A couple of days ago, an acquaintance asked me whether poetry needs to rhyme. My response was that there is no necessity as regards the use of rhyming in poetry. Eliot’s The Wasteland springs to mind as a poem where free verse is employed throughout large portions of the work.
Most of my own poetry does utilise a rhyming scheme. I feel most comfortable expressing myself in rhyme. This does not, however mean that my poems rhyme throughout, (there is no point in sticking to a rigid rhyming scheme if by so doing the poet loses the sense of what he is trying to say. It is better to have a line which doesn’t rhyme than force one and thereby garble the essence of the poem).
I would, as always be interested in your views. Does poetry need to rhyme? And at what point does poetry become poetic prose or simple prose as opposed to poetry as it is usually construed?
On my way home from work yesterday evening, I passed a familiar block of flats. The evening was a pleasant one, with a warm summer sun warming me as I strolled past the familiar apartments. A ball was being kicked, it’s sound mingling with that of the birds which twittered overhead.
I could hardly believe that this self-same location had, in November 2015 prompted me to pen the below lines:
“My thoughts lost on the damp air
Going who knows where.
The sodden grass
Where children play
but not today.
or bird call.
Only the rain’s incessant fall”.
One might be tempted to construe that the difference in weather is the sole determinant of my mood. Had I written a poem yesterday evening it would, no doubt be marked by an absence of melancholy (in sharp contrast to the above lines). Doubtless the miserable state of the weather on that November day in 2015 influenced my poem. However my mood on that particular day was (for reasons which I can not now remember) one of introspection. The bleak weather combined with my state of mind, to produce “Lost” (the title of the poem quoted above).
It is interesting to speculate on how my poem may have differed had children been playing football despite the foulness of the weather. Would it have been quite so introspective in nature? Would I have written it at all? The honest response to both questions is that I don’t know. Perhaps I wouldn’t have written “Lost” or maybe a poem imbued with rather more light than darkness would have found it’s way onto my blog and (later) into my collection of poetry “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind”.
External factors such as the weather, combine with the poet’s state of mind to produce poetry. Of course rain is by no means always a source of melancholy. It refreshes the earth bringing out the scent of the wonderful plants with which England is blessed. Had I been walking in a park at the time of that November shower, with the scent of autumn leaves and the last of the summer flowers filling my nostrils, I may well have written a different poem, one characterised by a less melancholic tinge. However Autumn has the power to kindle melancholy irrespective of the state of the weather. The dead leaves underfoot signify the dying of the year and one is acutely aware that winter’s iron grip will soon be felt throughout the land. So who knows how my poem would have differed (assuming I had, in fact penned one) in the event the circumstances of that November day in 2015 had been different.
(For “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” please visit http://moyhill.com/lost/)