14 oct. 2010

Here's a really dumb question. Why is free verse unrhymed, typically? It is dumb, but important. In your answer, an essay of 500 words or less, you may consider the following factors:

The Ogden Nash effect. Lines of unequal length, if rhymed, become doggerel.

The enjambment effect. Rhyme marks line endings strongly. Free verse is associated with two traditions: the Whitmanic one of syntactic parallelism, and the blank verse of Milton with its powerful, heavily enjambed verse paragraphs.

The association of meter with rhyme. Poets throwing out meter will also throw out rhyme, because rhyme doesn't occur unless regular meter does also? Rhyme without meter is comic?

What about Creeley? He is the main free verse poet who rhymes.

The prize-winning essayist will receive a free life-time subscription to BS and SMT.

3 comentarios:

Sarang dijo...

A few disconnected thoughts: 1. A notable counterexample is Auden's "Musee des Beaux-Arts." (I assume you've noticed the first two lines are "acceptable" IP?) 1'. The most notable classes of poems that (at some level) break your rule are rimas dissolutas poems (mostly written in free verse) and (in a sense) sestinas/canzones. 1''. Paul Muldoon's sonnets over the years -- strictly rhymed but quite unmetrical -- have carved out another class of exceptions. What these exceptions have in common is heavy enjambment (which, btw, is very unWhitmanesque).

2. Most modern rhyming verse is rhymed in a loose sense, which would be undetectable if one weren't looking for the rhymes, which one wouldn't be were the poem unmetrical. (There is an expectations game floating in the vicinity of this point, not unlike my inflatable helium girlfriend.) Rhymed unmetrical verse must therefore draw attention to itself as rhymed, which e.g. Kay Ryan's does.

3. Sort of related to this, calling something free verse is rather like calling it a non-banana. There are really multiple traditions of free verse: the Whitman/Lawrence one of wildly uneven but not-heavily-enjambed lines, the Williams/Creeley one of short lines where the linebreak-pause carries weight, the "generic" one that is really extremely loose metrical verse, etc. Some of these risk the Ogden Nash trap; others do not.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Hopkins is a counterexample to all your three factors. The phenomenon is real, but we hardly have the start of an explanation. All I'd be willing to hazard is that rhyme and meter are guilty by association with one another, as aspects of the old way.

Jordan dijo...

All prose should be written in doggerel.