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Verbiage: Life Lesson: Compliment not to be main, free verse

Chacham (981) writes | more than 10 years ago

User Journal 11

Life's lessons are learned in strange ways, many times tailor-made to the person receiving it. Repeating the lessons can leave listeners in admiration and awe. Mention *how* those lessons were learned can often extract a chuckle, however. I learned a lesson from noodle soup.

Life's lessons are learned in strange ways, many times tailor-made to the person receiving it. Repeating the lessons can leave listeners in admiration and awe. Mention *how* those lessons were learned can often extract a chuckle, however. I learned a lesson from noodle soup.

I used to eat Goodman's Noodle soup, chicken flavor. The box has two foil packets, each filled with a salty powder and dried noodles. About eight minutes of cooking, and a nice bowl of soup is ready. There's even the added treat of licking the leftover powder from the foil package. Mmmmm... salty powder granules.

For me, the noodles did it. When i finished the noodles, the soup was at best mediocre. And, the more noodles on the spoon, the better. As such, i got into the habit of eating less noodles at first to enjoy a greater amount of noodles at the end (typical J activity: work now, play later). I got better at this, depending on my mood, and my willingness to sacrifice the first spoonfuls to have that perceived enjoyment at the end. And it paid off. Those hearty spoonfuls at the end were fantastic.

That was when i had the Great Idea. I decided to have *all* the soup alone, a bitter task, and then dive into the dilection of straight noodle. I did it. I drank the bland soup, and the lack of noodles only heightened my awareness of the pleasure soon to come. Finally finishing from frantically feeding. And then before me lay the reward. Half a cup of noodles.

I went in for the first spoonful, a heaping full share of noodles. I tried to eat it, and spit it out. It was disgusting. The noodles were more flavorless than the soup. Yuck! So much for that. It was then that i realized that the noodles complimented the soup. The more noodles the better, as long as it remained a compliment. One it became the main part. Well, it became a tasteless compound.

I find a parallel in art and verse. Art, especially paintings, can construe reality in an odd way to evoke emotional response. Paint a face but make part of it green, or build a beautiful scene but over-blur the background, or even the foreground. The added color or non-realism adds to the affect. However, if the color becomes the main part, it is simply tasteless. It's a pretty wrapper with empty insides. Kind of like a Democrat. As such, modern art seems overwhelmingly stupid to me. Like the completely unclad, one must train themselves to enjoy it. Sure, once trained the ingrained response is had, but ultimately it is false.

Verse has similar reactions. There is a structure to verse and poetry. Whether it be rhymes or syllabic count, it is there. Use it as the main thing, and the other effects such as spacing, the occasional break, or a sentence out of the order, can heighten the pleasure. However, make it the main part, and it's silly. It's worthless. It's thought with no form, like the slashdot user that posts some knee-jerk response exposing either the socialistic or the conservative view, whichever just then satisfies his self-centered Weltanschauung.

I was speaking about this with a friend. I believe that in poems, free verse must be earned through rigid cooperation with the barriers or rhyme. Otherwise all is nothing. Kind of like this JE.

11 comments

as a poet (1)

SolemnDragon (593956) | more than 10 years ago | (#8532086)

i can tell you somthing that frequently gets overlooked.

i don't think about it.

Seriously. I pay no bloody attention to the syllables in a line, it just happens. shards and shards of stolen sleep has a rhythm to it that's different from and jagged bits of dream and i don't count. i don't strive for rhymes. i don't even reach for them- they show up and leap into the verse.

Many artists i know work this way- painting not because 'it needs a touch of surreality," but because, "GREEN. i need GREEN..."

Art happens as a process, and for many of us, that process is a matter of feel rather than of recipe. In much the way that a cook who's been doing it awhile no longer needs to check the recipe, we taste it, and say... this needs salt, this needs tarragon, this needs to flow with another two lines repeating the first...

My point is that you're right, but that art doesn't come as a soup in a box most of the time- or even a deliberately cooked one. Sometimes the pen hits the paper and there it is, fallen out in one big mess. And there may be revisions in the second draft, but not because it has to fit a rigid frame- it's not a bunch of leaves strapped to a skeleton- it's a tree. The revisions just trim off dead leaves leaving the whole tree profile free and clear. When i take out all the excess words... i have my poem. Like Da Vinci said- he sees the angel in the stone and carves to set him free.

other than that, your analogy is dead-on. Rhyme and rhythm are present in our language, and a verse for the sake of a verse might as well be "Mary had a little lamb." I should know, because my first stuff was awful. i still say Don Marquis is my favourite vers libre poet, and theodore roethke my favourite poet of all. ("and one is one, free in the tearing wind...")

Re:as a poet (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 10 years ago | (#8532865)

Very good point. It does reflect your experience with the tools of poetry, however. A novice painter needs to learn the tools. An advanced painter may be an expert with oils and brush. But to an artist, the tools are transparent (which is exactly the point that you are making). This transparency is typically the result of a lot of practice. Meter, rhyme, and syllabic structure are still things that the less-experienced must regard when writing a poem.

