Thursday, June 10, 2010

Aimless Reading: The H's, Part 25 (John Hollander)

Rhyme's Reason
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Hollander, John
Rhyme's Reason

Picked up this and another by John Hollander online a few years back. I was reading a lot about meter and his books came up in one of the bibliographies I was using. I have only the vaguest of recollections of the book, except to say that it seemed more to have been written for someone with almost no experience of poetry, most likely a younger reader.

He's fond of demonstrating formal techniques in a kind of self-reflexive manner, wherein the content of the poem is a literal description of the form or meter it utilizes. Glancing through the table of contents I notice he lists concrete poetry and pattern poems under the label of "aberrant forms." He also includes something under the title called "antiverse," which he defines as "a kind of rhymed free verse." He uses Ogden Nash as an example, which kind of tells you all you need to know about Hollander's limited interest in poetry written after 1900–to put Nash under the same banner as Apollinaire is just plain wrong.

from Rhyme's Reason

Couplets can be of any length,
And shorter size gives greater strength
Sometimes–but sometimes, willy-nilly,
Four-beat couplets sound quite silly.
(Some lines really should stay single:
Feminine rhymes came make them jingle.)

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