Rhyme Comes Around Full Circle
Poetry groups and movements or schools may be self-identified by the poets that form them or defined by critics who see unifying
characteristics of a body of work by more than one poet. To be a 'school' a group of poets must share a common style or a common ethos.
A commonality of form is not in itself sufficient to define a school; for example, Edward Lear, George du Maurier and Ogden Nash do not
form a school simply because they all wrote limericks.
Poetry groups and movements or schools may be self-identified by the poets that form them or defined by critics who see unifying
characteristics of a body of work by more than one poet. These movements begin with the Classical movement, which is the poetry that was
written long ago. It is structured poetry. The Neoclassical movement begins roughly around the eighteenth century and usually has images,
allusions, references to things or people of long ago. It is also structured poetry, and almost always, written in rhyme.
As you explore all of the different movements, among them you will find the Avante-garde, Metaphysical, Romantic, Idealistic,
Impressionistic, Modernistic, Naturalistic, Realistic movements, as well as others, until you get to the present movement in poetry
today called the imagistic movement, otherwise known as Imagism. Poetry today is all about imagery.
Imagism advocates free verse, poetry written without adhering to strict patterns of rhythm and rhyme, as well as new rhythmic effects,
colloquial language, and the expression of ideas and emotions with clear, well-defined images. The most important elements in imagist verse
are visual imagery and dry, clear language. You use the language of today to create the imagery you need to get the point across to the
reader. Here is where you find poets like T.E. Hulme (1883-1917), Ezra Pound (1892-1962), Richard Arlington (1892-1962), F.S.
Flint (1885-1960), and Hilda Dolittle (known as H.D. 1886-1961), But before these poets, there was Walt Whitman (1819-1892), a
naturalist poet, whose writing style revolutionized American literature. His use of free verse was perhaps the most important influence on
modern American poetry, and it is with Walt Whitman where we begin to see the decline of rhyming poetry in America.
Flash forward from Whitman to over a century-and-a-half in the future, and you have the current condition of rhyme in America: virtually non-
Pick up any publication which publishes poetry and you will find this to be true. Unless you're a famous poet, or an established poet, you will
rarely see a contemporary rhyming poem in print, unless it's an anthology of poetry in general, and then again, you might see included very
few poems of rhyming verse. However, there is an aroma of rhyme in the air, and it's headed our way.
Most recently, on November 8, 2006, Seton Hall University, in South Orange, New Jersey invited American poet Billy Collins, former Poet
laureate of the United States (1997-2000) to present his poetry as part of a literature course, particularly for the freshmen class. Although
Mr. Collins is highly regarded in the poetry community, his poetry was not well received by the majority of the students. How do I know this?
I personally know several of the students who attended the reading, and by acquaintance, met several of their friends.
I established an America Online connection so we could Instant Message each other, and I invited these students to chat with me and let me
know what they thought of Mr. Collins' poetry. In general, they agreed his poetry sounded more suited for people more Mr. Collins' age, and
they could not relate at all with the poems presented. But what I really wanted to know was, did they feel poetry should rhyme. I was
pleasantly surprised to find out the majority preferred rhyming poetry.
"But this proves nothing," I said. Then, I proceeded to show them how, even though they may not be aware of it, they were the rhyming poets
of the future, and that they were learning to rhyme right now!
I took examples from the Rap and Hip Hop world of music, and showed them how, by simply singing along with the songs, that they were
learning how to use alliteration, rhyming couplets, slant rhyme, end rhyme, internal rhyme, consonantal rhyme, assonantal rhyme, and partial
rhyme. Here are those examples:
True in the game, as long as blood is blue in my veins,
I pour a Heineken brew to my deceased crew on memory lane…
My songs can make you cry, take you by surprise at the same time
Can make you dry your eyes with the same rhyme
The years that I've wasted are nothing to the tears that I've tasted
I give sight to the blind, my insight's through the mind
I exercise my right to express when I feel it's time
My destiny's to rest at ease until I'm impressed and pleased
With my progress I'm on a quest to seize all, my own label to call
How to cope with the stress and hope for the best instead of mope and depressed
Always groping a mess of flying over the nest to selling dope with the rest
You critics want to criticize but couldn't visualize
individuals lives through a criminal's eyes
You can search but you'll never find, you can try to rewind time
But in your hearts and your minds we will never die,
We are forever alive and we continue growing, one day at a time.
