy
    Their óld famíliar cárols pláy.

    So, choosing the right rhythm for the mood is important.

    • #1
  2. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I like this.  But let’s dumb this down for someone like me.

    I used to write silly poetry here on Ricochet.  Like this.  And this.  I do this a lot.  Have since I was a kid.

    But say I wanted to write a real poem.  Other than overcoming my personality, where would I begin?

    Furthermore, what is it that separates a good poem and a bad one?

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Casey: I used to write silly poetry here on Ricochet.  Like this.  And this.  I do this a lot.

    Let me go check these before commenting further…

    • #3
  4. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Arahant: Let me go check these before commenting further…

    Formatting was lost in 2.0.  Please don’t be a harsh grader.

    • #4
  5. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Oh, and all my likes were lost too.  And I think Peter owes me a book.

    • #5
  6. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Wow. You put much more thought into poetry than I do. I had forgotten most of those forms, though I have a poetic dictionary somewhere. Most of the time, I wing it.

    I sometimes regret using the same singsong form over and over again. But poetry is about the music of language, so any form works for me if it rolls off the tongue.

    Villanelles are extremely difficult to pull off. I butchered one in college. Ironically, that was back when I also experimented with the New Age nonsense that pretends prose is poetry so long as it is flowery and broken up into lines.

    Robert Frost had it right about form and rhyme, but that experience at least convinced me to loosen the reins a bit. As songwriters throw in “hooks” and flair to spice up otherwise rigid song structures, poets should feel free to punctuate a general meter with deviations. As a musician, I think of this in terms of the beat vs rhythms. Too many deviations and you break the form, but one here and there can add flavor. Sometimes I conclude a poem with a shorter line.

    Writing lyrics for music is easier in some ways. If I am the one singing, then I have complete control over the delivery. Poems are vulnerable to the various dialects of readers. But I don’t often put the same effort into lyrics since the words don’t have to stand on their own. I’d almost rather just hum everything because I’m more concerned with how the lyrics are sung than with what they say.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Okay, first there is nothing wrong with a bit of doggerel verse. One of my favorite recent writers was Lyn Nofziger, He would write limericks and sonnets, often on a political theme, and publish them under the name “Joy Skilmer.” Ogden Nash was another one who wrote very light verse. Light verse is poetry, although as with other types of poetry, there is good, bad, and very, very bad.

    Theodore Sturgeon once said about science-fiction, “Ninety percent of [science fiction] is crud, but then, ninety percent of everything is crud.” It’s true of poetry, too. For instance, if you ever want to feel better about your poetry, check out William Topaz McGonagall.

    So, what makes a good poem vs. a bad poem? First, as with any good communication, does it suit its audience? A good poem for a five-year-old is not as good for a fifty-year-old. So, audience matters. Second, does it serve its purposes? In communicating, there are four communication goals: to inform, to persuade, to query, and to command. Poetry usually falls into the first two goals. Of course, you could ask a question with poetry or give commands with poetry, but I don’t think anyone has been that tied to poetry since Underdog. Another part of purpose is the mood. Do you want the reader to laugh or to cry? Do you want them to do something? Or just read the poem. How do you want them to feel when they have finished reading it? If it’s meeting the authors purposes, it is at least good for the author.

    I’ll split this post and address encoding/decoding and prosody next.

    • #7
  8. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Arahant:
    Or, perhaps a poem interests you and you would like to ask about its form?

    OK, this one:

    the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
    are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
    (also, with the church’s protestant blessings
    daughters,unscented shapeless spirited)
    they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
    are invariably interested in so many things—
    at the present writing one still finds
    delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
    perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
    scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
    …. the Cambridge ladies do not care, above
    Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
    sky lavender and cornerless, the
    moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy

    Besides the mirror-like rhyme structure, there seems to be something going on with rhyming accented and unaccented syllables, making the structure even less obvious.

    So “spirited” rhymes with “dead”, “things” with “blessings” and “box of” with “above”. What I want to know is: why?

