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Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.



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Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Because There Is No Ending" by Pimone Triplett -- Poetry Daily, 5/23/2013

from Ploughshares (Spring 2013)
poem found here

 

First lines:
we are not asked to see, the ridged folds
of the black walnuts, fallen, come veined

 

accidental meter and rhyme

— edited, with a paragraph that was somehow lost in the writing put back at the end 5/28/13
— reformatted 9/30/15

I've commented on this before, I believe. And I always find it very funny when it happens. What I am usure of is how many other people hear it. I am sure the poet here doesn't hear it, or it wouldn't exist.*see note at end (I know full well if I caught it in one of my own works and did not want to structure the poem around it, I would squelch it, so the words on the page were not working against my aims.)

What I'm talking about is accidental rhythm and rhyme. Let me give you the first seven lines:

we are not asked to see, the ridged folds
of the black walnuts, fallen, come veined
as any mind split from its skull, leaching
what little parades as peace. Rot
and wet. My right instep, sneaker's
underneath, crushes a once greener skin
gone brackish at the cap. Looking up,

Did you hear it?

Starting with line 4:

ROT and WET. My RIGHT inSTEP,
SNEAKer's UNderNEATH,
CRUSHes a ONCE GREENer SKIN
gone BRACKish AT the CAP.

It's ballad measure, though only with an internal rhyme. Except not only, because it there is also a partial stanza above it. Let me redo, with slightly different stanza breaks, typing it as two partial stanzas:

what LITtle paRADES as PEACE
ROT and WET. My RIGHT inSTEP,
SNEAKer's UNderNEATH,

CRUSHes a ONCE GREENer SKIN
gone BRACKish AT the CAP.

So it's set up both by the wet/instep rhyme, and by the peace/-neath rhyme. And notice I'm not forcing the phrasing: the phrasing matches the lines quite naturally. And believe, the first time I read the poem, I fell right into the rhythms. (How could I not with the wet/step rhythms?)

But there's more! It actually keeps going, only this time with the XAXA rhyme:

LOOKing UP, the BRANCHes MEET
in an ARCH you CAN walk UNder,
PASS THROUGH. And DOWN the ROAD,
when I HEAR the PAtient FAther

Now, I'm sure you are saying that kind of has to be a rather easy thing to have occur, especially if you are writing verse with a rhythm (as this poem is pretty much iambic). And I may -- may -- agree with you. But, as I said, if I was writing this and caught it, I would either change the lines so they fit with the meter and play with the meter, or rewrite to get rid of the meter. I don't want metered (and rhymed) stanzas existing within my free verse poem, if only because people like me are going to hear it and say, "Are you so tone and rhythm deaf you don't hear the ballad measure in the middle of your own poem?"

There are other problems with this poem, some grammar issues, but especially with wording (there, not so much error-type problems as problems with flow and rhythms). Those problems rather reinforce the idea that the poet wasn't listening to their own poem. But even without it: it's got to be a little embarrassing; for it is definitely very funny.

 


Of course, there's another question: how did the editors of the vaunted Ploughshares not hear it?

 


I see two possibilities as concerns the making of this poem worth mentioning. (1) That Triplett started the poem writing in rhymed rhythm, and abandoned the effort, and hoped those moments of meter that survived rewrite would not be found. And (2) that Triplett actually has a natural ear for rhythm/rhyme, and her writing wants to go there. If the latter was the guess, my only comment would be "Charge forth!"

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