Non-Rhyming poetry - legitimate or not?

Is poetry not written to rhyme real poetry? Similarly, is splashing paint randomnly on a canvas (ie: mordern art) art?

Rhyme is not important. Meter is.

So if,
I talk,
Like this,
its poetry?

I guess that would make William Shattner the most prolific poet ever.

Rhyming - just a cheap gimmick to make it easier to come up with the last word in a line?

That’s not metered.

look at the haiku
it is metered poetry
but it does not rhyme

Neither rhyme nor meter, I would say, are required for a poem. Escher didn’t need Geometry to do a drawing, did he? Picasso didn’t need perspective, eh?

Poetry, like most of the arts, is pretty subjective. The artist has some intent, the viewer/listener/reader gets some meaning (hopefully) out of it, or perhaps a feeling. That’s pretty much it without picking nits (oh, if I kill someone and you get a feeling out of it thats art?-whatver).

I used to follow rhyme and meter for everything, then I just found it too…Disney? A hard meter even ends up feeling that way after a while, even without rhyming, but it does give a good poem a pace to follow. Most of what I write now doesn’t rhyme, nor have a specific meter. What am I, a songwriter? :smiley:

legitimate? sure, why not?
good? rarely (IMHO)
an artistic expression for the author? yes, that’s the point.

I also agree that ‘meter’ can be more important.

Some kinds of poems have rigid forms. Of course, iambic, anapestic, etc. poems must follow the meter scheme. A limerick must not only follow the meter scheme but the rhyming scheme (aabba). I enjoy writing limericks, and I’ve written a few. I’ve tried my hand at other forms and wrote one sonnet (with the original, old-fashioned rhyming scheme). I like this type of poetry the best. They have structure.

During the last few decades, free verse has become popular. Rather than following any structure, the “poet” is allowed to express himself as freely as possible. Emotions, feelings, sights, etc. are made vivid and memorable by use of such devices as metaphors, similes, and the poetry lies in the artistic expression as seen from the eyes of someone who sees the world more fully than we prosaic people do.

So, it all boils down to how you define the term.

In the vast history of poetry, only a very small part of it actually rhymed. Both epic and lyric poetry in Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Anglo-Saxon, German, and French have historically been delineated by meter alone. Rhyme was seen as extremely crude and was consistently avoided.

I don’t know what “mordern” art is, but if you’re referring to “modern” art, please explain how the following two artists from the modern period can be accurately described as “splashing paint randomnly[sic] on a canvas.”

Roy Lichtenstein
Andy Warhol

Then explain how you know that the works of, say, Willem De Kooning were created randomly as opposed to deliberately.

Modern art, see, contains different movements devoted to different aesthetic principles: Op Art, Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptualism, etc. You may not like all of them, but if you choose not to know what they are and dismiss them as splashing paint, you tend to appear a bit . . . er, uncultured.

[iambic pentameter]
Some poets often try writing like this,
It’s called iambic meter it is tough,
Only 10 syllables for every line,
With stress on every second syllable,
This practise builds a rhythm that is smooth,
This discipline is very hard to learn,
As you can tell I am hopeless at it.
[/iambic pentameter]

Writing in iambic pentameter lends a poem a strong rhythmic beat which can compensate for a rhyme scheme. Learning to write in iambic pentameter is a lot more difficult than trying to write in rhyming couplets, for instance and as such establishes the importance of rhythm over rhyme.

As I said a while ago, you’re not going to be able to convince me that Margaret Atwood’s work isn’t poetry but “There was a young lady named Bright” is.

Shakespeare wrote all his works in iambic pentameter. Writing in iambic pentameter does not preclude rhyming. Most who have done so have also used a rhyming scheme. I don’t know about all the poems written in other languages which has been alluded to. Translations of those poems, in most cases, do not rhyme. That does not mean the original did not. I know most of the poems written in the English language have rhymed until recently. Paradise Lost, for example, was completely rhymed, as was most of Shakespeare.

Imagery is the key to poetry, esp. nowadays with no rhyme or meter.

One may not be able to define what a poem is, but every one recognizes what is a poem. Dictionary definitions do not do justice. There is no definition of what a poem is, but a poem must be experienced.

