To Rhyme or Not To Rhyme

I received an interesting reaction to a poem I recently posted that included the statement “there is a general aversion to rhyming poems”.

At first glance I was taken aback by the comment. I guess it brought to mind parallels of people saying they can’t stand country western music or rap. But as I continued reading, it became apparent that the writer, while not particularly thrilled about rhyming poetry, was talking about not liking bad poetry.

I can accept that viewpoint – if everyone can agree that bad poetry (whether rhyming or free-verse) can be defined as any attempt to express artificially. (Emotional fraud)

For me writing, or even speaking, is very hard and often fraught with peril. It is extremely easy to offend or bore someone with a poorly constructed statement. I consider communication to be like watching a Wallenda in a tight rope walking act; every move calculated for internal and external forces over a predefined course for maximum effect.

When I write and especially when I write about memories, I am trying to convey something I experienced. That experience may have occurred in an instant or may have been an accumulation of experiences. For instance, when I write about being on a farm, I am writing from the experience of being young and barefoot, without a care in the world. I am also including being raised in a farm house with no insulation, where in the winter; glasses of water left in an upstairs bedroom froze from the cold. Or not realizing that most everyone  had running water. That bathing was not considered a weekly event, even though daily chores in the barn left a certain odor in our hair for schoolmates to smell.

When I write, I want to include that I miss my parents, that I cried at their funeral and I left a written note to my mother in her casket telling her I loved her. I want you to know that I am proud of my heritage of being a little bit Swedish, mostly German with a Polish person’s desire for potato dumplings. I’d like you to know that lutefisk stinks and Catholic communion wafers always stuck to the roof of my mouth.

I’d also like you to know that I graduated from college, worked in construction, managed restaurants, worked as a store detective and held a marketing position for over 25 years. I have watched people die and have been given “Last Rights” by my Lutheran Minister who understood that some Catholic beliefs still hang on even if you’ve converted.

To communicate, I resort to various techniques, include rhyming, meter, alliteration, pitch and tempo. To some these attempts may come across as campy or stilted, but as long they contain honest emotion, I will stand by them.

To those that don’t like rhyming poetry consider the words of Walt Disney.

Oh you pretty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
We love you.
And, in
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
What we’ll do.
Near, far, in our motor car
Oh what a happy time we’ll spend

-Clarence Holm

8 thoughts on “To Rhyme or Not To Rhyme

  1. I agree with you especially “if everyone can agree that bad poetry (whether rhyming or free-verse) can be defined as any attempt to express artificially. (Emotional fraud)”. I so badly want to tweet that, cause it’s exactly how I feel. I dislike doggerel poetry sometimes, and others its quite fun (Shel Silverstein, Dr. Suess), and when it comes to freeverse.. I more often then not fell it’s just someone who got lazy or wanted to stylize their words and there is nothing behind them.

    Emotional fraud. Great way of putting it.

  2. Rhyming is a matter of the moment you are writing the poem. When I get into a certain rhythm I start to rhyme and rap, losing a sense of any poetic propriety, and I let the words flow, whether rhyming or free verse. It is a matter of inspiration. Not liking bad poetry is one thing but rhyming is perfect when it fits what is being written. Good piece. Really liked what you wrote. jk

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