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Why do
Rhyming Poems?


Do you like rhyming poetry? Don't worry: 
these are normal, human feelings,

and we're here to help.

You might begin with our literary magazine,

Beast Trees Anthology Cover For Luster P

But perhaps you've had people tell you that poetry "doesn't need to rhyme;" and when you've objected that you like it better when it does, perhaps they've intimated that this feeling makes you artistically unsophisticated.

Thankfully, it is possible to explain the desire for rhyming poetry in a more understanding way. 


There are many dimensions to speech. At each turn, it is possible to proceed in a more poetic direction, or in a less poetic direction.

Speech can be:

-aesthetic or ugly-

-inventive or realistic-

-intuitive or definitive- 

-implicit or explicit-

-figurative or literal-

-imaginative or technical-

-affective or informative-

-imitative or abstract-

-musical or artless-

-formal or casual-

-rhetorical or plain-

The aesthetic, inventive, intuitive, implicit, figurative, imaginative, affective, imitative, musical, formal, and rhetorical uses of speech are inherently more poetic.


The ugly, realistic, definitive, explicit, literal, technical, informative, abstract, artless, casual, and plain are less poetic.

We could discuss how to achieve any of these dimensions of poesy. But since we are discussing rhyme, our next point is that rhyme is a time-honored, beloved, and very effective way for speech to be musical. (Other ways are meter, rhythm, alliteration, and recitation with a musical instrument.) Our ancestors put love and passion into the development of these methods. They believed these methods to be inspired by divinities and angels.


And while some people believe these methods are used-up and worn-out, the truth is that they are new to every child born. No child is born tired of rhyme. Every child is born with an as-yet unsatisfied desire for something he does not know, which will turn out to be full, robust, and gorgeous poetry.


In the case of sensitive and uncorrupted persons, in fact, musical speech often remains new and fresh until the moment of death. Poets, editors, and critics who don't like rhyming poetry are like restaurant critics with indigestion, who go around complaining that the food is not bland enough. And people who say rhyming poetry is "jangly" are talking exactly like tone-deaf people talk about music. 

We must confess, however, that rhyme is not enough. People can write very nice rhymed verse that doesn't seem poetic to us. That happens when the other dimensions of poetic speech are ignored.

A rhymed verse that is ugly, realistic, definitive, explicit, literal, technical, abstract, informative, artless, casual, and plain is hardly going to make us feel the way full poetic verse feels.

But why should a poem lack anything? Why shouldn't a poem be as fully poetic as possible?

Square What Should Poetry Be Click Card.

To read about the nature of unsubtracted poetry in greater detail, click below.


["By now, in the light of contrast, we should see clearly the plenary poem. It is vigorously imitative, and for that reason is vigorously stylish, vigorously musical, and vigorously shapely.

It establishes a vigorous artistic distance between artless and artistic reality – between mere speech and poetic speech.

In the matter of selection, the poet vigorously exercises his authority to leave out some items and matters while including others, on the basis of virtue and effect.

The poet vigorously applies his skill in exaggerating or minimizing real speech’s various qualities for aesthetic effect.

Thus, the full poem is vigorously impactful – its maker has left off striving for a socially prestigious voice of moderation and subtlety, and has unashamedly produced a heightened imitation of speech, of unmistakably aesthetic character."

To read about the history of subtracted poetry in greater detail, click below.

Luster Pear Prouct Image Editorial Unsub



[Note: this essay is also available in the first issue of the AJIL as an editorial.}

"We shall write as the very nature of poetry demands: as if God were not dead, as if society were inherently the association of good men, as if counterfeit egalitarianism were no more than a nightmare of endless sameness from which any sane person might awaken.


And if we must be barbarians frolicking in occasional forgetfulness of Auschwitz (and of its present-day equivalent, Planned Parenthood) then we will be quite drunken, genuinely delighted barbarians. It is either that, or give up on poetry – actual poetry – for good.


We shan't, nohow. We shall assume that delight – no more, no less – is what poetry is really there for; and we shall disregard all doubts, which paralyze. We shall let down our hair, and get off our high horse. We shall wield our poetic authority, not to gain status, but in obedience to the true need of our fellow man to have restored what he has lost."

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