View Full Version : Why a rhyme should not be forced and meter should not be coerced

September 11th, 2016, 09:16 PM
I'm not a guru. I don't know much more than anyone else. This is something that I believe deeply though. Not all poetry rhymes or has meter. But if you're going to do it, do it right.

When we speak, we accent our words to fit their meaning and use. When we talk about a subject, we put the emphasis on the first syllable but when we subject someone to a rant about language, we stress the second syllable. This is important in writing rhythmic verse because we want to arrange the words such that the natural stresses from speaking them form a repeating pattern. The pattern can be simple or complex, the point is that the reader can feel and recognize it.

Hand-in-hand with rhythm is rhyme. Not all rhythmic verse rhymes but the vast majority does. This is traditional and the reason is, it's easy to remember. Poetry has a great oral tradition because of this.

But in order to be memorable and great, the poem needs to both sound good and make sense. This is where the idea of not forcing your rhymes comes from. I'm going to post a stanza of a poem and leave out some rhymes. See if you can figure out what goes there. You should be able to because the right words fit.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his ________;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet ________.

Maybe you didn't figure it was mail and unblown. But you probably didn't guess quail and trombone, either. Because those would have made no sense at all. Yet if someone couldn't think of mail to rhyme pale and only came up with quail they could rewrite that line to make something not-as-good. Something about how in his armor he'd quail, maybe. But you see the point. Fail might be a good next try. Or frail.

rhymezone.com is your friend. Don't get caught up in thinking you have to use a particular pair of words if you can't make a sensical pair of lines out of them. Sometimes rearranging the phrase gives you a more friendly word to rhyme with.

Remember that you're trying to communicate an idea and if you're torturing that idea, or the language, you're not doing it right.

September 11th, 2016, 09:25 PM
i read with interest.......

September 11th, 2016, 09:57 PM
For realsies, rhyming websites are best friend. It just helps add a little more... zest to things. It helps me make more than one syllable rhymes.

Olly Buckle
September 11th, 2016, 11:02 PM
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his sword
And the tents were all silent, apart from a wail,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unheard.

:) Sorry, couldn't resist.

I would mainly agree, Though I would say that, as with thesauruses, rhyming dictionaries are best used to remind you of words you already know when they are used in composition.

Changing the rhythm can be very effective, it doesnt have to be constant. look how it changes with effect in different parts of this;

Break, Break, Break
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

or consider Milton, where he describing the travels of fallen angels;
—O’er many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous;
O’er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp;
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death,
A universe of death.

'Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens' Six heavily stressed single syllable words in a row, three spondees (Lovely word that), quite a different rhythm with a weighty effect, introducing Death to Hell, it needs to be.

Olly Buckle
September 11th, 2016, 11:50 PM
Oops, meant to say about rhymes, if you can't rhyme the word it is easy to change it, look;

And there lay the rider distorted and pale
And there, distorted and pale, lay the rider
And the rider, distorted and pale, lay there
And the rider lay there, pale and distorted
And there, pale and distorted, the rider lay

That only leaves'and' and 'the'; getting them on the end might sound a bit forced, but with five choices one ought to be rhymable.