Tools for Would-be Poets

I thought I’d like to write a poem or two,
And so set out that pleasant task to do,
But quickly was I seized by quicksand words.
The lines grew troublesome and most absurd.

That bit of doggerel was written in iambic pentameter, with an AABB rhyme scheme. Because poetry is spoken music, and in English tradition is densely packed with meaning, every piece of doggerel or poetry needs to have some things that normal prose doesn’t have.

  1. The right words
  2. With the right meanings
  3. To tell what the writer is driven to tell
  4. Arranged rhythmically
  5. (Optional) That rhyme

Note the non-optional nature of #4. I do not accept free verse as poetry. Without rhythm music is just a bunch of notes, and poetry without rhythm is self-indulgent, a mere rant that falls apart and fades from memory.

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