Free Verse by Barrie Purnell

Barrie told the group that he didn’t really get poetry without rhyme, but gave it a go. Hope you agree it works well. Ed

Free Verse by Barrie Purnell

They said to me forsake your simple rhymes

Free verse is what describes a poet best

Those arbiters of taste those powerful men

The editors who publish poetry today

That which reminds them of childhood nursery rhymes

Is no longer a measure of a poets worth

Look more to the poems of Walt Whitman who,

Using assonance and alliteration,

Ensures his verse flows smoothly from the tongue

And if prose is good enough for some of Shakespeare’s work

Then who would speak against such sage advice

But we know the poetry remembered best,

By those of us who enjoy rather than judge,

Is that where rhyme implants it in our brain

We all recall verses by the likes of

Hardy, Shelley, Browning or John Betjeman

Are they and all their kind damned as mere rhymesters

Because some words tend towards a single sound?

While Wordsworth’s Daffodils is oft on someone’s tongue

His unrhymed Prelude comes less readily to mind

Yet I cannot escape the need to understand

The secret of writing in this free verse form

Maybe I could use some sort of subterfuge

And intertwine a rhyme within each line

So satisfying my urge to versify

But this would simply be a fools deceit

To disguise my inability to use

That hidden art which gives free verse its form

They say my verse must have no set length of line

No rhymes and no set rhythm too

They say beware the iambic pentameter

Unless your verse is to be blank

So I ask what can I use to drive my words

To the bottom of my still empty page?

They say follow the rhythm of your normal speech

And listen to the sounds made by your words

That is when your free verse poetry will come

This must be the most difficult of tasks for

Those of us taught to live life within the rules

Experience tells me no rules lead to chaos

It is anathema to the ordered mind

That must be the secret of this free verse construction

To bring order out of chaos with no set rules

If no rules exist then how am I to judge

If any of the lines I have written here

Amount to poetry in free verse form

Or just the scribblings of a bored old hand?

But all the while those damn rhymes form and drip

From the corners of my mouth onto the page

Searching for a line they can complete

But there is no place for them in my free verse

They drift away homeless outcasts on my breath

What is this more advice you give me now?

You say it doesn’t really matter anyhow

No please don’t tell me after all this time

You liked it better when I made it rhyme !



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