So too, poems should not be analysed. You can analyse a poem by Keats, such as the “Ode to a Nightingale,” and say that it’s an irregular sonnet, consisting of three quatrains and a couplet (sonnets are normally divide into octet and sestet), the 3d quatrain consisting of very close rhymes, but that is a self-destroying approach to poetry. More importantly, we should ask how does it build itself into a form out of images, ideas, and rhythms.

A poem pleases at first glance, but beyond this the poem must be meaningful and thoughtful.

One of the basic formulae of a poem is moovement, from the specific to the general. Take for example Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The poem begins as a simple description of events, but ends in a suggestion of meaning beyond the simple description.

You can write any gibberish you want and call it “a poem.” That doesn’t make it a poem. It must have imagery and be thought provoking. In my opinion,it must also have meter and a rhyming scheme. Frost wrote most of his poems that way, but there were some notable ones he wrote that had no rhyming scheme at all, but you know they are poems.

Take, for example, his “Paul’s Wife.” I’ll give the first few lines of the poem that goes on for three pages in my book. “To drive Paul out of any lumber camp/All that was needed was to say to him,/‘How is the wife, Paul?’ - and he’d disappear./Some said it was because he had no wife,/And hated to be twitted on the subject;” etc.

Note how it moves along with its meter. No rhyme. It has a message. The last lines are: “Everyone had been wrong in judging Paul./Murphy told me Paul put on all those airs/About his wife to keep her to himself./Paul was what’s called a terrible possessor./Owning a wife with him meant owning her./She wasn’t anybody else’s business,/Either to praise her, or so much as name her,/And he’d thank people not to think of her./Murphy’s idea was that a man like Paul/Wouldn’t be spoken to about a wife/In any way the world knew how to speak.”

I’m a non-expert, and a member of the “I know what I like” school, and I beg your indulgence as I babble for a while.

My personal definition: poetry is putting words together in a cool way. One thing that is cool is when words rhyme. However, not everything that rhymes is cool–sometimes rhymes sound downright stupid, which, to my mind, is what makes really great rhyming stuff all the more cool. If the words chosen to rhyme follow naturally, or, even better, if they seems like the inevitable choice, the best possible words to express what the poet is saying, that’s damn cool.

If the words still go together in a really cool way, I don’t see why they have to rhyme. But, just like there’s a lot of stupid poetry that rhymes, there’s a lot of stupid poetry that doesn’t rhyme, too. If you read some poetry that doesn’t rhyme, and it says something to you, if it sends a shiver down your spine, then I’d say that’s “real” to you, wouldn’t you?

As far as splashing paint randomly on a canvas goes, I figure there are two sides to art: the act of creating art, and the act of experiencing art. If the “artist” is splashing paint randomly on the canvas and it is truly random, he is not really participating in the act of creating art. However, if someone looks at the random splashes and sees something that touches him, then he is participating in the act of experiencing art. However, it seems to me that if the “artist” splashes paint randomly, he is less likely to produce something which touches the viewer than if he used the paint deliberately.

If you see a painting that seems random and meaningless to you, it may be that the artist did not splash paint randomly onto the canvas. He may have genuinely participated in the act of creating art because he was being guided by an internal desire and the painting has some sort of order and meaning to him. As the artist, perhaps he was moved by the creation of it. Just because it doesn’t move you doesn’t mean it is random. It might touch someone else, who can experience it as art.

I disagree with this categorically. Poets often consider their metres carefully. There is most likely a reason a particular poet chose to write a poem in lesser asclepiads or heroic couplets. Often his/her reason is a learned allusion to works of earlier poetry. Often the very genre is defined by the metre, especially in the cases of epic and lyric. If you are ignorant of the significance of epic metre, then what value can your commentary possibly have?

My very first post[sub]typos and all[/sub]

Someone writing a poem may be trying to do any number of things - to convey a particular experience, to capture a mood, to tell a story, to pass on something of cultural value and so on. There are a number of different tools at the poet’s disposal. Obviously, there is a semantic element to the poem, and the poet seeks to use the best words in the best order to convey his/her meaning. But there are other semantic elements, such as imagery and paronomesia (word play). There may also be structural elements, such as metre (the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables), rhythm (the application of metre to achieve a particular effect), caesura (where and why the metrical or line breaks occur) and rhyme.

