Spontaneous Exercise: rhyme vs. rhythm
Inspired by A.C. Missias:
Anyone want to try this?
Did I just do it? <g>
This looks like fun to me -- trying to make rhyme and deliberately NOT use rhythm at the
same time. I just spotted an internal rhyme in that sentence, and the sentence definitely
doesn't have meter; I'm wondering if coming up with rhyming lines and NOT scanning might
really be easier. <g>
Come to think of it, Ogden Nash is a pretty good example of rhyme without rhythm. Welsh
poetry has a definite rhythm to it, but no formal rhythmic structure -- all the formal
poetics in Welsh refer to patterns of rhyme, alliteration, assonance and consonance. Japanese
haiku has no meter -- but then, it doesn't usually rhyme either. <g>
If anyone wants to try it, there is an unusual verse form I just discovered called the
limeraiku, that has rhyme but no emphasis on rhythm. The limeraiku uses the limerick rhyme
scheme AABBA, in 17 syllables -- 3 lines, 5-7-5. The rhymes do not have to come at any set
interval -- they just have to come in the right pattern.
My first limeraiku:
needs two rhymes (used five times)
plus wit (which I blew).
That's four verse forms I can think of that you can play with, to try
using rhyme without rhythm:
- Grotesque verse -- I am not being rude, that is the technical
term for the kind of rhymes created by twisting words to fit. Examples:
Hark to the whimper of the sea-gull:
He weeps because he's not an ea-gull.
Suppose you were, you silly sea-gull,
Could you explain it to your she-gull?
~ Ogden Nash
My family has a hippo --
one lonely hippopotamus.
We ride astride his hippo hide
while sitting on our bottomus.
Our hippo is so lonely,
I've thought that since we got him I
should get one more so they would be
two happy hippopotami.
~ Kenn Nesbitt at Poetry
A wonderful bird is the Pelican,
His bill can hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.
~ Dixon Lanier Merritt (often incorrectly attributed to Ogden
All of these verses have rhythm, but the same technique can be used without
- I don't know what you call it -- grotesque rhythm? -- but
two writers I know start out on rhyme-rhythm tracks and twist the end,
deliberately derailing the reader:
I got Grist in My Teeth!
or Opus 13, My Life Stinks
I cannot contain my elation:
I have an unplanned vacation!
Sure, my life stinks
(And bosses are dinks)
But: due to the fact that I have worked my ass off for the past six years to earn a
living rather than take payment for that permanent mental disability I am now gratefully
fortunate (thanks largely to the Great Depression and its attendant Administration - I
love you Rosy! I really do! I will vote Democrat forever, just because of you!) that I am
going to be able to live like a jolly starving dog for up to half a year by means of
jolly unemployment compensation.
~ Copyright Dr. Wes Browning
Friends brought flowers and sacred scents
to the home of the Buddha of Life's Knocks and Dents
they fed him, clothed him and offered to pay the rent,
but he refused and was late for a meeting.
~ Jeffrey Hart (I call this form the Jefftrain)
- Welsh poetry
I am sure there is much else out there to be found or invented. Trying to deliberately
write *without* rhythm could be a useful warm-up to future exercises where we study formal
rhythm. Or, at least, fun. <g>