Poetry: Part 1 Words and Rhythm

Windblown whispers in a tear soaked sea
At the edge of the ruin cries the poet
There are no more words left in his heart
and no more tears left to cry
The golden voice is silent now
and nothing can be heard
only the whisper of the winds as she sighs
A piper in the wind

The above is a sample of a scrap of poetry I wrote a very long time ago, and yet (for the most part) I remember it.  Unlike my ditty from my first entry in this series, this actually evokes an emotional response (at least in me)

As I write it out,  it I can remember the feelings I had when I first wrote it, and yet each person reading it will take something else away from it.

Windblown whispers in a tear soaked sea…

I think what I like most about this line is the minor alliteration.  ‘Windblown whispers…’ As you read them, you’ll notice that these two words have a nice rhythm to to them.  It’s more than just four syllables: when you say it in normal speech there is a slight syncopation to ‘whispers’:  ‘whis’ gets a little less value than ‘pers’.

Most teachers will call this difference an accent.  Being a musician, I call it syncopation.  Whatever you call it: it’s rhythm.

So the words themselves not only build meaning, but the way they sound together adds something to tickle the ear, and can help give the poem it’s ‘feel’

Try saying the line ‘Windblown whispers in a tear soaked sea…’  in a steady beat, each syllable being given the same value as the next.   It feels awkward.  Now try saying it naturally and clapping on each syllable.

The first pattern is mechanical, but if you’re like me, when you say the line naturally there’s this nice rhythmic pattern that goes with the line.  Rhythm is more than a beat, it’s how you fill the beat.

I don’t always rhyme, in fact I rarely do… but without rhythm it’s just words.

Take some time out of the day, and listen to how people speak, the way their words flow.  If you can, tune out the words and just listen to the sound of speech.  Listen to the tone, but most importantly feel how the syllables come together, not in steady progression, but in a complex rhythmic flow.

This is what the rhythm of poetry is trying to mimic.

Until next time!

July 8, 2013

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