1. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rhythm in poetry

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by HorusEye, Dec 3, 2009.

    I've read alot of poetry, from some of the worst to some of the best, and still I wonder what defines rhythm. Most poems, both the good and the bad, swing in tempo in ways that would be quite unacceptable for song lyrics, and yet some are said to have good rhythm while some are said to have bad rhythm.

    But what defines this? Counting beats obviously makes most of them fall apart.
     
  2. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    IMO, at its most base, rhythm (in poetry) is achieved when it all just sounds right. You can press metre, feet and their constituent iambs and trochee into a rigid structure and hope for rhythm that interacts favourably with meaning and intent, but I find it best to play it more loosely.

    As with all device, less is often more. An explicit rhythm can prove distracting, but an immaculate couplet placed just right can offer more, affecting tempo, delivery and effect.

    Certainly don't be too rigid when seeking "good rhythm" - Shakespeare et al were often not. When an overidding rhythm pattern more or less matches a cardinal one, then a piece is said to be in that rhythm, but analysis often shows irregular hyperbeats and dropped and added counts.

    Finally, remember that punctuation and line breaks in poetry have an extra dimension that they don't have in prose. They can act as intangible beats, and contribute to rhythm immeasurably. Use your full arsenal and experiment. Good luck.
     
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  3. WanderingStar
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    WanderingStar Member

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    Great response Gannon. I was interested in seeing other opinions on this but yours seems really knowledgeable and thought out.

    Its hard to say though what makes someone 'sound good'. We all have different opinions on that anyway.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as a full time poet and mentor to many aspiring and beginning poets, i can't really add anything substantial to gannon's excellent explanation...

    good rhythm in poetry, as in music, is ultimately in the ear of the beholder...
     
  5. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's no single way that a poet can create a good rhythm. Even some of the most strict poetry in the world, including dan-direach, which required its poets to be professionally trained for twelve years, change depending on what the poem is talking about, and what sort of language the poet uses.
     

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