Friday, October 5, 2007

Poets, do you know your feet?

Poets, do you know your feet? I mean, of course, metric feet, i.e. iambs, trochees, anapests, dactyls, and their kins.
As you set out to navigate the slimy waters of the net, you are going to meet legions of wannabe poets. College boys and girls, housewives, corporate executives, scientists, loafers, millionaires, their vast nation knows no boundaries. Nothing wrong with that, make no mistake: the impulse that prompts us to engrave a fleeting moment, a searing emotion, a delicate mood, is innate and holy. It is healthy and noble to try one's hand at poetry, and share with friends and loved ones our newborn creatures. Nevertheless, if you aspire to write verses that stand a chance to last, it is imperative to remember the Horacian labor limae, the meticulous work of the mental chisel that polishes and repolishes our first attempts, till they truly shine.

So, how do you start? By learning how to march on your feet (it just occurred to me that metric feet are real feet indeed, to stand, walk and run). Poetry was born to be sung, aeds and bards were the first poets. They will be the last ones, too.

Rhythm is the soul of poetry, and rhythm is living arithmetic: one-TWO, one-TWO, one-TWO (a iamb), or ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three (a dactyl)....

Thus, here is how you begin: read out loud your verses, and listen. The sound will not betray you.


andrew said...

You should read up on William McGonagall, thought to be the worst poet who ever lived (though he now has thousands of MySpacers vying for the title).

Proto-Dadaist or sufferer of a social disorder? Fascinating character either way.

Polymathicus said...

Thanks Andrew! I have never heard of this fellow before, but he certainly seems like a fascinating & extravagant character. Perhaps worth a separate post...

PS I have just read a few of his lines. Pretty bad indeed, however the contention that is the worst poet ever is a bit of a stretch. A simple search over the net will convince anyone that this world has no shortage of bad verses.