In a Valley
Into the sky’s loud spaciousness
throwing its bitter black shadow
across the day’s sweet sunlight.
The largest bird I ever saw.
Must’ve been an eagle--
ominous as my mood that afternoon,
hovering like bad luck or depression,
with a wing span
wide as forever.
poetryrepairs #212 15,06:061
JOHN HORVATH JR
"Holy Mother, bless this furnace
though its blasting burns my feet
and lay me in grandfather's grave;
Keep me in your prayers; remember,
I have passed through hell before."
Panie! Czymze ja jestem przed Twoim obliczem?
Prochem i niczem--Prochem i niczen.
Lord! How must I seem before Thy countenance?
Dust and dirt--dust and dirt.
Each of us fits our small jug of memories.
poetryrepairs #212 15,06:061
JOHN HORVATH Jr
What is it about rhyme? Among the oldest forms of poetry making, from Chaucer to Wordsworth and
beyond, rhyme has occupied the throne of poetry in English; its queen is meter. Simply put, rhyme
and meter are basic to poetry in English. That is why I say that poetryrepairs.com does not publish
rhymes-- Because they are BASIC forms of poetry. But why do many poets turn to one or other or
both as their only tools to the exclusion of all other possibilities in the arsenal of poetics?
It’s the comfort factor.
English readers are introduced as babes to nursery rhyme and meter; children’s play often relies
on such meter and rhyme. From jump rope to military cadences meter and rhyme are familiar, easy
to memorize, wonders of swift and adroit mockery. It feels good to hear; the sounds never truly
leave us; and the patterns are comforting—we return to it often in our lives (we hear ubiquitous
advertising jingles). Rhymed couplets and meter are fundamental to the protestant hymnal:
Rock of Ages/ cleft for me // let me hide / myself in Thee.
/ - / - | / - / || / - / ] - / / ||
Protestant Hymnal rhyme is the classic couplet: AA or, if you wish, it may be varied ABCB in ¾
time, and one rhyme per stanza. It is difficult for readers of English to break out of this pervasive
pattern. Just as difficult, the writer must break out of the pattern. And those who cannot,
poetryrepairs will not publish.
I only note in passing that the first line of “Rock of Ages” does so much more than rhyme. The
/k/ of Rock repeats at /k/ cleft and changes from end to initial position. The /t/ of left and
let suggest a kind of rhyme. Hide the high “a” /ai/ sound works against the flat /ae/ of Ages
and glides into the /ai/ in my. With the labial me/me/my shifting to Thee for some interesting
vowel play. The hard rhyme of me and three almost “hide” the machinations of the line. Not the
rhyme but the totality is what makes it a wonderful line.
I might go on to appreciate how the line “let the waters…from thy wounded side…flow” manipulates
the reader’s lips through Wah//wou//Oh. But the point, I think is made.
There are many ways to rhyme beyond full rhyme (two sound-alike words – as in me/me above) and
places to put those rhymes other than at the end of lines (end rhyme). Shakespeare uses iambic
pentameter couplets to end each ACT of his plays. Couplets may take on gender (masculine rhyme
or feminine rhyme); chronology (following the tenses through a series from present into future
tenses or past into present tenses) or narrative tasks. Rhyme too has its specific denotations
and connotations, too many to list them all (Books such as Princeton’s Encyclopedia of Poetry
A brief and not close to exhaustive list of rhyme forms may be helpful:
-Assonance (vowel rhymes) and consonance (consonant rhymes);
-Consonance can be drawn out for alliteration ; assonance, for sibilance.
-Slant rhyme and Approximate rhyme and Half rhymes
(fall+pal and dead+shreds and table+bauble);
-Light rhyme of vowel and consonant (all-pall-mall) and eye rhyme which plays with
-sight (bough-enough-cough) or (main-again) the latter being a
-“forced rhyme” if pronounced “mayn” and “a’gayn”;
-Identical rhymes (break+wake) and internal “binder” rhyme (“supreme theme” that hold
together two parts of a sentence and/or rhyme);
-And, “pure” rhyme which repeats the same word; A “list” in the form of lines beginning or ending
with pure rhyme becomes a “catalog’; furthermore, in addition to end rhyme there is internal rhyme
and initial rhyme and repetition. A bracing rhyme begins one line then ends the next line.
As does Shakespeare, great writers invent their own style/s of rhyme to fit their own purposes
and thereby lend their names to specific forms.
A poet also needs to know that a form of meter and rhyme in poetry often takes on unique or
exclusive meaning: also known as the “Alexandrine”, an 11 syllable pair of lines with end couplet
(AA), the heroic couplet mocks the epic by humorously drawing the mundane in heroic proportions
(Alexander Pope’s ‘Rape of the Lock” is likely the best example of this). Surely, poets recognize
that a sonnet (14 lines) is about “love”. But a sonnet is about love of a special kind depending
upon whether it is a Modern sonnet or an Italian, or a Shakespearean, or a Miltonic Sonnet, or
a sonnet by Spenser. And each form differs one from another in how it rhymes.
Now, I return to the “protestant hymnal” pattern. If the poem is not about worship, especially
about Christian worship/prayer, then the “would be” poet signals that the poet does not know what
he or she is doing; and, like a dirge as a wedding march, if the pattern in question does not
match its purpose to the purpose of the poet it is a serious flaw at the very least. This is
also true for sonnets and for many other forms of meter and of rhyme.
Thus, poems are not simply memories nor ideas nor dreams made into meter and rhyme. Forms have
purpose; and, purpose is shown also through mechanics including but not limited to meter and
A poet, I say, should know the rules of poetry in order to break them responsibly and meaningfully.
Any break (“turn” or “volta”) in a pattern signals a reader that something is happening, or is
about to happen, and what follows the break is important to note. Even is nothing happens, an
expectation is created.
Mature readers know this. They expect it. Mature readers demand it.
poetryrepairs #212 15,06:061
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