A Vendetta Against Rhyming

So you remember when you were in grade school first learning about poems? It was all about rhyming. “Poems rhyme.” my teachers liked to tell me. Then they’d give us an assignment to write our own poems where gems like this:

One night when I was asleep

Something scared me so I went meep

And then there was a little sheep

Who soothed me back to sleep.

 

Award winning stuff that is. So yes, I freely admit that I have a deep hatred of rhyming poetry. This is not to say that I hate all rhymes in poetry, or that all rhyming poetry is bad. It is not my cup of tea at all.

This is probably very related to the fact that free verse has become the standard for poetry and many publications now actually say ‘We do not accept rhyming poems.’ I think that these stipulations have become common place because so many new poets using the rule ‘rhyme every line’ to create a poem.

This leads to a poem that feels and is incredibly forced. Instead of the poem flowing naturally, it is forced into a very limited word choice which narrows the scope. While I think you can rhyme without falling into this ‘forced’ feel, I have not been able to master.

Now, as said, I do not much care for rhymed poems, especially those that do rhyme every line. However, I respect people who can pull off a rhyme without it coming across as obvious or immature. Emily Dickinson is a poet whose work I admire, and she uses both exact and slant rhyme in her own work.

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

Her rhymes are more mature than my pre-school attempts at poetry. Her rhymes flow naturally and don’t feel  forced.

So, what are your thoughts on rhyming poetry? 
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5 Comments »

  1. randallweiss Said:

    After years of chanting (silently), “Free Verse For the Win!” I now realize how close-minded I was. I still prefer free verse, but insisting on not rhyming is as limiting as insisting on rhyme. My current thought is that rhyme is a rhetorical device and should be treated as such. It has its place, and we should be open to finding it there.

    Aparently I chant Internet memes…

    • Not internet memes!
      We’ve just started to study Frost and his use of rhymes is so subtle and natural that it gives me hope for rhymes in the future.

  2. Eric Said:

    If it doesn’t rhyme, they call it “prose” instead. Rhyming is over-valued, to be sure.

  3. Laura W. Said:

    I love rhyming poems that are done well. Mainly because of the way they sound when read aloud. I’m a sucker for the sound of, well, anything, haha. For example: a lot of people dislike Poe because he rhymes so much, but I love Poe because his rhymes give his ballads such a creepily repetitive sound/rhythm.

    Free verse is nice in that it gives you more freedom to play with the way the poem *looks* (equally or more important than sound, depending on what you’re going for). In the end I think you have to ask, what purpose does the [insert device] serve the poem? Does it add or detract from what you’re trying to say and how you say it? Rhyme is no different.


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