Wednesday, January 5, 2011

And the beat goes on

I believe that poetry is communication and we shouldn't have to say "huh"?--at least not too many times when reading a poem. We need to say "Ah yes" and feel our heart beat a little more quickly.

Shakespeare's heart beat largely in iambic pentameter (an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable called a foot, with five feet to a line) in his plays and sonnets.

You (mostly) get what Shakespeare is trying to communicate once you get into his rhythm. Shakespeare also wrote a lot in rhyme. Some experts say rhyming poems are easier to memorize. Some of Shakespeare's rhyming lines do stick in our collective mind eg."--- the Play's the thing--Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."

Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" are written in rhyming couplets. Couplets with a meter of rhyming iambic pentameter are called heroic couplets. It is indeed a heroic job to write a poem in rhyming iambic couplets and have it be a good poem. Just because a poem rhymes doesn't make it a good poem. It can be terrible. What's worse is you may not be able to forget it.

Likewise, you can refrain from meter, rhyme or any set pattern and find you have written a lousy poem or a very good one. This is called free verse.

A poem has the best chance of being a good poem, if we worry less about rhyme and meter and more about trying to communicate what we are trying to say and let it come straight from our hearts. That's where all good poetry starts.

Let the beat go on.