Sunday, August 16, 2009

We Can Still Do It—If We Want To

Here is a bit of an experiment
To see why it is that modernity,
Perhaps (or not) to its own detriment

Has jettisoned the art of poetry—
Or, put more humbly, versification—
To communicate its own unique esprit

In all realms except erotic suasion
Or, in muddled prose-like verse called “free,”
To vent a stray emotion on occasion.

In laboring thus to gin up, count them, three
Stanzas, taking at least twenty minutes,
I note that thinking’s rather easy

But finding rhymes resembles pulling rivets
And keeping equal beats in every line
Demands a kind of balancing of budgets.

The effort this imposes is a sign
Of patience rather than of genius
Of dedication not of light divine.

By work the ancients said: “We’re serious
And mean each word we utter in this form”—
Except the few to flip rhymes gracious,

But don’t mind those, the object of this norm
Was to ennoble what just bubbles out
Like water from a spout after a storm,

To give the thought a form, a lash, a knout,
To twist it tight, to give it hold, purchase,
To make it stick in mind like brick with grout.

But hold. Some of that stuff was pious, righteous
Drivel—or sleep-inducing narrative
Of which a line or two’s still famous

And very few have managed to outlive
Their times except in towers ivory
Where studies of history are motive

Enough to stir around such-like debris.
Fashions morph. The novel has now replaced
The epic. The clergy’s gone, punditry

Rules, prose is king, and poetry’s misplaced.

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