The use of rhyme throughout history has a rich tradition in poetry. Often rhyme in children stories and children’s street games is
a leisure activity, entertaining and enlightening these poetry games have existed throughout history. Something from one of the
earliest printed children’s storybooks is “If wishes were horses, than beggars would ride”. I suspect people would add to this
repertory of verses substituting new words and phrases as entertainment, keeping themselves and the children occupied, perhaps
something to sing when doing chores, on trips in town, or before bed. Extrapolated to the calling of artist, the authentic soul,
the artist creating is the celebration of the inner child. Without precepts and the hard edge of societal conscripts, it is play.
Where there is hurt and violence, creating art will heal. Art frees the soul to be with the Holy Spirit and the angels.
The idea of rhyme is cadence, it gives rhythm and creates a beat, like music, a song or a dance in celebration. In pagan religion, spells were cast using rhyme, this special feature was supposed to aid in the spell coming true. Sometimes people talk or write in rhyme, iambic pentameter, implying a certain synchronicity.
Historically, poetry contained rhyming couplets, the last words of 2 lines would rhyme. In 1550 the words at the end of the lines had to be metaphors, ie. slide and glide. With the dawning of the Renaissance, the words at the end of a rhyming couplet were just required to rhyme, they did not have to be metaphors.* During the reign of Elizabeth I, and the life and times of playwright/Poet William Shakespeare and Lutenist/Composer John Dowland, the poetry/lyrics often rhymed in rhyming couplets. At the time there was a flowering in England, the middle class composed of merchants was formed, the development of the cloth industry, the common man became more educated and literacy grew. With the advent of the Italian Renaissance (Artist/Writer/Inventor Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and Artist/Sculptor Michaelangelo (1475-1564)) and the Petrarchan Sonnet which spread to England to be reinvented as the English (Shakespearan) Sonnet. The Italian Sonnet was a series of 14 lines with a set rhyme scheme of words at the end of lines (one form ends in a rhyming couplet), a certain preface, a problem in the first part (the octave) is answered in the second part (the sestet). The form of the Petrarchan sonnet was particularly suited to the Italian language and not so much English, became adapted to the English language by William Shakespeare. The Shakespearean Sonnet has a rhyme scheme of (ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG). In his plays Shakespeare was famous for ending plays and often scenes and sprinkled throughout the play, rhyming couplets.
The Renaissance a time of enlightenment, advances in the sciences as well as culture, how does this reflect in the poetry of the time? Writers/Poets/Artists sustained themselves by having patrons. Wealthy people who supported the artist, the work of the writer was not considered his own, there was no copyright. If you did not have a patron, you had a job and practiced your calling part-time. The printing press invented in the mid 1400’s with the production of books was just coming into play. There were very few women writers or women in the arts. “Over one hundred works were composed or translated by Englishwomen between 1500 and 1640. Though this is an impressive increase (from 0), it was, of course, a mere fraction of the thousands written by men . . ."** Titled and middle-class women wrote on subjects ranging from religion to motherhood to social commentary. Most of the published works by English women in the Renaissance were religious, while secular works were usually left in manuscript form.”* The major poetic forms were the lyric, the elegy, the pastoral and the tragedy. Each form had expectations about theme, style, tone and even plot details. These conventions were understood and followed by everyone. Often poetry was accompanied by music. The major theme of the Renaissance was a celebration of truth and beauty in words. The English poetry at this time was ostentatious, repetitious and may have betrayed a subtle wit. English poets were famous for intermixing the different genres, creating experimental poetry in a hodgepodge form, the challenge being to make the poem work in any case, going against formal custom. (the most famous poem in this genre being Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser).
With the introduction of books to the culture, the increase in literacy and the increase in commerce, the Renaissance was a time of flowering for everyone, particularly the poor. The understanding of conventions of literature and the set rhyme schemes of sonnets, makes me think of a constructed top-down consensus (brought into play by the elite) perhaps extending to greater understanding of social mores and the Holy Spirit way. Perhaps a more copacetic time, in synchronicity. In the background, there was an undeclared war with Spain (1585 – 1604) the Catholic King worried about the Protestant regime of Queen Elizabeth I, and intermittent battles at sea. Nearly the entire Spanish army died (about 26,000 men), most of the last 10,000 survivors became victims of typhus and dyssentry. I suspect the love of the protestant monarch combined with the English populace joined against the catholic invader, made for a certain social solidarity amidst strife.
After the Renaissance, came the Enlightenment (1650) and a change in theme to rationalism, human reason and scientific thought. (in 1660 the black plague and the burning of London Towne – James I and the Stuarts on the throne). Rhyming couplets continued to be used e.g. the poetry of Alexander Pope.