Genocide re-synthesize to violence, makes it hard to sympathize
Individuals whose feelings is miniscule soon become criminals
if you dark-skinned
And you was raised in a project apartment
Public Aid made it that your father couldn't stay
He had to part then,
left with only a mother the family structure suffers
He will soon cling to hustlers, as his guardians
The best oh yes I guess suggest the rest should fess
Don’t mess or test your highness
Unless you just address with best finesse
And bless the paragraph I manifest
—Big Daddy Kane
I met a hermit named Kermit McDermott
with a learner's permit, curb swervin in a purple
Suburban Slurpin an orange sherbert Eatin a turnip
with the words "Dirty Dirty" written in cursive
on his Burberry turban
After these examples, most of the students admitted they hadn't thought about it that way. They were merely singing along with the songs. But
I let them know that these artists I mentioned were not the inventors of these rhyming elements. Take a look at the following:
The British feel these latest dealings verge on immorality.
The element of precedent imperils our neutrality.
We're rather vexed, your giving extraterritoriality.
We must insist you offer this to every nationality!
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers
—Percy Bysshe Shelley
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary...
Ah, distinctly I remember in was in the bleak December...
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain...
—Edgar Allan Poe
Whether we like it or not, our youth today is learning to rhyme. The popularity of these forms, Rap, Hip Hop, Reggae (which also rhyme),
Reggaeton, and others, is actually a stepping stone to rhyming poetry, particularly the various rhyming forms like the sonnet, villanelle, terza
rima, pantoum, quatrain, Heroic couplets, ballad, and many others.
All things considered, rhyming poetry can be considered a new field in poetry because America has been devoid of rhyme for many decades.
The new generation has basically only known non-rhyming verse. But people are starting to ask for rhyming poetry. This is evident by the
comments I have heard at The International Society of Poets poetry conventions, at The Geraldine R. Dodge poetry festivals, The Famous
Poets Society's conventions, and various poetry readings I attend. People are asking why there aren't any rhyming poetry contests. They are
asking why there isn't an International Rhyming Poets Society. They are asking, and I, for one, am listening. That's why I'm heavily into
rhyming poetry. That, and the fact that I truly love the beauty of rhyming verse.
Hopefully, one day, before I die, I will live to see the birth of a new movement in rhyme, which could probably be called the Rhymist
Movement. Only time will tell, but I already see the signs of its existence, and like all things that move in cycles, the cycle of rhyming poetry
has arrived. Every movement has come and gone, and maybe it's time we said, temporarily, until the next cycle, goodbye to free verse
poetry, and welcome in the Rhymist movement. Or, at the very least, see a co-existence between the two, whereby all new poets will be well-
rounded poets, and write in all the rhyming forms that exist, as well as free verse. There is only one free verse form, but many rhyming forms,
and I intend to write in as many rhyming forms as I can. Somewhere along the line, there will be a demand for masters in the art of rhyme, and
I'd like to be one of those masters.
FYI: The Different Movements of Poetry
To be a 'school' a group of poets must share a common style or a common ethos. A commonality of form is not in itself sufficient to define a
school; for example, Edward Lear, George du Maurier and Ogden Nash do not form a school simply because they all wrote limericks.
The Oral tradition is too broad to be a strict school but it is a useful grouping of works whose origins either predate writing, or belong to
cultures without writing. These include the sagas of which Beowulf is the most widely known.
Classical poetry echoes the forms and values of classical antiquity. Favouring formal, restrained forms, it has recurred in various
Neoclassical schools since the eighteenth century with poets such as Alexander Pope and T.S. Eliot.
Romanticism started in late 18th century Western Europe. It stressed strong emotion, imagination, and the importance of "nature" in
language and celebrated the achievements of those perceived as heroic individuals and artists. Romantic poets include William Blake, Lord
Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, James Macpherson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Robert Southey.
Pastoralism was originally a Hellenistic form, that romanticized rural subjects to the point of unreality. Later pastoral poets, such as
Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, and William Wordsworth, were inspired by the classical pastoral poets.