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Again, poetry is communication. In communicating, we take messages, encode them in some way, deliver them through some medium where the receiver will decode the message and, hopefully, understand it. We all learned that in sophomore speech class in high school. One of the largest problem areas comes in the encoding/decoding. In poetry, people will often try to encode multiple levels of messages through the words they use. A poem can be an extended metaphor. This is fine so long as it works on both levels. But sometimes the surface level does not make any sense unless someone knows the implied comparison. Another area where people go wrong is by encoding through allusion that their base audience will not know. For instance, I can probably mention Tithonus on Ricochet and get many wise nods. But if your poem is aimed at the general public, most will not be able to tell Tithonus from a grasshopper. So, understanding that you want your audience to understand your poems is an important step. On the other hand, if you are only writing for you, don’t trouble everyone else by publishing them.

    • #9
  10. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Y’all might be interested in this essay by Edgar Allan Poe, written in 1850, in which Poe discusses his creation of “The Raven”. I happened across it a few days ago, though I don’t remember where.

    Poe was by turns eloquent and tedious.

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    And that leads us to prosody. One element of prosody is the form that is chosen, such as triolet, sonnet, etc. Even if it is just rhymed couplets in podic measure as one might find in Mother Goose, it is a choice. Another element of prosody is the allusions or other poetic devices one uses. When the so-called experts and critics talk about good vs. bad poetry, this is usually what they are talking about.

    Unfortunately for many of us, our first exposure to poetry was Dr. Seuss or Underdog. (When Polly’s in trouble, I am not slow. / It’s hip hip hip and away I go!) Rhymed couplets have their place, but they are not easy to pull off in English. For one, English is a rhyme-poor language. Sure, we have fifty bajillion words, but the average vocabulary is smaller and many people go for the obvious rhymes. By learning to use other forms, a poet can get away from the sing-song of Dr. Seuss. For instance, the English sonnet uses a rhyme scheme of ababcdcdefefgg. This separates the rhymes by a line instead of having them adjacent. Longer lines can also help separate the rhymes. Instead of six-syllable lines, try ten.

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I actually have a lot of this kind of information already encapsulated here.

    • #12
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    One more bit on prosody and good poetry for Casey before I move on. If one keeps a consistent rhythm throughout the poem, it becomes sing-songy. So, many poets will invert a foot here and there to break it up.

    Do nót go géntle ínto thát good níght,
    Old áge should búrn and ráve at clóse of dáy;
    Ráge, ráge agáinst the dýing óf the líght.

    Here, Dylan Thomas throws in an extra stressed syllable in the beginning of the second refrain (third line), which is used through his famous villanelle.

    Though wíse mén at their énd know dárk is ríght,

    In the first line of his second stanza, he again changes up the rhythm a bit. Instead of xXxXxXxXxX, he has xXXxxXxXxX.

    But, do not invert the first or last foot of the line until you really know what you’re doing. It is lkie the txets taht sohw we can raed meixd up wdros. Having the first and last consistent helps establish the rhythm. It is also like a strong spice. Use it lightly to break the sing-song, but not so much that it breaks the rhythm entirely.

    • #13
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Aaron Miller:Villanelles are extremely difficult to pull off. I butchered one in college. Ironically, that was back when I also experimented with the New Age nonsense that pretends prose is poetry so long as it is flowery and broken up into lines.

    The trick to forms is knowing what is important. In the villanelle, the most important thing is the couplet which makes up the two refrains. Once you have that, the rest is relatively easy. With a true sonnet, start with the volta/pivot in mind. By knowing where to start, it makes a form much easier.

    Robert Frost had it right about form and rhyme, but that experience at least convinced me to loosen the reins a bit. As songwriters throw in “hooks” and flair to spice up otherwise rigid song structures, poets should feel free to punctuate a general meter with deviations. As a musician, I think of this in terms of the beat vs rhythms. Too many deviations and you break the form, but one here and there can add flavor. Sometimes I conclude a poem with a shorter line.

