Of rhyme & reason No1- both short & long feet skip the line

Of rhyme & reason No1- both short & long feet skip the line

I

i recently sent a sample of my juvenilia to a blogger particularly interested in my poetry. For this reason i thought the person in question might be intrigued to read my early poems. i am not interested in any flattery for my old poems, they served a purpose at the time: my juvenilia is largely written in formal, traditional poetic meters. For this reason, aforementioned blogger in question, recommended i write something on traditional forms. i was hesitant at first, however, i started to coagulate thoughts & as they curdled more n’ more i figured why not take it as a challenge & plunge the mind into the idea utterly.
The majority, perhaps all of my juvenilia is essentially my working out of techniques, the mechanics of poetry. i’d liken it to showing how you calculated a sum in a margin. i had a conversation with a lecturer once after class which went something like

juvenile me: How should I go about becoming a good poet, like Berryman or Roethke?

lecturer: Well… you really need to understand the formalities & technicalities of poetry. The great poets didn’t break rules until they knew exactly what the rules were. You need to know the nuts & bolts of poems, you have to pick them apart & work your way from the inside out.

juvenile me: What do you recommend i do?

lecturer: Study the Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry & Poetics & read tons of poetry & anything else relevant.

So i went off & bought the Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry & Poetics, an old hardback published by McGraw Hill, i think. An austere looking text, gloomy & impenetrable, almost crenellate, with turrets & flags & armed patrols. i combed through it, read at random, wherever the page fell open when i flipped its pages. i slept with my favorite poets under my pillow hoping they’ll infiltrate my dreams with lessons or advice.
After i’d become acquainted with the chronology & feel of the goliath book, i started to pick forms & attempt them. my only themes came from learning back then, from the religious texts, philosophy, anthropology, poetry, psychology & sociology i saturated myself in trying to find some secret knowledge i believed existed, somewhere in the back beyond of my Self. i never wrote about my perceptions or experiences directly, which seemed too easy, to-hand. So i persisted in a naïve & pseudo-classical frame of reference, as if i contained a buried key that would unlock the cornucopia of the universe, somewhere in my head. Daft as i thought, it gave me plenty to be writing & at least some of the work to being a better poet was drafted out by my curiosity.

II

History lesson out the way, i want to crack on with examining one of these old poems of mine to hopefully illustrate what practical benefits learning traditional poetic forms has for the poet writing today.
First of all, i want to make a few things clear. i am no authority, i moreover have no authority on poetry other than a decade of reading & writing, which i believe stands for something. However, others from advanced academic backgrounds might think otherwise. i do not have a library to-hand, i live quite remote from such pleasures on an island thousands of miles from home & am at the mercy of my mind’s elasticity, about as pliable as a pair of swimming trunks. If anyone has a quarrel with my ideas, there is a comment section below, criticism is encouraged so i might learn something.
i have never read books on technique by an author with expertise & though i am sure there are many useful & well written texts out there, i personally cannot learn poetry from such a source; but that isn’t to say they are useless or that it is pointless if someone (such as myself) writes something on the subject. This is not a manifesto or an aim to have the final word but a semi-formal (maybe even quasi-formal) example of my ideas on the subject as best as i can articulate them. i don’t want to write an academic paper so i will not quote from anything, this is personal opining, experiential & potentially flawed- all too human.
Second, i have chosen to unravel a poem i wrote, because i know it, i know why i made certain choices & i think control is something the poet has to have when crafting a poem- i will speak more about this later. If i chose a famous poem, i can only conjecture reasons for something, whereas with my own poem, i am at liberty to explain in great detail the exact method & thought process; the fault lines & improvements.
Thirdly, the poem i am going to use is a poem i dislike, hate even, i hope i never write one like this again; a poem i would be embarrassed about were it of no use to me, fortunate for it, it has purpose.
Finally, this is going to be a series of essays as i think to dump one long essay on here may bore people to tears, or in the worst case scenario i have envisioned, the taking of their own lives.