In 1800 to 1850 the Romantic period flowered, and in reaction to the Enlightenment, focusses on emotions and love poetry. (the beginning of the industrialized economy, better nutrition, better healthcare, exploding population). There were experiments in rhyme other than the rhyming couplet, using a b a, rhymes. William Blake as well as using rhyming introduced a rule of meter, as in “And Did Those Feet” which not only rhymes in a succession of rhyming couplets but each line is in a meter of “8”.
Trancendentalism (1830), a protest of the intellectualism and reason of the Enlightenment celebrates the spiritual connection to nature. Rhyming became optional in the poetry of this genre. (e.g. “The Summer Rain” by Henry David Thoreau, rhymes every second line, although “Berrying” by Ralph Waldo Emerson has no rhyme).
Victorian literature appears in a wide range of styles and themes, the Victorian era, Queen Victoria on the throne, a time of relative peace, better nutrition, the beginnings of the industrialized economy and the beginnings of the freedom movement for all people (suffragettes, everyman). Major themes for women are nature, religion and domesticity, however Elizabeth Barrett Browning introduces concerns for working conditions and politics (“The Cry of the Children”). The most successful poetry of this period is lyric poetry, the use of rhyme, variations of rhyming couplets and a b a rhyme schemes. (“The Charge of the Light Brigade”, “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred Lloyd Tennyson, “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti).
Parallel to the Victorian era of poetry was Realism (1850 to about 1900) a focus on literal truth, practicality and realistic description but it was used mainly for the novel. (perhaps William Wordsworth could be considered a Realist poet, he used rhyming couplets and a b a rhyme schemes amongst others). An extension of the Realism movement is Naturalism (1900’s), where objectivity of style, the poor and their conditions are fated, also most popular in novel writing.
Modernism and Existentialism are parallel literary genres that developed in the 20th century. Marked by the rise of constitutional government and capitalism in the West, sparked incredible violence in revolutions and wars, W.W. I and W.W. II, perhaps in part a reaction to the changes in the social economy brought about by new inventions in the Industrialized Society. With the artistic movement of DaDa (a nonsensical response to the violence of W.W. I) and the Nihilist saying “God is dead” I suspect the world is screaming with change and violence, perhaps the cultural way and the Holy Spirit way have become lost as people moved off the land away from the Agricultural Society to cities and factories. Added stress is the rising population. Perhaps in response to these stressors the Modernist poetics movement brings in “free verse” where the actual portrayal of thoughts and feelings are more important than “superficial” rhyme schemes. As if the top down elite mode of order is challenged by the freedom movement, and a need to be seen as real, a scream, the old systems aren’t working anymore and there is crisis. (T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, e.e. cummings, Gwendolyn MacEwen). The Existential movement is about pain and the shattering of relationships, ad Nauseum followed by the light at the end of the tunnel. It is also about absurdist theater, as people come into conflict with each other in conflicting power constructs.
Post-modernist poetry is somehow more free than the heavy Modernist offerings, with a reclaiming of the concept of beauty. However, narrative techniques of broken thought train, elements of out-of-place, out-of-time, lack of reality, surrealism and minimalism, yet with elements moving through Existential and Nihilistic themes, lend themselves to hope in the greater freedom of the Peace Movement of the 1960’s, after some distance from the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945. (the works of Leonard Cohen, Rod McKuen). Line breaks and unusual uses of punctuation, perhaps illustrate disorder and suffering, a call to the reader to wake up to the world and question the violence that is happening, a call for peace and a sustainable life. The Beat Poetry era is parallel to the Post-Modernist, arising after W.W. II. An American phenomena, often the poetry was marked by machine gun-like delivery, pared in free verse, spiritual, a rejection of materialism and came with sexual experimentation and experimentation with psychedelic drugs. (the works of Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlenghetti, Gregory Corso and the novels of William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac). The works of these writers fueled the rock music groups (and vice versa) giving birth to the Beatles, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan. Rhyming happens occasionally, but rarely, when it is good is inobvious or lyric, as if a happy accident.
The Art Nouveau Experimental Poetry/SteamPunk poetry/New Age Renaissance in poetry is fed by the Online Society and the invention of the computer. The ease of finding an audience online, combined with the morphing of traditional work constructs has sparked an arts economy. The New Age Renaissance recaptures beauty, nature images, is sometimes surreal, influenced by the Imagist School, the Symbolists and the Beat Poets. Haiku, a popular traditional poetic form from Japan is a full blown phenomena. In the background is the American Black beat in Rap and Hip Hop music with consistent use of rhyme. As the season rounds out, the New Age Renaissance poetry rocks the cradle, as rhyme, often with repetitive words begins to blow in the gift of life and dance. This Writer is impressed by occasional rhyme, original and inobvious rhyme with cadence and lyric. Also the full blown rhymes, music and rhythms of Hip Hop music is spellbinding as the spin, spins in.
