Hiawatha rhythm

Donald D. Markstein ddmarkstein at cox.net
Sun Jul 9 02:16:11 CEST 2006

In NINE-teen-NINE-ty-NINE i WROTE an AR-ti-CLE a-BOUT this TOP-ic. I 
have POS-ted IT where MEM-bers OF this LIST can TAKE a LOOK.

BY the WAY, it IS-n't HARD to WRITE in RHY-thm, AND "the SONG of 
HI-a-WA-tha" ("KA-le-VA-la" IF you're EU-ro-PE-an) IS a-MONG the 
SIM-plest. JUST in CASE you HAVE-n't NO-ticed (OR are USED to O-ther 
WAYS of READ-ing EN-glish) I'VE been US-ing "HI-a-WA-tha" RHY-thm THIS 
en-TI-re MESSage.

Of course, the syllables aren't as heavily accented as I've indicated, 
but if you read it in a normal speaking voice, you'll see that they're 
right where they should be. Like I said earlier, the first paragraph 
would be better done with a non-accented syllable transposed from the 
beginning to the end (Hiawatha starts with an accented one and each line 
ends with a non-accented one), but geez, it's just a mailing list comment.

If you still can't see it, okay, I've got no quarrel with you. Lots of 
people deny what's perfectly obvious to me.Off-list, I got a note from a 
surprising source, which was doubly surprising in the vigor with which 
the writer disagreed that I'd written two little paragraphs in meter. I 
can't see it mattering that much.

cgeraci at insightbb.com (sorry, but I'm not seeing your name on the 
message), you are absolutely correct about this not being poetry for the 
ages. Writing in rhythm is purely a mechanical operation. You could 
train a monkey to do it, if the monkey happened to be fluent in the 
language. For poetry (for the ages or not), you need a lot more.

A writing acquaintance of mine, seeing a Bucky Bug script I'd written 
(Bucky is written in meter AND RHYME) once remarked that for all the 
different things he'd written, he'd never succeeded at poetry. I 
vehemently denied that a Bucky Bug script is even remotely like poetry. 
It's written in four-beat iambic verse, and it rhymes. It's designed to 
amuse children. That's all.

Many years ago, when I was in CAPA-alpha (an amateur press alliance 
devoted to comic books), Tony Isabella (now an Internet columnist) used 
to justify his margins without adding spaces to the lines -- he'd 
compose the words so they justified by themselves. I responded by 
writing a normal-sounding comment to him, where you could read the 
Secret Message by looking at the first letter of each line.

That's all mechanical stuff. When I was younger, I did it as mental 
calisthenics, to hone my writing ability. Like keyboard exercises for 
piano students -- and it bears the same relationship to poetry -- or any 
kind of actual content -- as keyboard exercises bear to music.

Maybe I should go back to exercises, and learn more. Ad-libbing in 
iambic pentameter -- yeah, I wouldn't mind being THAT good at it!

Now, have we discussed this topic to death yet?

Quack, Don

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