III

The poem is called Vino in Veritas & i wrote it while engrossed in Ovid’s Metamorphosis about 6 years ago. i wrote it in the first year i came to Korea. At that time i was living alone in a remote, northern town, where an American army base is situated. In hindsight, i regret not grasping the opportunity to write about the troops’ behavior, their kicks from liquor & Filipino dancers on The Strip of dingy clubs, erected especially for their entertainment. i knew no one nor any Korean; so spent my time studying & writing, engaged in more enlightened themes.
Ovid has been a continual influence on poets. His description of transformation moment to moment, as a character becomes an object or animal, absorb us & if reaching for poet-hood you’ll probably, at some point, see it as a challenge to write about transformations of one thing into another. The alchemy of it is too inviting to ignore. We are obsessed with change, we may fear or embrace it; regardless our position, it is constantly happening to us & around us.
The poem is spoken by a narrator, an aged Bacchanal who speaks to us from the present & recounts the anecdote of how he first came to meet Bacchus in the remote, ancient past. It is implied that he has lived many thousands of years by faith alone in Bacchus & the daily habit of drinking the wine of life, a Merlot or Sauvignon perhaps. The one ambivalence of the poem is whether to believe he is an immortal or a quack, something unresolved.

Vino in Veritas! Vino in Veritas!

Vino in veritas! Vino in veritas!
The grapes of truth have launched me to this lonely age,
i’ve witnessed Bacchus’s blood blasphemed at Catholic mass.

Refuse I, lying horizontal in my cage,
to repent my servitude to him who held no sword
aloft to glean men’s praise, nor humoured himself doge.

As a young man, my chest plumed broad, I met with side
of swollen axe, the lofty hinds of ancient oaks;
brought them bashing down to ground with sole whimpered chord.

Inclemency he firmly kempt for those who crook
his Cithaeron of its bark treasure to smother kings,
with tailored furniture and libraries amok.

His revellers branching among us trumpeting with clang
of tambourines, bone-horns; drunken with a wide hurt
our hacking axes filled with birth; I began to beg

when I beheld his pulchritude: enamelled dart
distracted by his natural thoughts, swaddled in grapes
of life, love, music; unalloyed in his apt heart.

I warned we lumber plunderers: beyond those lips
a god’s blood glides, it would be sensible to pray
forgiveness for our ignorance, so our hearts don’t stop!

My humble-lumber-birth forbade formality,
he knew I knew my wrong, in that i had belief
& would forgive us long as we choired threnodies.

Hermetically he seals the O within itself:
the vivum argentum O psyches prize as high as gold;
one must unbuckle limp personae’s guise for proof.

Their aplomb pride wore like a charm and ailing greed
were gimleted into their magpie smirks. Tendrils
of thorn-edged-vine burst from his finger tips and sped

about their throats till their tough countenance did pall,
their mortal gain diverted to atone their shame:
his unshod feet pressed lightly upon hilts of gale

winds strewing dandelion children through his thumb
chub gamboling forest of hair, both sword and ghostly stair
that wind; the trust of creatures, by his love became.

His vine wrapped round their organs to the strum of lyre,
he changed their blood to sap, their muscular limbs to bark;
what waste they’d caused they now became, slaves to nature.

His ancientness concealed in-boy began to speak
within my chest without an uttered syllable;
my guilt I would un-wound as reveller of twin snakes.

IV

For those with a trained ear & eye they will first of all note the poem is written in terza rima, an Italian form usually attributed to Dante. Next, the line scansion will be determined either by counting the syllables or if the reader’s sensitivity to meter is acute, feel the rhythm of the beats & discover it is written in hexameters, which is a single line composed of 6 beats or feet.
For those unacquainted with the poetic line it is made of beats or feet. Some people, i think, erroneously count the syllables, but this doesn’t account for trisyllablic beats such as the anapestic (da da dum) or dactylic (dum da da) measure. A hexameter is not necessarily composed of iambic (da dum) or trochaic (dum da) feet. As i will illustrate the line can be composed of these feet in innumerable variations depending on the poet’s intention for nuance & effect.

i chose terza rima as it seemed the obvious choice for a classical subject, of course Ovid being a Roman & the form being linked to Italian poetry, so it was a no brainer. The choice of hexameters is more complex & leads us into the nuances of traditional meter.
The hexameter is obviously a longer line than the pentameter, which is 5 beats. i required a longer line to reflect the train of Bacchanals accompanying Bacchus when they arrive to punish the lumberjacks. i could have gone for heptameter or 7 beats, but felt that not traditional enough, heptameter seldom used. The longer line also reflects the attack Bacchus uses to stop the men refusing to repent for felling the trees, which belong to his father, Zeus. & finally the long life the narrator has lived.
i did not choose to end the poem with the usual envoi of a couplet, as i wanted to convey the immortality of the narrator, the pattern of his habit that has brought him to the present from the remote past & will carry him into a distant future. The terza rima, being a pattern, with rhythms being carried over, suggestive to me of habit, pattern & motif.
So by choosing this line i have reinforced images, actions & consequences within the poem. Why is this important? You could & would have perfectly reasonable grounds to argue it doesn’t.
What it does is show artifice, a mark of the poet’s control over their craft that they have designed the architecture of the form to be in harmony with the function. In architecture balance is very important; the spirit level is an integral tool for the craftsman, without which, balance is difficult to achieve; without balance the building is liable to be wonky, the table crooked, the books end up sliding from the bookshelf. Balance is a matter of beauty as well as stability.
The subtlety can be taken further.

