Sunday, January 04, 2009

'aabb', 'abab' and others

The other day, I was chatting with a friend about poetry. He was saying that he likes poems that rhyme and in fact went on to say, “If there is no rhyme at all, I wonder what the difference between poetry and prose is”. It set me thinking.
I have always found it nice and soothing to read poems that rhyme. Somehow, they get more understandable when there is some rhyming scheme, be it an ‘aabb’ or an ‘abab’ or any such thing. On the other hand, I cannot get myself to write poems that rhyme perfectly. It somehow feels forced when I sit down to write a poem and spend hours chewing the end of my pen trying to fit in rhyming lines such as
“I am a flower
In a pearly tower”
In my opinion, considering rhyme to be a predominant parameter of poetry, one that defines poetry, is quite juvenile. For that matter, prose too can rhyme (the way our most versatile Tamil actor cum director cum musician cum what-not TR talks it).
Poetry is a literary form that expresses a lot of meaning and/ or emotion in a very suggestive and beautiful manner. In the process of delivering an aesthetic poem, a poet might use various techniques including simile, metaphor, alliteration, hyperbole, personification and so on. Rhyme is just one of those techniques.
All said and done, rhyme, when used the right way, is a tremendous tool. And, I have forever been envious of people who can write poems that get enhanced twice over ‘cos of the rhyming scheme employed in them.
P.S.: ‘A Suitable Boy’, a brilliant novel by Vikram Seth, is a must read for people who would love to read rhyming poetry as part of the novel.


மணிகண்டன் (Manikandan K S) said...


Consider for example the Japanese poetry form - Haiku. Short (less than equal to three lines) but independent as a poem. Haikus normally describe an experience.

But rhyming poems are great for memorizing. The one poem that all of us still remember is "Jack and Jill went up the hill" :)

மணிகண்டன் (Manikandan K S) said...

Maybe the difference between prose and poem is that you have to follow rules while writing poems. Each poetry form - be it haikus or venbas or sonnets - has rules regarding structure. Prose is freestyle.

Denzil said...

Since u confessed ur love for poetry and rhyme, may be this post that i found in general orkut exploration might stimulate your visual pallet :)

Shreya said...

I think poetry is all about feeling. The rules are retrospective in nature, as in, Shakespeare wrote this particular format of poetry and they came to be known as sonnets and henceforth whoever would write sonnets would write them in the same 14-line format.

kavity said...

@ Mani & Shreya: Sets me thinking as to whether the poems I write are mere Prose after all! But, looking at what S has to say, I tend to agree with her. When I write a poem, I should not and will not sit down and think whether it matches the rules of a sonnet or a jhaiku or whatever else. Will just kill the emotion.
@ Denzil: That was a cool link. Thanks :)

The Corporate Idiot said...

The difference between prose and poetry is, in my opinion, Poetry uses the minimum possible words to express things whereas prose has the liberty to use words lavishly. For example, Thirukkural, Haiku(s)...

I remember something that happened long back, when I showed my cousin's Kavidhai written for our college competition that was pretty nicely rhyming. My Father who is a Tamil Scholar, responded "Kavidhaikku than Vaarthai, Varthaikkaga Kavidhai illai"

BTW, I have posted my blog on Ambigrams !!!

Bihag Bhatt said...

Poetry, rhyming and meters.

The ever intriguing trinity of literature. Rhyme and meter are the ornaments and make-up of the poetry. They beutify the poetry, but they are not the beauty unto themselves.

If they suppress the thought or idea of poetry, they should be done away with.

A gujarati poet used to say, Meter is like a payal for the poetry. Whoever thinks it is an ornament should wear it, whoever think it is a burden should get rid of it.

Vinay said...

yeen peru raaka,
naa irukken sooka,
Ket paru da nakkamukka,
ey dandanakaa danankunaka,

Thats TR-ish style for u

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

Vikram Seth's works are most lyrical, I agree