The Parnassians were a group of late 19th-century French poets, named after their journal, the Parnasse contemporain. They included
Charles Leconte de Lisle, Théodore de Banville , Sully-Prudhomme, Paul Verlaine, François Coppée, and José María de
Heredia. In reaction to the looser forms of romantic poetry, they strove for exact and faultless workmanship, selecting exotic and classical
subjects, which they treated with rigidity of form and emotional detachment.
Symbolism started in the late nineteenth century in France and Belgium. It included Paul Verlaine, Tristan Corbière, Arthur Rimbaud,
and Stephane Mallarmé. Symbolists believed that art should aim to capture more absolute truths which could be accessed only by indirect
methods. They used extensive metaphor, endowing particular images or objects with symbolic meaning. They were hostile to "plain meanings,
declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact description".
Modernist poetry is a broad term for poetry written between 1890 and 1970 in the tradition of Modernism. Schools within it include
Imagism and the British Poetry Revival.
The Imagists were (predominantly young) poets working in England and America in the early 20th century, including F. S. Flint, T. E.
Hulme, and Hilda Doolittle (known primarily by her initials, H.D.). They rejected Romantic and Victorian conventions, favoring precise
imagery and clear, non-elevated language. Ezra Pound formulated and promoted many precepts and ideas of Imagism. His "In a Station of
the Metro" (Roberts & Jacobs, 717), written in 1916, is often used as an example of Imagist poetry:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
The Objectivists were a loose-knit group of second-generation Modernists from the 1930s. They include Louis Zukofsky, Charles
Reznikoff, George Oppen, Carl Rakosi, Basil Bunting, and Lorine Niedecker. Objectivists treated the poem as an object; they emphasised
sincerity, intelligence, and the clarity of the poet's vision.
The Beat generation poets met in New York in the 1940s. The core group were Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs,
who were joined later by Gregory Corso.
The Confessionalists were American poets of a style that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. They drew on personal history for their
inspiration. Poets in this externally labelled group include Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, and Robert Lowell.
The New York School was an informal group of American poets active in 1950s New York City whose work was said to be a reaction to
the Confessionalist movement.
The Black Mountain poets (also known as the Projectivists) were a group of mid 20th century postmodern poets associated with Black
Mountain College in the United States.
The Fireside Poets (also known as the Schoolroom or Household Poets) were a group of 19th-century American poets from New
England. The group is usually described as comprising Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf
Whittier, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., who were the first American poets whose popularity rivaled that of
British poets, both at home and abroad.
The San Francisco Renaissance was initiated by the Objectivist Kenneth Rexroth and Madeline Gleason in Berkeley in the late
1940s. It included Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser. They were consciously experimental and had close links to Black
Mountain and the Beat poets.
The Movement was a group of English writers including Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Donald Alfred Davie, D.J. Enright, John Wain,
Elizabeth Jennings and Robert Conquest. Their tone is anti-romantic and rational. The connection between the poets was described as
'little more than a negative determination to avoid bad principles'—excess, in terms of theme and stylistic devices.
The British Poetry Revival was a loose poetic movement during the 1960s and 1970s. Its was a modernist reaction to the conservative
The Martian poets were English Surrealists of the 1970s and early 1980s including Craig Raine and Christopher Reid. Through the
heavy use of curious, exotic and humorous metaphors, Martian Poetry aimed to break the grip of 'the familiar' in English poetry, by describing
ordinary things as if through the eyes of a Martian. For instance, books are described by Raine as:
mechanical birds with many wings
perch on the hand
cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain
The Language School poets were avant garde United States poets from the last quarter of the 20th century. Their approach started with
the modernist emphasis on method. They were reacting to the poetry of the Black Mountain and Beat poets. The poets included: Bruce
Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ron Silliman, Barrett Watten, Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perlman, Michael Palmer, Rae Armantrout,
Carla Harryman, Clark Coolidge, Steve McCaffery, Hannah Weiner, Susan Howe, Tina Darragh, and Fanny Howe.
Post-modernism was a reaction to modernism.
Information obtained from Encarta Encyclopedia 2006.