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No Time for Rhyme?

July 27, 2009 | 7 Comments

When did the rhyme go out of poetry? It used to be that poems rhymed and used a prescribed number of lines that were formed in a special way. Now it seems that all one needs to do is write down one's thoughts in a curious and clever way and call it a poem — and it is a poem. So when did this sea change occur and why?

Charles C.
Berkeley, CA


It began in Berkeley
Not steadily but jerkily,
The loss of rhyme
And sense of time
And a prescribed number of lines formed in a special way.
The poets of Berkeley looked out across the Bay
Toward the Golden Gate
And it rhymed with punctuate
But it didn't rhyme with mist.
So rhyme and form were kissed
Goodbye. Call it clever or curious,
But breaking the rules does not worry us
Poets. And something loose and free in the City of St. Francis
Made poets decide to take their chances
And let the sonnet ride off into the sunset.
Though I wrote a sonnet once at
The corner of 9th and Irving
As the N-Judah train came swerving
Around the bend, which proves that it can be done,
Provided you have someone
You can write a sonnet to who will be appropriately impressed.
Which is maybe why rhyme and form disappeared in the Far West.
The highest purpose of poetry is to win the heart of the Beloved
And there is no high purpose that is above it,
And if the Beloved doesn't care for rhyme and form, then really
A man is probably going to write freely.


Dear Garrison,

The Bay Area always seems to be innovative.
Poetry, food, politics and two of my adult
children who are cleverly living without
full-time jobs (in San Francisco)
are the result of the
West's ever-changing philosophy.

Regarding poetry: after being a fan of yours
for many, many years, I was a little surprised
at the depth of intimacy in the Sonnets on
your CD. I listened on the way to work early
one morning, and couldn't wait to get back
in the car to listen to more. You let us
into your life. Thank you for sharing.
San Clemente, CA

Wow. I used to live in the Sunset District in SF, and it never occurred to me that I could write a sonnet while waiting for the N-Judah. Thanks for demonstrating that it is still possible to use rhyme in a fresh manner.

How lucky I am to have read this today!

Thank you for sharing the lovely way your brain works.

This, sir, gave me spirit and put starch in my spine. Thank you.

I Just Love Your Poem, But

maybe you could add an allusion, or
accentuate with more alliteration, or
insert a simile, mix in a metaphor, or
soften those spondee stresses.
Otherwise, it's really quite good, but you could
edit that enjambment, or
change it to a couplet, or
try it as a tercet.
Really it's okay, except for
that odious onomatopoeia, and
those putrid personifications.
Have you considered who will read you, or
even thought about the title?
Is it only for the cliche crowd who
don't worry about wordiness?
Perhaps it's past redemption or
ridiculous revisions.
Just put it out as is.
Some things can't be fixed

ok, I really don't care if you had a massive heart attack, I am being totally selfish in this respect, but after drinking a very good bottle of wine(with my adult children, one of the small graces of aging) I can honetly tell you, WE DEPEND ON YOUR BEING AROUND, which, I quess really means I will have to die first, SO if you think the next event is the big one, PLEASE alert me so I CAN KILL myself before anything really bad happens. Not that I am saying anything really bad will, But just a little HEADS UP on your part would be greatly appreciated. BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU. and I'm not even a democrat. I lean toward independent with a little bit of socialist luthern in there for commen sense.

Rhyme, yes,
in sonnet, too,
why even Ogden would
not gnash his teeth at you!

But, Garrison,
it is your snapper
that leaves me impressed
for it not only explains our “poetry,”
but why we are so poorly dressed!

Seriously, i once had an article in an IBM magazine in Japan explaining why people in hard science were the greatest supporters of rhyme – you need to include a rhyme-loving scientist in your show before you retire.

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