The soup of poetry/art exists within the context of the Society, influenced by major inventions, disasters, major events, the elite and is reflected in the crucible of the artists experiences and soul. Over time, the conventions of acceptable themes and rhyme schemes, the conventions of the Renaissance have fallen away into universal themes and freedom of form with a reclaiming of rhyme in the New Age Renaissance Society. The idea of shared meanings, prevalent in the Renaissance has morphed into a cry for freedom in the New Society, as Poets/Artists/Everyman roils against the false politics/cultural constructions of the Old Society and the violence of life N.A. to reclaim the tenets of the Holy Spirit. A climax of needs met, food, shelter, a calling for work and a happy longterm covenant marriage on a positive SignfromGod. The quest for the happy life, the ideal society. Rhyme on.
N.B.: The antithesis to the Western rhyme phenomena is traditional Japanese Haiku. Haiku traditionally a children's game became popular in the 17th century through Matsuo Basho. There are many rules that govern Haiku, one being that the poem does not rhyme. The short 17 syllable (in Japanese, about 11 syllables in English) poem, is profound, with nature imagery, in a breath. This society was highly constructed with the ceremonial rite of suicide and Japan existing on a fault line, is prone to earthquakes. In this high anxiety society, Haiku can make one feel better in an uncertain world. The antithesis to rhyme, my theory is it is a happy occurrence of different cultural essence.
*Madrid, Anthony. "Wallace Stevens’s Place in the History of English Rhyming". A talk given at the 43rd Annual
Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900 – Transcript, 27 February 2015.
**Women Writers. Internet Shakespeare Editions. 2016.
Look At Her is ecstatic feminist poetry, from Canadian Poet Vanessa Shields, the poetry fireworks
exploding in the new sky. The cover of the book begins the journey with people standing and wild roots
growing down the page from under the girl. Vanessa Shields lives in Windsor, Canada. She is a Poet,
Educator, Writer, Mother and Wife. She has a love of storytelling and hosts the Spoken Word event
Mouth Piece Storytelling.
This poetry is raw urban noire, experiential, rooted in everyday life, an exuberant truth telling by a feminist Poet. Inside poetry, it is a celebration of the power of love, sex and procreation, an immediate, earthy, soullight offering. This poetry will shake you out of your comfort zone with a wild scream of “sex, love, blood and guts and bingo” long into the night. Themes include the female body, sex, motherhood, family, coming of age stories, stories of cancer, fear, discrimination, sexism, the violence on the edge of nirvana, life N.A.
“The Ruby Between My Thighs
I want to tell you I’m a mother
And you not look at me like I’m a child
With dirty innocence on my skin stretch-marked bleeding
The love of this planet spinning on the tip of my tired nipple
You suck too hard too often too much
I need to replenish
I need to sleep
To wash you off my lips
Scrub your seed from my cheek
Laugh in your ear and scratch your back your DNA is Under my nails
I want to tell you I’m a mother
And you bow down
Grow your beard and fill your wine jugs pour and caress
My weary feet with your hairy chin
Cook me a meal that makes you a slave then clean it all up
Then make me a coffee
I want to tell you I’m a mother
And you get up on a chair and clap slap your palms raw
Over and over and over
Never stop screaming my praise yell till your vocal chords tear and
Your tongue turns purple push out a baby with the sheer
Will of your being
I want to tell you I’m a mother
And you respect me for being the whore
Who keeps humanity glimmering dripping from
The ruby between my thigh”
The imagery celebrates the human body, sexual imagery, breasts, nipples, semen, wombs, vaginas, body functions and the interplay of the positive energy of rootedness, the power of home. A celebration of the power of women, a woman happy in her calling as wife and mother, artist, triumphs in the magic of sacrament, of husband, family and life in the everyday.
This book of poetry is divided into 4 parts Body, Motherhood, Family and Power. In the tradition of confessional poetry, Poet Shields spins her own unique unforgettable style. The Poet creates stories in narrative, in the first person, immediate, inspirational, with strains of “we shall overcome” bravery and humor. It is a Canadian story of a mixed race Italian family, showcased in a wild revery of the heart. The raw stories of earth light, centered in themes of family and everyday life give insight into real people as a truthtelling.
“In The Shower
Your skin smells like French fries and pasta
I hold your scent in my nose
Make a restaurant of you in my mouth
Remind myself that all this skin and scent
Is mine to love to inhale to hold
Beyond death do us part
There are pieces that don’t align
Ribs that won’t rub as I embrace you
The shapes of us growing sagging shifting
With life and age and time
But it doesn’t matter
There are no borders between our souls
There is no war between our heartbeats
We wash each other before we make love
Laugh at the sound of the water squishing
Splashing between us
Your skin smells like French fries and pasta
There are allusions to great writers, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Neruda, Rilke, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Annie de Franco’s music amongst others. She explores her Italian and Black heritage, stories of Nonna and Nonno dancing in the kitchen, the story of her mother in the bathroom, washing and applying skincream in the morning, the story of her parents broken marriage, her relationship with her father, stories of love and sex with her husband, stories of her children. And woven into the intimate portrayals of love is the occasional violence of distaff, discrimination, the fear of violence, as if the reality of violence N.A. licks like fire on the edge of the perimeter but does no harm, as the Poet is protected by a fierce love.
