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Forum Home > Poetry > Tackling the Unseen

Neil Bowen
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Posts: 920

Some poets are word musicians, while others are closer to word painters. For the latter rhyme is probably a bit less important, no?

February 24, 2016 at 2:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Yes, if you're working in a traditional form like the villanelle, you have the rhyme scheme already arranged for you, so then which words rhyme with which will probably be the next question. Byron's Don Juan is full of polysyllabic rhyming words which are being used for comic effect. 

Sometimes, even in poems that don't use rhyme at the end of lines, and are in free verse, the line endings may use something in place of rhyme (such as semantic rhyme) - or there may be internal rhyme, mid-line.

February 24, 2016 at 2:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

What's a semantic rhyme?

February 24, 2016 at 2:27 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Yes, I think it does depend on whether the poem is designed principally to be read on the page or to be heard and read aloud. Ideally we should engage both eye and ear, but different poets have different views on this - many privilege one sense over the other, I think.

February 24, 2016 at 2:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

A semantic rhyme is when the words sounds don't chime together but their meanings do. (He says, trying desperately to think of any example from English poetry!)

February 24, 2016 at 2:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

The poet Glynn Maxwell classifies poems under the headings solar, lunar, musical and visual. It's his contention that the very best poems score highly in each of these dimensions.

February 24, 2016 at 2:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

For instance, if a poet ended two consecutive lines with, say, 'oceans' and 'sea', we might say that's a semantic rhyme - i.e. the words' meanings are working together, but not their sounds.

February 24, 2016 at 2:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

And the consistency with which the poet uses rhyme has an effect, such as moving in to half rhyme if the poem changes tone- maybe to convey uncertainty or discomfort.

February 24, 2016 at 2:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

That's an interesting system - and I think most poems do lend themselves to a combination of different elements. What does he mean by 'solar' and 'lunar'? That's an intriguing classification.

February 24, 2016 at 2:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Hope at February 24, 2016 at 2:31 PM

And the consistency with which the poet uses rhyme has an effect, such as moving in to half rhyme if the poem changes tone- maybe to convey uncertainty or discomfort.

Yes, good point, Hope - rhyme sets up a pattern. So deviations from the pattern are likely to be especially significant. 

February 24, 2016 at 2:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Oliver Tearle at February 24, 2016 at 2:33 PM

That's an interesting system - and I think most poems do lend themselves to a combination of different elements. What does he mean by 'solar' and 'lunar'? That's an intriguing classification.

Solar are poems that are immediately striking, that take the top of your head off, are dramatic. Like spoken word and slam poems. Lunar are mysterious ones that take a bit more working out. The sort of poems that continue to haunt your imagination after reading them.

February 24, 2016 at 2:34 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

I think that's a great point about uncertainty or discomfort. It must be one of the chief reasons why many war poets (Owen, though not just him) use half-rhyme in so much of their poetry.

Repetition as rhyme, I think, conveys a sense of stasis or paralysis - e.g. the so many/so many 'rhyme' in Eliot's The Waste Land, 'A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, / I had not thought death had undone so many'. He cannot get beyond the sheer horror of it: it transfixes him.

February 24, 2016 at 2:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

That's interesting - especially as Maxwell believes many good poems are both solar and lunar. Viscerally affecting on first reading, but increasingly thought-provoking on subsequent readings.

February 24, 2016 at 2:36 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Is there a particular scheme Armitage uses to govern his rhymes in Chainsaw, or do they crop up randomly? 

February 24, 2016 at 2:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

These are some excellent ideas, so perhaps we should bear these in mind as we turn to Armitage for the second part. What does everyone make of it?

February 24, 2016 at 2:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Armitage's poem is a good case in point: it doesn't use conventional rhyme, so what's going on at the ends of the lines?

February 24, 2016 at 2:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

I think it's an interesting choice of subject, because he's describing an activity that isn't very poetic in a conventional sense. 

February 24, 2016 at 2:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

And does this change at any point? I.e. does it appear to approach traditional rhyme in any section of the poem?

February 24, 2016 at 2:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

There are some end-rhymes - swung/hung, together/trigger...

February 24, 2016 at 2:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

The rhyme also seems to reflect this unconventionality. It isn't a 'typical' poem in any sense. 

February 24, 2016 at 2:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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