ReFUSE / i LY / ing HOR / iZON / tal IN / my CAGE

This line is written in iambic hexameter. It has a solid driving melody that moves the narrative forward. The next line

to rePENT / my SERV / iTUDE / to HIM / who HELD / no SWORD

is evidently slightly different: the first beat is three syllables, two unstressed & a stressed syllable (da da dum), an anapest & seems to skip, as if the narrator has tripped or perhaps dropped to his knees. my intention was to slow the pace, to bring the narrator to his knees, to separate him from the stubborn lumberjacks.
i don’t believe i did a very good job of expressing that nuance: i should have started the first beat with two spondees, two words each a long syllable (dum dum). That would have brought the pace of the line to standstill. i was & still do not possess skill enough to alter the line in this way. The 2nd line needs to begin with ‘to’ so it makes using a spondee difficult. i would have to completely rewrite the first clause to allow me to use a spondee in the second clause, which is burdensome . i could have disregarded this endeavor completely, it is superfluous & has little effect on the reader.

One line in the poem does successfully achieve harmony between form & function, it is

BROUGHT them / BASHing / DOWN to / GROUND with / SOLE whim / pered Chord

which is written using trochees, a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable, which gives the line a quality of falling, & of course the line articulates the felling of trees. The final beat returns to an iamb, it rises like the sound of the tree crashing. Here the untrained ear may not realize that they are invited to read the fall as the natural way of reading it is descending. The line is spacious with only 2 disyllabic words each making a beat themselves, the rest mono syllabic so that the reader peaks & troughs like a sound wave.

V

These examples hopefully illustrate both an attempt to create harmony between form & function & a success. The line is pliable of course, especially now that free verse has become the dominant form for poets. i would say quite rightly so too: the nuances of free verse are multiple & more personal. The freedom of the line limits, in my opinion, such awkward mistakes as i made in the line beginning ‘to repent…’
To succeed in being ornate is wonderful, but like bad comedy, to get it wrong, though it may go unnoticed by the reader, as the writer you notice, it niggles you. You can’t unlearn your sensitivity to the rhythm of a metrical poem & you have to remedy it & if nothing appears to remedy the line, you sometimes need to move forward & be content with what you have, unsatisfied or no.
You may write metrically sound poetry, the artifice harmonious & ornate to the trained ear, but if abstract or abstruse to deeply you may end up alienating your poems from even the trained ear.
You take a risk: explaining the metrical nuances is like explaining a joke, it loses something from pointing out the punchline. Directness can be more effective & free verse offers this. It seems to be more suited to the modern ear, it invites them to be on charted ground rather than in an aloof & stuffy world of rigid forms.
Though metrical poetry isn’t instantly gratifying, knowing it does add to the enjoyment of reading & writing poetry. It adds dimensions to a poem. When it comes to freeing yourself from its constraints there is little stopping you, you know the exit as you came in through it; it is the same as the entrance. The techniques over time become unconscious & just as you never lose your rhythm if a musician, so you never lose it as a poet who understands traditional methods. A musician should know all the notes, the bum ones & the harmonious ones; you never know when you might need one or the other. You have to find a balance between surprise, creativity & readability.
At the time i wrote this i was pleased, this was the best i could do. i was proud to have written a poem in such a complicated form. Reading it many years later it looks stiff & awkward, because i can see exactly what i would write now, with a slacker line & less constrained by faux classical devotion to tradition & formality. In an up-coming post i will re-write the poem how i would approach it now & try to show how the traditional forms infiltrate or are naturally present even when i am not consciously intending to write with them.

In the next essay i will primarily focus on the rhyming words themselves, explain the reasons for them & how i approached rhyme to create harmony between form & function & most importantly tried to be creative with rhyme to challenge the expectation of the reader.

If you want to discuss anything, your experiences of studying poetics, successes or failures, reasons for their value of uselessness, your criticisms of my approach, absolutely anything, please don’t hesitate, i love talking about the more boring aspects of poetry.

