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      This is not about

      free verse,

      not poetry for the mind's eye,
      bare words arranged
      across the page as if


      were measured out in lines.

      If I wish to confess
      inner monologues
      kaleidoscope visions of Lucy in the sky
      whose diamonds burst the limits of the printed page
      perhaps then I will howl freely.
      But I will not call it verse.

          Nor is it galloping couplets of rhyme
            In dactylic, trochaic, iambic time.
          Why should I gallop with lassoes on feet,
            Chasing wild rhymes till I'm tempted to cheat?
          English is English, a strong-stressed speech,
            Saxon and savage (though Chaucer did teach
          Sonnets Italian and ballads from France,
            Measures whose rhythms are perfect for dance.)
          I will not struggle to order each word
            In a strict anapestic and singsongy herd.

      For rhythm can run ragged along
      harsh, hard as the hand of death
      when plague prospers and men perish,

      I will sing softly when my song demands it,
      modulate my meaning by the movement of my words
      up, down or onward as my art requires.

      There are few who feel freedom in the beat
      of Beowulf's rhythms, few bards and fewer
      who love alliteration and look back
      to old arts for unremembered beauty.

      Yet there is music in myth, insight in old songs,
      in forgotten ground the memory of magic words
      echoes, calling hearts to hear
      more than momentary passion that soon passes
      like the jumping jingles of an advertiser's vision.
      There is nothing new on earth,
      or under the sun,
      --- when we reach our roots, ---
      --- we've barely begun. ---

      So begin: I give you a soft seed
      and black earth to feed it. Bright
      sun may soon light our way,
      but the first shoot will not wait for day.

Copyright © 1999, Paul Deane. All Rights Reserved.