Looking at this, I think that I just agree with you. :-) I'm reminded of the aphorism that a true sculptor just removes all of the stone that is not the statue.

Roethke, hmmm... Can you recommend any specific instances? I don't have enough to read these days... :-)

Re:as a poet (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8533128)

Well, i actually consider verse to be something else. A short succinct sentence, that has more meaning than it would seem. That, though, is a different pleasure than a poem. A poem's pleasure comes from the soothing rhyme and meter, whereas verse comes from the apparent contradiction in how little can say so much.

Verse has the added effect that the reader accepts it more readily for two reasons. One, it is not blocked. Two, he wants to enjoy it. It is not blocked because it is not said outright, and as such the reader does not put up his normal defense mechanism. It is listened to as the reader actually figures out the message himself, thus putting his own self into the end result, making him want to listen. Also, that same work would also be seen as wasted in a useless effort, so he'll give it a little more listening, depending on the work he invested.

I have written verse as well. The best ones are actually silly, if you know the back story. Perhaps i'll post it.

A response, a brief poem. (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8533627)

I know I tend to write verse as it flows, without thinking about it, as Solemn said above.

Rhyming poetry has never worked for me, though--it ALWAYS comes out forced, and until I shifted to free verse, I could never improve past a certain point in my writing ability. (is my difficulty with rhyme possibly related to my dyslexia?)

That having been said, while I don't explictly COUNT syllables and plan out rhymes, I write according to a VERY strict rule--if it doesn't sound good, if it doesn't fit the rhythm I'm trying to march to, it gets tossed.
A lot of people who have liked my poetry have said that it seems very formless and chaotic at first until they read it with pauses at line breaks and such, and then the rhythm falls into place with them and leads them along the path I took to write it.

I guess I'm both agreeing and disagreeing with you, in that I agree that there must be some organizing force to distinguish poetry from arbitrary verses tossed on a page, but I also think that my poetry isn't disorganized or haphazard just because you don't see the rhythms the way I do when writing. =)

And I used to be able (with use of many dictionary+program tools to help with rhyme) to write sonnets on a fairly regular basis. Had I not had that experience, I'd imagine my free verse would be rather awful instead of moving where I want it to.

Final question: Is conscious use of alliteration/assonance/consonance considered an acceptable substitute for a rhyme scheme?

Final thought: Your JE provoked yet more verse from me. =P

I don't understand the fixation on apparent form.
Apparent form is all well and good
but should one choose to dig
There may well be more subtle forces at work.
Things below your radar used sublty
to drag your brain along.
My advice? Let the poetry just flow freely
If you don't like it, that's okay
But at least I moved you

Even if in dislike.

Re:A response, a brief poem. (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8534653)

(is my difficulty with rhyme possibly related to my dyslexia?)

Probably not. Though, being i don't understand dyslexia very well, i cannot answer that properly.

if it doesn't sound good, if it doesn't fit the rhythm I'm trying to march to, it gets tossed.

Just a few minutes ago i read what Jolande Jacobi said to explain (what Jung meant when he explained) the difference between thinking and feeling. Thinking is true/false. Feeling is pleasant/unpleaant. (Don't mix this up with the MBTI's F preference, which while the same thing, explains it slightly differently.)

Being i want to check the meter to define its worthyness, that is thinking (thinking is my auxiallary process). You just want it to sound good--sound pleasant--and that is feeling.

A lot of people who have liked my poetry have said that it seems very formless and chaotic at first until they read it with pauses at line breaks and such, and then the rhythm falls into place with them and leads them along the path I took to write it.

What they meant to say is, it *is* formless and seems chaotic. Two excellent words. Formless means without rhyme, meter, or structure. Chaotic means without order. Poems do not have to have order. Order can be inferred by the reader, though this may mean that they have to read the author for a while to find what the author in saying, and thus find the inherent order. This does nothing for form, however. As such, in can be said that they originally saw it as formless and chaotic, and after a while found it to be formless and orderly.

Order does not have to be given, though must be understood in order to appreciate it. Ostensibly, the purpose of the art form is to generate thought. Not just any thought, but a more specific one (doesn't have to be a pin point, but even a large section means order). I want form, however. Then again, Js want form, Ps don't care much for it as long as it works. As such, as a TJ, i want form and order. I'd guess you were an FP, which would explain formless and chaos.

Is conscious use of alliteration/assonance/consonance considered an acceptable substitute for a rhyme scheme?

No.That's like cream on the cake. The main point isn't there. Like using the same letter at the beginning of each word in a thought/sentence. (E.G. Finally finishing from frantically feeding.) It adds flavour, but is by no means the main dish.

Even if in dislike.

Had the first paragraph been with form, the separation or out of order sentence here would be fantastic. Given the formlessness, however, it lost all meaning to me. I do appreciate the effort, however.

Anyway, here's quickie. Being just a few minutes this has no real worth. Just a quick try at forced emotion, to show the example of breaking form to mean even more so. I don't think free verse can compare to this style. The break from form is inherently emotional, only when it is a break, and not the norm.

I come to read such beautiful verse,
from people full of feeling,
and thoughts they speak and are quite terse,
the style leaves me reeling.

