Rhythm and Rhyme and Harmony
I hated writing poetry as a kid, mostly because I seem to lack the ability to rhyme or the sense of rhythm that other people agree upon.
The rhythm? I really don’t know what my problem is. I never seem to count the stresses quite like anyone else so meter is always a challenge. I can play music so you’d think I could feel a beat, but not so much when it comes to words. Perhaps I speak oddly, put the emphasis on the wrong syllable (you should hear my Italian).
I definitely heard badly when I was acquiring language, so I could blame inner ear infections for the rhyme problem. It’s not that I can’t rhyme at all. But when I write according to some scheme and show it to someone, they usually laugh and tell me something doesn’t rhyme when I’m convinced it does. It’s a little frustrating.
But sooner or later they tell you poetry doesn’t have to rhyme. It doesn’t always have to follow iambic pentameter, or whatever. Sometimes it’s just beautiful words. And that’s when I started enjoying poetry.
I found some of my favorite poets– William Carlos Williams, Charles Bukowski — and learned that little things matter and ugly things can be beautiful. Images, ideas, they could be expressed with as much art in free verse as formal. Conversely, my respect for formal verse grew. It’s a challenge, one which I regularly fail to meet, but it’s good to flex those literary muscles. Perhaps that’s maturity, as well, to enjoy things you once couldn’t.
But you’ll still be lucky to find me rhyming.