    Exactly what I was just writing about, and now I see what you posted.

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: What I want to know is: why?

    Why not? That is a form of sonnet, although exactly which variation is not immediately coming to mind. But we can see that the rhyme scheme is abcddcbaefggfe. Let me take a closer look at the rhythms and meter.

    • #15
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Arahant: Why not? That is a form of sonnet…

    Sure it is. But what I mean is, why the use of unaccented syllables to rhyme with accented ones?

    Is it to further obscure the already-somewhat-unusual rhyme structure?

    Or is it because “he couldn’t think of better rhymes” (always the wrong answer, according to any English teacher)?

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    the Cámbridge ládies who líve in fúrnished sóuls
    are únbéautifúl and have cómfortable mínds

    Just starting here, I am noticing that it does not seem to be strict accentual-syllabic. Each line has, arguably, a different number of syllables, but five stresses. One of the things to be seen is that sometimes stress moves a bit if too many stressed or unstressed syllables come in a row. This is called promotion and demotion. English has a natural alternation between stressed and unstressed syllables. This is why iambic is our natural rhythm. (To bé or nót to bé?) If we get three stressed syllables in a row, the middle tends to be demoted to unstressed. In the case above, there are loads of naturally unstressed syllables. When three occur in a row, it is not unusual for the middle to be promoted to sound a bit more stressed. When there are four in a row, one will certainly be promoted. Such is the case with “are unbeautiful and have…” Unbeautiful should only have one stress. Because of the unstressed syllables around it, it winds up with three stresses.

    • #17
  18. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:Sure it is. But what I mean is, why the use of unaccented syllables to rhyme with accented ones?

    Is it to further obscure the already-somewhat-unusual rhyme structure?

    Or is it because “he couldn’t think of better rhymes” (always the wrong answer, according to any English teacher)?

    I understood the question and am coming to it. There are forms which specifically call for male endings paired with female endings, such as the things/blessings you bring up.

    Could it be to obscure? Yes, it could. Having rhymes too close together and perfect meter can hypnotize the reader or listener into missing a lot of the poems.

    “On the shores of Gitchee-Gumee, etc.” So, using various devices to bind the lines, but break the pattern is quite common.

    Or, despite what your English teacher said, it may just be because the poet was phoning it in that day. We all do that sometimes.

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    (álso, wíth the chúrch’s prótestant bléssings
    dáughters,unscénted shápeless spírited)

    I might be tempted here to change some things depending on dialect and to promote that last syllable:

    (álso, wíth the chúrch’s prótestánt blessíngs
    dáughters,unscénted shápeless spíritéd)

    That is how many people would read it since it is “poetry.” On the other hand, it might make sense to assume that the author intended the male/female match, especially with the proximity of the lines. It is not as important with souls/Poles or minds/finds, because they are separated by six and four lines respectively.

    they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
    are invariably interested in so many things—
    at the present writing one still finds
    delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
    perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
    scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
    …. the Cambridge ladies do not care, above
    Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
    sky lavender and cornerless, the
    moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy

    Such an assumption would also explain above/box of and D/the, although to make this last rhyme, one would have to be precise in diction to a point of stressing the syllable. Obviously, the author is also using enjambment on these last two lines, which helps disguise the pattern when properly read.

    So, we can assume the best, but I’m not sure I would here. Until I worked hard to develop my rhythmic faculty, I was horrible with rhythm. Maybe the poet just had a problem with it at that time in life and got better later? Given other rhythmic anomalies, I don’t know without knowing the poet and the body of work surrounding this one.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Aaron Miller: Y’all might be interested in this essay by Edgar Allan Poe, written in 1850, in which Poe discusses his creation of “The Raven”. I happened across it a few days ago, though I don’t remember where.

    Is this a joke? Poe died in 1849.

    • #20
  21. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Arahant: Is this a joke? Poe died in 1849.

    Spooooky….

