Of Rhyming and Timing and Musing that Priming



Not too terribly long ago (though I cannot tell you how long precisely) I was conversing with a fellow writer about Inspiration and Poetry.  It was a fascinating discussion that I, not surprisingly, never wanted to end.  It started out innocently enough, with a simple query ‘What makes a poem a fantastic poem?’, a question which soon spiraled into the importance of metaphysical thinking and transcendence of emotion; the subtleties of wordplay vs. explicit vulgarism, and the inevitable influence our musings may have, even if such an outcome is not deliberate.

As might be expected, our ideas contrasted, but it was not surprising as our own unique writing styles are quite different (his more structured and traditional, mine…well you know mine.) These variances, however ultimately came down to format, style, grammar and the like; yet we agreed to disagree on these points.  After all, whether a poem comes in the form of a sonnet, a rondeau, a pantoum, or a cinquain; a troilet, a senryu, a tanka or a kyrielle, the desire to share a particular thought, emotion or impulse is usually the underlying motivation for writing.

Our views on the emotive side of poetry concurred, such as allowing Inspiration to lead as opposed to leading Inspiration. Leaving yourself open in all situations rather than closing yourself off to the emotions that may inspire you, whether that inspiration comes through quiet contemplation or at the spur of the moment in some flash of creativity that makes you reach for pen and paper (or laptop) to scribble effusively before the wave passes by. (and the resulting frustration that can occur when you do not.)

We also agreed that rhyming is far less important than timing; that the heartbeat of a poem is crucial, the pulse, as it were, which brings the verse to life and keeps it alive.  Rhyming is a beautiful thing when it happens, when it works, but it should not be the focus of writing poetry.  There is a fine balance between (good) free verse (which quickly became another facet of the conversation, but I’ll prattle on about that another time) and rhymed poetry, and it is a tightrope that is often difficult to walk, but we did unequivocally agree that the age-old, sing-song rhyming scheme so often forced upon an unsuspecting verse (or reader) can easily trap the poet, stifle the verse, and, ultimately lose the reader, frequently for good.

So what is the magic combination that stirs the heart, mind and spirit of both writer and reader?  What is it that constitutes a fantastic poem? Perhaps you have thoughts you would like to share? (please do!) but we could not really say, yet just like any form of art, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder’. The artist can never predict what might inspire smiles or prompt sighs and, in the end, the creator must create whatever it is their heart longs to express.  After all when two poets start musing about musing and the words we are choosing and using, the result can be amusing, but very often confusing.






Image found on Pinterest.  Credit Acknowledged to the Original creator. Thank You.


  1. I grew up reading the ole’ traditional rhyming poetry. Getting away from that into Free verse, is a fairly new playing field for me and one I am enjoying immensely! In my humble opinion, I think that what makes a good poem is one that moves the reader. No matter what form that may take. Some poetry, once I read that last line, I am just in awe at the mastery and beauty and also of the emotion that it can evoke. THAT is good poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (And what do you know, I do have some kind web page, its name popped up on its own like some deliciously forgotten dessert.) My contribution to your line of musings is that sometimes, and probably more often in these times, a poet is not free to express just what his heart longs for, where he finds a sort of stone wall. And beyond that wall there are, he knows, all sorts of wonderful creatures, whose animal silence is too full and complete and suggests some unheard-of and indescribable sounds that they would make – not twittering, not chirping or roaring. He is quite sure that there is nothing terrible there, at any rate. But he knows that they, on the other side, would not survive on the banal side things here, where time, necessity, decency, respect inform all decisions of an unfree world and all movements in unfree air. One really cannot dream but to want to see the dream become reality (which it might have been at one point, but is not now). The landscape, if he turns away from the wall, is quite dead here, on the floor of a vanished forest. There is a sense like a magician’s cloth has been pulled off. All of the great beasts and monsters have been slain, tamed or shrunken down to chihuahua size. The trees are more or less silhouettes of his pained imagination. Any life that remains is small, busy and inhuman in the leaves underfoot – a nano life. A tiny cheer goes up at the technical word. They love them down there. The ants are working and hauling sticks as usual between the fat brown loaves of vegetation, but he really does not know what to do with them and theirs. All in all, the soul must have hope not of its own invention. And the vocabulary – why, who stuffed it full of Latin and Greek roots, of abbreviations and acronyms, memos and memes? His “language” feels like someone else’s. He is keeping another’s teeth in his mouth. But the gift is still with him, among all those inserted parts and patented appendages. So he pulls down his jacket, as though really a man, and walks away from the wall to where the forest ruin finally runs out and a sort of blinking blankness begins. And on the edge of that he writes out of a seething mental turmoil. Here is inspiration guiding poetry indeed, for all the joy it gives him. Rhymes? Sometimes. Free verse? All verse is free. A humble man, he yet thinks all his words are true and all the forms exactly original – a gyration of borrowed prophesy that finds no purchase here on the threshold and arcs back into the no-time where it applies. Because nothing more applies here. He stands there, retching like so for a while, then straightens up, proud. All the while the economy ticks in his pocket, setting the rhythm for the forest, the leaves, the ants and the words…


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