34 Comments Add yours

  1. I am not sure why you don’t like these. They may be young stabs at old venison, but there is grace in the carving! 🙂

    1. Thank you Daniel. They simply lack emotional honesty & lean to much on aesthetics & pursue a line of inquiry i have since felt to be erroneous.

    2. Bonsai says:

      So I take it you pay attention to form most of the time? Just curious.

      1. not exactly. in the last post of this series i explain how learning the techniques of traditional poetic forms has enabled me to habitually write musically (in form) without having to wrestle the poems into form. what happens is a balance then between automatic, free expression & form. the melody comes out organically. form doesn’t mean a certain language, or set of words, but a rhythm.

      2. Bonsai says:

        I see. How important do you believe form to be?

      3. very. it is never a hindrance to a serious poet. sure you can write good poems without it, but having it to hand is immensely helpful for subtlety, for density & for musicality. it also improves your reading pleasure, like someone who has perfect pitch can understand why a musician might choose a certain chord or scale in a passage of music, when reading you can begin to see why certain rhythms match the function of the poem.
        i don’t deny many good poets write without it, but you’ll find if you think of your favorite poet & were to ask them if they know about form they’ll say yes, if asked whether they use it, they may say no, but i’d argue it has become habitual, it is a part of their work & maybe they don’t even realize it.

      4. Bonsai says:

        Thank you for this answer. I studied the forms at one point but never thought I’d need them. Arigato!

      5. i would say that while learning them you don’t need them for your own work, you need them in your personal notebook, like sketches— & continue to write in the way you do now. let the techniques seep in unannounced over time.

      6. I come from the realm of free improvisation in music, in which true freedom is not throwing out rules but exploring all the rules possible, even imaginary ones. Plus, I thinking “forming” is the best “form” for me. I practice music seriously but approach performance like Japanese archers do. The is drawing the bow in a state of grace, not actual hitting the target.

        This is related to a key word in Japanese culture: mushotoku. It means “without receiving a salary” but is a Buddhist metaphor for perfecting a process without worrying about the results. Thus if you practice drawing the bow perfectly, the arrow’s flight is an expression of your mindset. I have seen master archers shoot and miss the bullseye, but was profoundly moved by how they missed! So form is a word that cannot capture what I experience in forming. and their results.

        But J.S. Bach demonstrated in his piano works, and especially in the Prelude of the 3rd solo cello suite, how form can feel/be deeply profound… so that is great too! 🙂

  2. This essay is most excellent, you have surpassed expectations. So glad to see this poem have not just its time in the spotlight, but also serve an important educational function. A brilliant series!

    1. There’ll be more. I should thank you for setting me the task.

      1. I thank you for writing it, it is always a brilliant occasion to see such intricate mental processes and technical knowledge finally receive daylight.

        In the past, there was Marlowe’s mighty line, in a few years, perhaps people will be praising Marshall’s marvelous verse!

      2. Fingers crossed Brian.

  3. Also, the Many Roads Buddhist magazine is searching for contributors. They are a Buddhist magazine and have already agreed to use some of my work.

    If you have anything suitable, consider contributing:

    http://bodhicharya.org/manyroads/message-to-all/

    1. I’ll have a look tomorrow thanks.

      1. Thanks, they really need the contributions, and your high quality poetry is especially important!

  4. Tim Miller says:

    Daniel, this is good stuff. I liked hearing the story of the lecturer; seeing as you ended up in Jeju it’s appropriate that the guy set you off with the Princeton book & told you just to read; you wanted to be a poet not an academic, & that means more isolation than lectures.

    My version of this was over the past few years going through the Penguin Classics Renaissance, Metaphysical, Romantic & Victorian anthologies. It was helpful to see that even some of the best of these formal poems are dead on the page, the meter is all obvious & rarely varied & you get to the end before the line does; but to my surprise, all the excerpts from Spenser were a rollicking good time, his rhyme & formality were never dull & always seemed unexpected. Ditto with John Donne, or Keats. It is so immensely difficult to do that, & reading those anthologies it was heartening to see how few people have. You don’t feel so bad about yr own poems, at that point.

    I wonder if you’ll tackle blank verse at some point, since as you know there’s nobody like Milton; & for me there’s no one like the best of Wordsworth. The possibility of blank verse seems to be a good compromise to try nowadays, since rhyme seems to sound so off in good poetry anymore, you immediately raise an eyebrow. Something like blank verse–I’m thinking something like Tennyson too, his Ulysses–has the chance of being personal & powerful, & raising everyday language (even our internet texting language) just slightly to something rhetorical & powerful, something familiar but new.

