Tag Archives: To rhyme or not

Editors “hate rhyming poetry”

“Editors hate rhyming poetry. Or do they? Rhyme has become something of a sore subject in the world of contemporary poetry, but to many poetry editors, there’s good reason for the shift. A number of writers who work in rhyme have yet to distinguish between the nursery rhymes of childhood and more adult types of verse. Recollections of the fun, frilly words that cheered and delighted us as children may be the reason editors tend to avoid rhyming poems”. (See https://writersrelief.com/2010/07/12/rhyming-poetry-dos-donts-and-definitions/).

The above is an interesting article. Whilst I agree that some modern rhyming poetry is child-like in nature, I have also seen free verse poetry of which the same could be said. Also, it should be pointed out that there is nothing wrong with child-like rhyming poetry, indeed both Edward Lear and Louis Carroll wrote some wonderful poems aimed at children, which are very much enjoyed by youngsters and adults alike to this day.

Much of my own work (for example that contained in my “Selected Poems”, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/) rhymes.

I have, however, always been of the view that just as one should not put a size 10 foot into a size 9 shoe, (as to do so risks mangling the foot), that to compel a rhyme where no rhyme should properly be is to mangle poetry.

You can find an example of my own rhyming poetry, a poem entitled “Raining” below. As always I would be interested in the views of my readers on this post and the above linked to article.

Raining:

I awoke to the rain

Drumming on my window pane.

Opening my lattice, I let it in:

The purifying water that washes away sin.

The hypnotic sound

Of rain falling all around.

All my life, I have listened to the rain.

The same drumming

Of water coming

From the sky

Falling on you and I.

The rain has no end;

But you and I, my friend,

May listen for a while,

Smile,

Then pass on by.

Disdain for Rhyme

A couple of days ago, I was sitting at my desk trying to compose a poem in rhyme. My rhyming muse had deserted me, consequently I experimented with free verse. My muse still refused to play so, in frustration I turned off my computer and went to bed.

My inability to compose in either rhyme or free verse may have stemmed, in part at least from my need for sleep. However, come the morning my rhyming muse perched upon my shoulder and I was able to pen a rhyming poem with which I was happy.

As those of you who read my poetry on a regular basis will know, my preference is for rhyme. This is both because I find rhyme intrinsically beautiful, and due to rhyme coming naturally to me whilst, generally speaking, free verse does not. There is much great poetry written in free verse, its simply that, on the whole I prefer reading and writing rhyming poetry.

My muse refusing to play reminded me of the following response I received from a reviewer when I contacted them asking whether they would be interested in reviewing one of my books:

“I took a quick look at your site and at the reviews your book has on Goodreads. You’ve got a talent for rhyming. Unfortunately, I prefer to read free verse
and if I were you review your collection, my disdain for constant rhyming would bias my review”.

I was grateful for the response (as not all reviewers do respond to requests for reviews). In addition, I appreciated the honesty of the reply. We all have our preferences, mine is for rhyming poetry, whilst the reviewer’s is for free verse. As to whether my poems utilise constant rhyming, as the poet, I am probably not the best person to answer that question. However what I will say is this, I believe that whilst the best rhyming poetry is intrinsically beautiful, there is no point in marring a good composition by forcing a rhyme where no rhyme should properly be. It is not wise to force a size 10 foot into a size 9 shoe. One can do so however the foot risks being mangled as does the poem. Sometimes its right that parts of a poem rhyme whilst other sections do not. I am by no means a purist in such matters.

I have heard the view expressed that rhyming is somehow lazy as its easier to compose in rhyme than it is to use free or blank verse. I beg to differ. Whilst the best free verse poetry is a pleasure to read, the worst reads like prose of the most prosaic kind. Whilst there is, undoubtedly bad rhyming poetry, the subtlety of good rhyming poems is a real pleasure to peruse. The use of unusual (but highly effective) rhyming is a real skill which takes time to develop (and is only developed by some). As for the “disdain” for “constant rhyming”, whilst I can understand why this can become tedious, surely it depends on how the constant rhyming is done? “The cat ate my hat. I chased him with a bat, crying this was my hat!”, can quickly lead to tedium on the part of the reader, but much rhyming poetry is not like that!

In conclusion, I understand the views of those who dislike rhyming poetry, however I do not share them. Both rhyme and other forms of poetry possess their merits but I, personally prefer rhyme for the reasons set out above.

As always I would be interested in the views of you my readers.

Kevin