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Old 04-25-2001, 03:07 PM
Richard Wakefield Richard Wakefield is offline
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Traditionally rhyme and meter are seen as mnemonics, aids for memorization. But I'm curious about their heuristic function. It may be too close an inquiry into the essentially private act of creation, but I'd like to ask how much of what you say is discovered in the process of casting about for the right accents or a rhyme that fits. Does it ever seem that a poem lies latent in the language somehow, as if awaiting discovery by the intrepid poet? Any examples?
Richard
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Old 04-26-2001, 05:28 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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What a good question. I've written metrically for so long that the demands of meter don't take me where I need to go, but rhyme certainly does. So for the poet, it's entirely heuristic. We build in sonnets narrow rooms which free us from our shallow preconceptions of what we're out to say. Because this happens nearly every time, it's hard to pick an example, but backwards writing is perhaps the most dramatic. Take "Honey Wagon" which I posted in response to Balogna's first post. I heard the final couplet twenty-five years ago: You can't fertilize a field by farting through the fence. I "heard" half a stanza of quadruply alliterated ballad measure and thought, there's a poem there. I was frustrated that it never came until I finally figured out that, appropriately, the subject was procrastination. And I laboriously worked backward, building each of the three previous rhyme pairs and inventing the story which set up the fourth:

The Honey Wagon

Some say the custom cutters wheeled
and dealed at his expense.
Some say the aphids ate his yield
and call it negligence.
Some of the neighbors’ lips are sealed,
but folks with common sense
say you can’t fertilize a field
by farting through the fence.
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