    What you have to ask yourself is, & I hope is what we’ll see in the rewritten Bacchus, is the formal poem inherently better than the free one, just for the discipline? I would guess not. Many of your Jeju poems, & all the way out to Whitman, prove that, the power of the lone lines, constant variation, instinctual rhythm. After reading a book about blank verse, it was nice to just see the guy saying, “Look, just take Shakespeare & Wallace Stevens, they both were great at strict blank verse iambic pentameter, but as they went on they both slackened the line, had more feminine endings, had more & more variation, but none of that work is any less than the earlier.” & there’s the story of Robert Lowell, being led into more free forms by reading his formal poems aloud, & actually editing them at public readings, adding words & syllables, trusting his ear. Auden said somewhere only someone with a perfect ear can do free verse, which I assume he means nobody since nobody has that, but that strikes me as BS. I agree with Eliot more, saying something like, “If the poem works, has power & rhythm, it isn’t free verse, it just has its own inherent formality; only the sloppiest & worst of poems are actually ‘free,’ since the form wasn’t found, probably wasn’t sought.'”

    All right, this comment is long enough! But you prompted me well.

    1. Thanks for the informed reply Tim, i didn’t know Lowell riffed on his poems in readings, that makes me see him in a different light & that light is a good one. i think Lowell is a brilliant rhymster, rhyme seems to intensify him, he becomes abstruse, but as we are always hooked into his historical, autobiographical mode, we have some sure footing. I think Lord Weary’s Castle & the Mills of the Kavanaugh is astounding.
      My reason for using the Princeton Encyclopaedia was because it acted as a sort of lecturer, it contained no poems as such, but only examples, the rest was pure explanation of modes of operation, which was somewhat different to leaving myself to pick out the music without a guide; i suppose i’d liken it to musical training.
      Do you recall the Two Thespians poem, that is written in a slightly looser blank verse. i gave myself some room as i realized i’d be setting out on a long haul. the lines tend to vary between iamb, hexameter or hendecasyllables, which is what Eliot used in his bulkier passages of the Waste Land, a 1/2 foot tagged on an iamb. i think the difficulty of such an undertaking & the uneasiness of it must have been attractive to such a master.
      i suppose blank verse would be the happy medium, so it would seem. but all the really do is remove the end rhyme, you are still in mind of feet to compose the line, & the feet should be regular, either iamb, hexameter or heptameter or some such. Steven wrote Comedian as Letter C in blank verse, though he would stray from the largely used meter he enforced for the poem.
      As for reading, i would have to be washed with a sense that the poet was worth my time. i am quite fickle, i have to be instantly gratified before giving my time; if i hadn’t opened Yeats’ Complete Works at Responsibilities, the book Pound edited, & had rather opened it at an early book of his light verse, i’d maybe never have read Yeats much, i still don’t like a large part of his work. Only when he approached rhyme in radically new ways can i read him.
      You are absolutely correct about how difficult formality & rhyme& being unexpected is, so few achieve it to my mind. Dylan Thomas is a rare talent. Blake uses the trochee to great effect, the opening of Song of Innocence is trochaic, the PIPing DOWN the VALLeys WILD & genius he was tags a 1/2 risen foot at the end so that we skip down that valley, utterly masterful. Manley Hopkins taught me a great deal about rhyme, he may be charged for being abstruse or even non sensical as i have read somewhere, but that man gives me goosepimples every time i read him.
      But i think i have learnt that trusting the ear as you say, is important, perhaps the most important point, but i don’t think this can always be relied up if you did not train yourself in craft, because how do you stop from falling in the trap of thinking you have written well, when in fact you haven’t?
      Few people are capable of harsh, self-criticism, i am fortunate in this. i learned from my father to learn to do something properly before sharing it & perhaps embarrassing yourself; this may seem harsh, but it means you work & correct & consider far more.

      1. robert okaji says:

        I like what Tim said – “you wanted to be a poet not an academic.” Years ago, I asked a poetry professor his opinion on MFA programs. He said “You don’t need a degree to write poetry.” I was not a highly motivated student, and this made sense to me. So I slogged along, picking up bits and pieces of technique and knowledge, emulating some poets to try to understand them better.

        Regarding form – I love working with the constraints of the sonnet form, but rarely do I use iambic rhythm in these pieces, as it sounds forced. Instead I use a “colloquial” line, following the rhyme scheme, but hiding it with phrasing and enjambment. You might consider this subverting the form, and I suppose it is, but the sound pleases me.