    • #21
  22. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Arahant:

    Aaron Miller: Y’all might be interested in this essay by Edgar Allan Poe, written in 1850, in which Poe discusses his creation of “The Raven”. I happened across it a few days ago, though I don’t remember where.

    Is this a joke? Poe died in 1849.

    The joke’s on me, apparently. That is not the site where I originally read the essay supposedly by Poe. I can’t remember where I first encountered it.

    • #22
  23. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Arahant: On the other hand, it might make sense to assume that the author intended the male/female match, especially with the proximity of the lines.

    Personally, I think the hard-to-find rhyme scheme (putting imperfect rhymes close together and the perfect ones far apart) is fitting as part of poem’s satirical message. It is, after all, is about the kind of people whose interest in high-minded things (like sonnets and Christ and humanitarian causes) doesn’t extend very far beyond the cursory, and what they miss as a result.

    That a person giving a cursory reading to the poem normal diction could miss the underlying structure entirely seems fitting. As does the fact that the fastest way to bring out the structure is through really stilted pronunciation.

    The poem is by e e cummings, incidentally.

    • #23
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: I think the hard-to-find rhyme scheme (putting imperfect rhymes close together and the perfect ones far apart) is intentional as part of the satire.

    It may well be.

    So, other questions or thoughts?

    • #24
  25. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Arahant:

    It may well be.So, other questions or thoughts?

    So, is it normal to sit down and think, “I know what I’ll do: I’ll deliberately use a rhyme scheme to satirize something!” Or does it just sort of happen? (Both?… Neither?…)

    Also, what do you make of the poetry in the Bible, which isn’t known to us (in the English translations most of us read, at least) for its rhyme, meter, or alliteration/assonance?

    • #25
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: So, is it normal to sit down and think, “I know what I’ll do: I’ll deliberately use a rhyme scheme to satirize something!” Or does it just sort of happen? (Both?… Neither?…)

    Come to think of it, the rhyme scheme may be closer to the Wordsworth sonnet. He may have been picking on Wordsworth, even though he mentioned Longfellow. I think Longfellow usually used Petrarchan sonnets, but I could be wrong. So, he may have been working on two at once, if you take my meaning.

    Is it normal? Many poets have lampooned their rivals or predecessors by imitating their styles. For instance, there was Spectra. Sometimes, as in the case of Spectra, the satirical poetry was the best they ever wrote because they were less constrained in writing it.

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  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Also, what do you make of the poetry in the Bible, which isn’t known to us (in the English translations most of us read, at least) for its rhyme, meter, or alliteration/assonance?

    Could you be more specific in your question?

    Different cultures have different ideas of what constitutes poetry. The pantoum is dependent wholly upon repetition. There are many other poetic devices and standards used around the world. While I know some Persian traditions that are widely used in the Semitic world, I do not know the original traditions that were used at the time the Bible was written, nor do I know how well the translations “fit” the poetry.

    • #27
  28. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Ok my knowledge of poetry is summed up by this definition my amazing highschool english teacher drilled into my head.

    “A sonnet is 14 lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter.”

    I hope that is actually correct because I cannot forget it!  I’m not even sure what it means at this point but am amazed it stuck this long. :)

    • #28
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Concretevol: I hope that is actually correct

    Well, if you get rid of the “un” before rhymed, it’s not bad.  The typical sonnet done in English does use iambic pentameter which is a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables like this: xXxXxXxXxX. So a line might be like:

    When lást I sáw my lóve upón the stránd.

    The accents represent the stressed syllables. There would be fourteen of them in some rhyme pattern. The English or Shakespearean Sonnet’s rhyme scheme is ababcdcdefefgg. The Spenserian is: ababbcbccdcdee. There are many other forms of sonnets.

    Unrhymed iambic pentameter might be blank verse, which Shakespeare and his contemporaries used in many of their plays.

    • #29
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Oh, sonnets have one more requirement. It’s called the volta or pivot or turn of thought. It require that it have a change in direction of thought for the sonnet. Depending on the type of sonnet, the pivot might come anywhere from line 9 to 13.

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