Rhyme or No Rhyme, That Is The Question

Rhyme or No Rhyme
Illustration by Saad Hasib
 

Now, what amount of poetic expertise
Would be ample enough – I do not know.
I know, some things are stirring in the distance –
A butterfly and a hundred such crows.
Listen to the wind, and listen closely,
The wind has a tale to tell.

Rhyme is considered as something very fundamental to poetry. The simplest way to ever describe a poem would be to call them words that rhyme. However, rhyme is not an immanent aspect of a poem. 

A huge number of people believe that the best kind of poetry is one that has some sort of rhyme. There’s no doubt that the ability to rhyme is a great talent. At the same time, not being able to rhyme is not a lacking of any kind.

With every age came a new type of poetry. There may exist a hierarchy in terms of succession, but that’s it. No one form of poetry is better than the other. 

In today’s age, the very definition of what is and isn’t poetry is not only changing but also expanding. After all, we are all poets now, we all write, we all feel. 

So, what would be the 2021 definition of poetry? Anything written from the heart that has a melody to it is poetry, or so I’d like to say.

Even though they call it a river
It’s actually a dream.

I once came across a person who said that poems have to rhyme. As they were very good at rhymes and I wasn’t, and as they felt superior to me for that very reason and I accepted it, I felt my inability to rhyme meant I could never be a good poet. 

I tried to rhyme but failed miserably. At one point, luckily so, I gave up on rhymes. I decided that I’ll write what I feel, and if it sounds good to me that will be enough. And just like that words flew out of my fingertips and started appearing on the screen in front of me.

In this city
It’s always quite quiet
You could hear the trains arriving 
Bringing lost souls to their homes
And taking aboard those who don’t have any yet.

Personally, I’m more of a fan of playing with words (not wordplay) than rhymes. I like twisting sentences, tearing down their simplicity, and bringing out something melodious. One can say that’s because I can’t rhyme. To be honest, I’m not a fan of structure altogether. That’s why I will never be writing a haiku or a sonnet. But free verse I’ll do. In fact, the popularity of free verse in today’s date is astounding. Maybe this “structure” is freeing, not restricting.

It was a sound,
Yes, it was a voluminous sound.
It came very quietly, very very quietly,
It came as the song built up itself,
It came as the words became lyrics,
It came as the lyrics filled up the brain,
It came as the brain slowly started to feel.

So, as a budding poet, should you concern yourself with rhymes? No. Not entirely.

Rhyme or no rhyme – there’s no answer to this question. In all honesty, this question doesn’t matter to me at all. And I’d like it to be the case for you too.

When I first learned about scansions, it really bothered me. Somebody dissected poems, things that existed before any rule was imposed upon them, and put forward endless rules without which, they declared, one can’t write poems. Something arbitrary was taken as a standard and now we have to live with it.

Whether it was my stupidity or my inherent reluctance, I couldn’t learn scansion. 

All of what I said so far can be taken as a postmodernist approach to poetry, or literature as a whole. Simply put, it’s about breaking down structure and rebuilding it anew, without being limited by standards and forms.

So far, I’ve only been talking against rhyme, but that doesn’t mean I’m against it. I’m only against the idea of considering only a particular style of poetry best, and the rest as something less.

One day
All that will remain of this
Is nothing. 

There are smokes on the road
In the houses on top of skyscrapers
In the eyes of those who are lost
And the worst of its kind is now soaring
From the heart of the great Amazon. 

Written by: Atanu Roy Chowdhury

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