“I Have A Daughter
I watch her playing with the dog in the yard
Her high-pitched voice knows only joy and gentle need
She is not afraid to come home
There is no man here who will hit her with his hands
There is no woman here who will hit her with her words
I have a daughter
I watch her playing with the dog in the yard
She is the movie I dreamed for myself each night
In my childhood beds”
Of a summer evening, the scent of a large pot of homemade Italian spaghetti sauce wafts from down the hallway, in my home, the home of the broken fountain. In the wake of this book of poetry, the intelligent woman, the woman as domestic goddess, creator of home, peace, love and life triumphs in Look At Her by Vanessa Shields.
Available @ Amazon.ca.
Lovelorn Summer heat and the Celtic beat . . . Mavericks by Strider Marcus Jones is a study in the alchemy of New Age
Renaissance poetics and language. Strider Marcus Jones lives in Paris. He is a Poet/Musician/Law Graduate/retired Civil
Servant born in Salford England, his family originally from Ireland and Wales. He is widely published online, in journals
and in anthologies. Poet Jones has written 5 books of poetry, Mavericks is the first book of poetry This Writer
has reviewed for him.
This poetry is an event in love themes, romance, sometimes sexual imagery, often expressing want and not. Perhaps the violence of ended covenants, as if the undertoad of Western culture raises it’s Medusa’s head. Woven into the Celtic lyric lilt are nature images, flowers, jasmine, leaves, trees, berries the landscape of forest walks in poetry. The original use of language as music, new allusions and sometimes original words create an art nouveau poetic experience.
“STAYING IN THE JASMINE
falling into jasmine,
someone, who is, has been
put back on the shelf.
calling from the jasmine,
sounding, like i have been
part of someone else:
not as the me, i used to be,
who did the doubts, of in and out,
not knowing, what i was about
hiding behind stealth
a favourite raindrop in the sun was he,
coming down and straight back up, without
a word when finding others out
suspicions kept inside this self.
stalling in the jasmine,
knowing who was, is seen
as more than something else.
staying in the jasmine,
making truer roots, than these have been
out of something else.”
The entire presentation is magical, using various forms of rhyme creating cadence, discord and mystery. The Poet is the alchemist, through various experiments with rhyme stirring the pot, in search of the perfect poem. The poetry presents different forms of rhyme, from rhyming couplets to end of lines a – b – a rhyme schemes, internal rhymes, repetitive words, amongst others, that regularly flow through each poem. It is a rich cadence, considered, sophisticated, creating a whole earth affect. It’s danger is to fall into over familiarity, it’s height is a magical take on poetic dance which it achieves more often than not, as if on the wings of peace.
what's the point of crying into me
but i can see,
to set you free.
don't you know
i did this long ago,
by turning songs off the radio.
silence is the bark
around my ark,
i wear it on, to eat the dark
and to keep out the images
of once shared symmetries,
standing, like stone circle cemeteries
in the open air, made
for the wind and rain to fade,
for the sun's bleach and icy blade
to erase it all,
to forget its fall,
to remove its face, from beauty's wall.”
Staring in the face of free verse Modernism, the return to beauty with the Post-Moderns and now the return to rhyme in the New Age. As if the rebirth of civilization with the ease of information flow, the Holy Spirit tenets, in the Online Society is calling the Poet into higher climes of romance and the quest for karmic purity, the quest for the ideal, in all things peace. His influences are largely Celtic Poets, Seamus Heaney, W.B. Yeats, Robert Frost as well as Sylvia Plath and Pablo Neruda. Evolving from the Modernist, “God is dead” post WW II epoch into the era of dance with the introduction of regular rhyme, it is as if the poetry is evolving into the Internet journey of Zen and home.
standing silent proud,
alone, or in a crowd
life glazed mood and skin
outside and in
for you, i think out loud
and take you in
where thoughts abound reversible
where saying being wrong
reaches out beyond
the natural need to win.
moulded by my hands
to this shape that understands;
its cloth of clay holds you warm,
a mummer masked in costumes storm
react with its receptacle of reason
for sorting truths from treason,
but you don't need to have a season
to put your flowers into me
swaying here, in wind and wild, as born so be.”
This poetry speaks of hope and dance as the lyric rhythm, trees in summer breezes that move against the sky. Fantastical New Age Celtic poetry, Mavericks by Strider Marcus Jones.
Available @ Amazon.ca.