I can neither sing, nor play a musical instrument. I am devoid of musical talent, just like the rest of my family. Now, it is true that my mother could play the piano, although since she was completely tone deaf, I’m not sure that counts. My sister briefly imagined that she could play the drums, and I’m quite sure that that doesn’t count. My father simply ignored all matters musical.
Despite my family background, I yearned for music and musicality. Then when I was about ten or so, I fell in love with the musical possibilities of verse…with scansion, the pattern of stress in a poetic line, with meter, the units of that pattern, and, above all, with rhyme, the similar sounds that can be chosen to end the lines of a poem. I admired blank verse as well, poetry with meter, but no rhyme, but it seemed to me in those days that even the sublime work of Shakespeare didn’t have the same capacity to stick in the mind as subtly-rhymed verse. For me, the word “subtly” was important – the less you noticed the rhyme, the better.
As I grew older, I began to see the expressive possibilities that were inherent in other ways of writing poetry, and you will find elsewhere in this blog more mature work that digs deeper than my youthful work; poetry written when I was no longer intoxicated with rhyme. But I have never stopped yearning for the deep satisfaction that comes with a successful fit of rhyme.
The following poem, from 1970, is just that, a successful fit of rhyme, although the rhymes are perhaps not as subtle as I would have preferred. Still I found it satisfying, and I was particularly pleased with the unusual rhyme scheme:
I wonder if I should give the rhyme scheme a name?…No, it doesn’t need one, and neither does the poem.
“In Fall, the wood’s my favorite red.”
The youthful nature lover said.
“I like the orange and yellow, too,”
“But red’s the color, seems to me,”
“That every leaf was meant to be.”
I turned to leave the youth alone,
When underfoot, a sudden stone
Pierced the leather of my shoe.
It bled a bit; I plucked it out,
“The same,” I said, “For stones, no doubt.”