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Xelam Kan Xelam Kan Male, 96, Pakistan (11/7/2013 8:55:00 AM)

VERSE by John Barr

Verse, I have come to think, is poetry written in pursuit of limited objectives: to entertain us with a joke or tall tale, to give us the inherent pleasures of meter and rhyme. It is not great art, nor is it trying to be. Verse, as Orwell says, tells us something we already know—as often as not something we know we already know. Verse is not an instrument of exploration, but rather a tool of affirmation. Its rewards lie not in the excitements of discovery, but in the pleasures of encountering the familiar. Writers of verse have done their job when they make lines that conform to the chosen meter—and do not go beyond it. Frost’s notion, “The possibilities for tune from dramatic tones of meaning struck across the rigidity of a limited meter are endless, ” is unvisited territory. Verse does not seek to know the unknown or to express the unexpected, nor does it undertake the risk of failure that both entail.

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  • Freshman - 644 Points Jefferson Carter (11/7/2013 11:59:00 AM) Post reply
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    This is just stupid prejudice and obfuscation. If we're going to dismiss " verse" as meaning second-rate poetry, we've lost the one clear distinction between poetry and prose: form. Mr. Barr seems to be dismissing all formal poetry by labeling it mere verse (Writers of verse have done their job when they make lines that conform to the chosen meter.) For him, verse becomes poetry only when it is good. This makes no sense.

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