A lesson in poetry: The importance of rhythm.

I’ve noticed a trend among many of my contemporaries. They’re very much into free verse poetry and disregard structure of more traditional verse. Now, I’m not perfect when I attempt to pay homage to the giants whose shoulders I attempt to stand atop, however, I do attempt it. Free verse is fine for some, some even do it well but there’s something that these poems are begging of their poets. Rhythm. I discovered my love for the spoken verse and more traditional styles of poetry through my love of music. Poetry and music were so intertwined that I couldn’t help but fall in love. I’d hate to see that lost completely. So, disregarding most metre, stressed syllables, and syllable structure for a moment (I often neglect counting syllables myself and just write by ear), let’s take a moment and see how a simple sonnet displays such an ariose tone. Below, I’ve recorded a recitation of my sonnet Dog Years accompanied by a simple chord progression on guitar. It’s a simple 3/4 time signature that I believe shows how much more powerful poetry can be when close mind is paid attention to rhythm. Count along. 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3… You may find it fun and perhaps more challenging if free verse is becoming a bit dull for you. I’m in no way the de facto authority on proper poetry but you may find yourself curious and try to attempt some unfamiliar poetic challenges. Here’s my humble attempt at giving poetic advice.

Collect just the spoils of that which you’ve earned

As you endlessly toil through days
Where a lifeless authority strengthens his word
Whose victories soil your name

You paddle on through and carry the blunder
The bend in your spine is revealing
Your stomach fills empty and settles for hunger
While walking hind legs are now kneeling

You’re a dog growing blind who can’t see the colour
That the world in your grips still tries baring
But the grey in your eyes will only grow duller
As you lay down your body uncaring

And now lay upon your calloused paw,
A gentleness I bring, old dog

-Stephen J. Dawson Jr.

Listen to Dog Years accompanied by guitar. by xanaxityirony #np on #SoundCloud

I hope someone can take something from that but, if you don’t or you disagree, just don’t fucking stop writing.


5 thoughts on “A lesson in poetry: The importance of rhythm.

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    1. Glad poetry isn’t dead to all modern poets! And I don’t plan on it. You neither!

  1. IMO rhythm, besides providing beauty also makes verse more accessible. However, sometimes poets are hit with an idea that feels so astounding to them that they give up the norms of structure, beauty and rhythm and in their impatience present the reader with the bare idea to be consumed as it is.
    Liked the recitation.

    1. Oh, absolutely. Some poets capture an emotion without rhyme or rhythm and can really move me. Some call it mere prose but poetry is poetry to me, structured or not. I’m just partial to structure because of how I was raised as a kid. I was fed Romantic poetry and forced to recite it. I grew to truly love just how malleable language. To me, a finely structured poem is like a math problem, there’s one answer and a few ways to get to it. Thanks for your feedback!

      1. I have never heard poetry being likened to maths, a unique and interesting take on the subject. I will think more on those lines.

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