Eric Paul Shaffer
(6/30/2005 10:29:00 PM)
Lazy poets are never in short supply, and if one insists on drawing that line between them, there are plenty of lazy poets who write rhyme and plenty who write free verse.
There is no way, really, to determine which group has the greater number of lazy poets; however, there is one observation that I would like to make about distinguishing rhymers from free-verse writers.
Those who choose to write in rhyme rarely know more about the mechanics of rhyme than they can learn from nursery rhymes, pop songs, advertising jingles, and greeting cards.
For me, this is the main drawback of rhyme: it sucks in the unskilled and the unread in greater numbers than free verse ever could.
Rhyme is NOT easy. Even a quick glance at Robert Frost, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Edgar Allan Poe, the Schoolhouse Poets, and even Sara Teasdale, proves that.
Yet some poets with little knowledge and less learning leap into rhyme just because they remember a few lines about Jack Horner.
There is no such attraction in free verse. When you write lousy lines of free verse, they are nakedly, shamefully bad, and anyone can see it.
As a result, I tend to hope that poets carefully tack around that black whirlpool of rhyme until they've read much and know more about what is possible, what's been done, and what the directions are.
No matter which method one chooses, however, we need to remember that a poem is not successful because of its form or lack thereof. A poem is successful when it communicates, and the audience, or the lack thereof, will tell you how well you do that.