8 jul. 2004

It's more the rhythmic impulse, the sense of propulsion, than the technical handling of verse form,
that I value in Gamoneda or Rodríguez. That's why it is difficult to revise a poem into metrical vigor.
It's more a question of what happens between the lines,
the way one line gives way to the next, and the overarching arc or melody,
than the formal perfection of individual lines.

Mark Liberman's expert explanation of English versification,
in recent language log post
points to two major factors. One, a certain "beat," as in jump-roping rhymes:

Basil, Oregano, nutmeg, thyme
Listen to this jump-rope rhyme.

With this kind of verse you don't really have to worry about the unaccented syllables, as long
as you have four beats. With iambic pentameter, on the other hand, the strongest constraint appears to involve
conflicts between the metrical structure of the line and polysyllabic words.
Almost anything else is permissible, though not necessarily advisable.

I can't wait for Mark's next
two installments.

***

My Chinese landscape is making my right margin too long, so I am
compensating by making arbibrary line breaks in my prose.