      2. it seems to me the MFA or poetry higher education malarkey, though for some is a way to learn poetry, although i think if you are going to invest that sort of money you must already have a reasonable foundation of knowledge about poetry, is really more about setting aside, within your life, ample time to just concentrate on poetry. from this you also have the opportunity to meet people & form groups of people & also to be seen as someone absolutely invested in poetry: it troubles me that many journals & mags seem to favour MFA students, simply because it is a badge of dedication, when those of us who do our job & then go home to study & write in our spare time, must find some alternative way to show our dedication, when the poetry should be enough. i may have this wrong, but when i read bios, i seem to see a lot of MFA’s & academics. given the option i’d do one, if only to make poetry my profession. i wouldn’t mind making my life completely about poetry, if i am being honest. but then my purpose would be the setting of time aside, the use of a library, forming relationships, i don’t want someone telling me how to write poetry out of a curriculum. though i would certainly give them my ears.

        i think pentameter must be well practiced to not sound ‘forced’. i use it a lot, but i never think about it anymore. the rhythm just comes out like that organically now. i know where i don’t use it & if i need to force it, i will leave the line metrically unstable & let it speak for itself based on the words & function.

        i’d like to see more of your sonnets. perhaps you might rummage a few out & do a series of Okaji’s Sonnets for us? i think i’ve read one, if memory serves.

      3. robert okaji says:

        I don’t know that publications prefer the degreed MFA poets, but the sheer number of them writing and submitting work is incredible. We non-program poets are outnumbered, and we lack the networking possibilities inherent in these programs. Still, publication possibilities abound for us, too. Persistence and patience are the keys. More persistence than patience. 🙂

  5. So glad I read this, Daniel. There is a lot to think about- I can deal with syllables, but the beats and meters got me confused. I think I have a sense of what you mean, mainly from my out-loud reading to my son, certain words combinations of words lend themselves to a nice rhythm when read, and that quality is often what makes me like or dislike a story (I’m talking children’s books here). Looking forward to reading the next two essays, and I intend to go look up some of what you mentioned unless you want to add a little ‘beats for dummies’ in a reply here. Oh, and having started and stopped essay iii to go back to the beginning, I can say the revised poem definately drew me in. This one had my eyes glazing over and my brain churning a little too quickly trying to piece together meaning and losing flow- but much respect for what you have done and how you have given us a behind the scenes look at its creation.

    1. wow ‘beats for dummies’ basically a beat is da (unstressed) DUM (stressed) so ‘a BEAT’ is itself a beat. the usual line of most traditional poems, say, Shakespeare’s sonnets, is 5 of these beats which is called iambic pentameter ‘iamb’ meaning unstressed / stressed as the word itself is & i am sure you understand pentameter is 5 meters, or beats. so that sounds like this da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM or to borrow from Robert Lowell’s ‘Mr Edwards and the spider’ (which i happen to have before me) i SAW the SPIDers MARCHing THROUGH the AIR.
      in my first version i use iambic hexameter, which is just 6 beats of da DUM.
      it gets complicated when you start bringing in trochees (a backwards iamb) or anapaest (da da DUM) or dactyl (DUM da da). the beat is basically the what the stave is to music, upon which music is written. it is the melody of a poem.
      my point is to illustrate that by learning it, it becomes habit forming in your writing, you will use it, largely with impulse. however, i show through the contrasting poems the difference in quality between conscious attention to the metrical (beats) structure & being free from that attention because it is habitual & gives you freedom to think on more dimension about what you want your poem to do.
      hope that helps.

      1. Yes! that helps hugely! Thanks-this will be useful for me to add poetry to my prose. Plenty of food for thought. “…’a Beat’ is itself a beat” 🙂 I see what you mean about it being habitual, as I have seen that happen to me with syllable count for haiku and tanka- seems to happen without a lot of conscious thought. Thanks again.

      2. My pleasure. You’ll read everything in beats soon enough.

  6. robert okaji says:

    Reblogged this on O at the Edges and commented:
    Using one of his early pieces, Daniel Paul Marshall discusses the nuts and bolts of poetry, and the importance of reading and studying what’s been done. A fascinating, insightful piece.

    1. Thanks Robert. I worked hard on these so i really appreciate the extra reach.

      1. robert okaji says:

        It was my pleasure, Daniel. Newer poets need to read this.

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