Monday, October 3, 2011

Something of a History of English Poetry from the Dark Ages to Today

We think of poetry as rhyme,
Similarity ending every line,
As if this was the will of God.
Yes, it’s true I see you nod.

But no it is not in the history of our talk.
Early erudite scribers did not end English
Verse with varied vocabulary
Of sounds of similarity

It probably was not from purity.
Spelling Old English was enough a task.
At some point some poet arrived
Who took a stab and rhyming tried,
But like here resulted in feeble rime
And left it ‘til Chaucer shuffled by.

Yes, similar syllables he did not eschew
Ah, Chaucer knew his way around a rime or two,
Perhaps his forms were his own and new,
As he spread his rhymes through and through
In complex patterns that ring true
To ears raised on the Romantic lines
From Byron, Keats and Shelley’s times.

Though I came to poetry through the proclivities of Poe,
Embracing the spacing of rhythm and rhyme
I’ve watched the full circle back to non-ringing ends,
Probably owing some knowing of Walt Whitman
And the blue-collar
Bellow and blast of Sandburg,
the dropping of propriety proper by cummings
Or the Howls of the Beats, Bukowski and such,
And a love of it all. In my life I have gathered,
If it communicated, rhyme or not hasn’t mattered.

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