These are just available tools, like the colours on the artist’s palette, and the poet uses whichever tools s/he needs to at the time. If rhyme is not important, then there is no reason for the poem to rhyme. Many poems that were based on the oral folk-tradition do rhyme, because rhyming makes things easier to remember. Much of Shakespeare’s dramatic verse does not rhyme, because in dramatic contexts sustained rhyming for its own sake serves no purpose, tends to distract from the sense rather than enhance it, and becomes rather irritating after a while. However, it was a convention understood by poet and audience alike that a rhyming couplet was often used to mark the end of a dramatic scene - rather like we readily understand that a musical ‘sting’ in a sitcom notes the end of one scene and the start of another, possibly at a different time and place.

So a poem does not have to rhyme. However, a few lines set out with line breaks, so as not to look like prose, do not necessarily constitute a poem - despite endless examples of ‘modern poetry’ by satirists and parodists. There can never be any definitive ‘acid’ test for deciding whether something is, or is not, a poem. However, in anything worth calling a poem one would expect to find some evidence that the author has used one or more of the above-mentioned tools intelligently and purposefully, and demonstrates some experience of how to do this well. If we see no such evidence, then we may be entitled to the view that it is not a poem at all.

The VoiceofReason made a brave stab at writing in iambic pentameter, but (as he would agree) it was not very successful! An iambic ‘foot’ consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Five in a row, and you have iambic pentameter:

“Mysterious paths are lain for lover’s thoughts
All strewn with sly enigmas, subtle traps
Kissed hearts do fight bewilderment’s onslaught
Erased of reason, knowledge, rule or facts
Let this be so, for though this mirrored hall
Of mind mirage may sweetly tantalise
Value it less we would if love were all
Encompassed in what’s swiftly analysed
Walk with me, then, into conundrum’s lair
Intake of intuition’s true perplex
Take these my words, and trust to what we’ll share
Here asked of you, if but you would suspect
Make of these lines your study and your play
Escape their lie to see the lying craved”
barbitu8 is nearly on the money about Shakespeare. It is true that a lot of his dramatic verse tends to fall into an iambic pattern, with five or six feet to the line, but it’s not quite accurate to say he used this all the time.

My problem with modern art (I apologize for spelling mistakes, no need to be rude about it…) is that I can dip my shoes in paint, then walk all over a canvas, call it “neo-classic-modernist-retrocopulation” and if I can convince some self-proclaimed “new wave” art critic to agree, it’ll hang at some museum or be sold at some exhibition and a bunch of yes-men, not wanting to be left behind on the latest trend, will all agree.

Or I could just draw a straight line, and it might be “genius in its simplicity” and “a reflection of the artist’s view on conformity.”

WRT poetry, IMHO, the word for non-rhyming, non-metered poetry is “talking.” There’s nothing wrong with talking, I can share an experience and incorporate imagery, metaphors, etc. into speech and it might sound fantastic, just as long as I don’t pass it off as something it’s not…

We’ve tackled this issue in at least two other threads in which I was the last person to post. I would encourage anyone who still has questions on the subject to refer to my standard spiel on the subject, which I reproduce here for convenience:

aynrandlover wrote:

Words have meter. The question is whether you are in control of that meter.

You must be thinking about a very different Escher. Or, maybe you have an odd definition of `geometry’. Not only do all visual arts employ points, angles, space, Escher in particular plays games with the relation between the mathematical discipline of geometry and the intuitive sense of space and form. Without geometry, there is no Escher.

You may have an analogy to rhyme here. It can be done without in much the way that the vanishing point can. But meter in poetry is more like paint in painting.

Blame the artist, not the technique. It’s not always easy to make a well-regulate poem sound grave on the one hand or dynamic on the other. But it has been done in more poems than most of us have ever read, and you can do it, too. It’s not supposed to be easy.

Maeglin wrote:

In an inflected language, which all the ones you cite are, rhyming is crude. You’d have more trouble avoiding rhymes than finding them. This is not a good analogy to English. Rhymes make a much stronger impression on the English listener’s ear, and have been used to great elegance in the language.

barbitu8 wrote:

Shakespeare wrote a great deal that was not iambic pentameter.

Paradise Lost hardly rhymed at all.

And does so quite remarkably through the clever use of rhyme.

Neither imagery or `provocativeness’ are necessary or sufficient to make a poem. They’re good to have, but not essential.