Why oh why don't they care?

Alas, forsooth, my trepid soul,
I read such verse, so foul,
And yet, oh yet, i'm full of hope,
I shall not throw the towel.

I know they want to!

I am so full, just full of hope,
that one day they will see,
they'll come to see the form to use,
and write with all their glee.

They day shall truly come! It must!

For once upon that day that comes,
When expression is so true,
All shall come, and try somewhat,
and each shall find their lieu.

Re:A response, a brief poem. (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535765)

As for personality type, I can't remember the letter designations but I recall tending to float in the vicinity of Mastermind/Architect, depending on the specific questions asked (I want to say that's the boundary between INTJ and INTP), although I do feel that poetry is an escape from my usual self.

As for my poem, I actually went a bit out of my way to make it have a form, albiet not one readily described in terms you'd associate with form. Each of the stanzas accelerated, and I was trying (it felt a bit forced in places) to maintain a consistent sort of rhythm through my three stanzas (which you seem to have interpreted as a single paragraph--not my intention *g*)
Looking back on it, I have stanzas with syllable lengths of 14-9-6, 11-9-6, 12-8-6. In refinement, I'd make those consistent instead of similar, but for a scratch poem the basic effect is much more important to me--I can revise from here, whereas if I focus on syllables and meter and such, I lose all power of emotion and have nothing to work with in subsequent revisions.

Next question: If the syllable count were exact across the stanzas, would that be sufficient form for your taste? If not, do you have any appreciation for haiku?
(I cut my poetic teeth on haiku, but in keeping with advice of several english haiku writers, I no longer even focus on syllables there--the form is more subtle than that in languages which are not Japanese, though it is rigid and exists)

As for your poem, I can't honestly say i like the rhyme scheme, and it feels like you forced the breakout lines, but give it a rev or two and it'll go places (a solid foundation, there).

Re:A response, a brief poem. (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8537281)

Mastermind/Architect

The major difference between INTP and INTJ, is that in the INTP the T is dominant, and in the J the N is dominant. Thus, the INTP has a more artisan side, whereas the INTJ jumps to the idealist.

From your writing style, i'd assume P though. Js really want order, and probably would appreciate the more rigid poem.

whereas if I focus on syllables and meter and such, I lose all power of emotion and have nothing to work with in subsequent revisions.

For the beginner, the poem should be written in rhyme, disregarding the meter. Knowledge of the meter should be there, but no compromises should really be made to meet it. Once a stanza or two is out, the writer can go back and correct it for the meter. It's gets easier with practice, almost to the point where it is hardly noticeable.

If the syllable count were exact across the stanzas, would that be sufficient form for your taste?

Perhaps it would add to it. Though, my personal preference is the rhyme. The rhyme is a rule, forcing form. The syllabic count is simply a method to flavor it. A rhyme with no meter is still a rhyme, albeit a poor one.

If not, do you have any appreciation for haiku?

Nope. Well, other than that one time that Mrs. Kue said "Hi <last name>" to me. I basically responded "three-line seventeen-syllable Japanese poem", and after a moment she chuckled. And that's about the extent of my appreciation for it. :)

I can't honestly say i like the rhyme scheme, and it feels like you forced the breakout lines,

You are correct, they were forced. In fact, i would never really use it in that situation. It was just an example that i threw together in less than five minutes to show what i meant.

I've used the basic method successfully, but i am not willing to share those. FWIW, the method is a very old one, where my personal exposure to it comes from the "piyutim" and "selichos" additions to some of the Jewish prayers. They have a variety of styles, and they have definitely had an affect on me.

Re:A response, a brief poem. (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8542650)

If not, do you have any appreciation for haiku?

Nope.

I think this is the fundamental breakdown of our disagreement, personally. The problem, of course (IMHO) is the silly insistence of English-speaking teachers to teach haiku as JUST 5-7-5 syllable patterns when that's really the LEAST important part...

Of course, the important parts of haiku are sublte seasonal references and the idea (lacking in English) of a "cutting" word or phrase, where the poem shifts direction abruptly at some point--Haiku traditionally being closely associated with Zen.

Now I might have to do a journal entry on THAT...

Anyway, agree to disagree?

Re:A response, a brief poem. (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8543064)

the important parts of haiku are sublte seasonal references and the idea (lacking in English) of a "cutting" word or phrase, where the poem shifts direction abruptly at some point--Haiku traditionally being closely associated with Zen.

Interesting, thanx.

Anyway, agree to disagree?

Nope. I think "agreeing to disagree" is a cop out. Do i agree that you are entiled to your own opinion, and that i will respect your right to have that opinion--no matter how incorrect it may be--simply because it is something that you believe? Yes.

Re:A response, a brief poem. (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8543221)

Nope. I think "agreeing to disagree" is a cop out. Do i agree that you are entiled to your own opinion, and that i will respect your right to have that opinion--no matter how incorrect it may be--simply because it is something that you believe? Yes.

In that case, I shall continue to believe you lack artistic sense as well. =)

Re:A response, a brief poem. (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8543410)

I shall continue to believe you lack artistic sense as well.

Um, thanx. :-P
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