This week's theme - the pleasures of strong rhythm
(Poem #558) Bees
You voluble, Velvety Vehement fellows That play on your Flying and Musical cellos, All goldenly Girdled you Serenade clover, Each artist in Bass but a Bibulous rover! You passionate, Powdery Pastoral bandits, Who gave you your Roaming and Rollicking mandates? Come out of my Foxglove; come Out of my roses You bees with the Plushy and Plausible noses!
A wonderful poem - feather-light, and with a rippling, cascading series of dactyls reinforced by the persistent alliteration and the clever double rhymes. Dactylics are lovely for this sort of tripping effect - the 'stress, unstress, unstress' pattern encourages the reader into a rhythmic, flowing cadence which is, of course, precisely what the poet intends. Some Notes on the Theme: This week's theme concerns itself with poems whose most immediately striking feature is their underlying rhythm. Unlike some poems, which attempt to blend the regular rhythms of poetry with the natural ones of speech, these are deliberately 'artificial' sounding, with metres that call the reader's attention to themselves, and on which the poem depends heavily for its effect. The intimate interconnection between form and content is something we've talked about several times in the past. In general, a poem's form tends to reinforce its content (a notable exception is self-referential humorous poems, whose content often refers directly to their form), but the effect is subtle and unobtrusive unless you deliberately choose to focus on it. In some poems, though (Longfellow's 'Hiawatha' is probably the most famous example) the form (and, in particular, the metre) stands out quite independent of the poem's contents, and is often what the reader carries away as his chief impression of the poem (for instance, I could write a Hiawatha parody far more easily than I could quote much of the actual verse). Of course, the other obvious connection is the music-poetry link. We've gone into detail on this too, and I won't repeat any of it here, but here's an interesting perspective on poetry-as-sound: Speech researchers distinguish a speech mode and a nonspeech mode. In the latter, the shape of the perceived sound is similar to the shape of the auditory information. In the former, only an abstract phonetic category (such as [a] [b] [i]) is perceived; the sound information that carries it is shut out of consciousness. I have suggested that there may be a third, poetic mode, in which some of the rich precategorial auditory information may reach consciousness, strongly affecting the emotional or poetic qualities of the speech sounds. -- Reuven Tsur, 'Rhyme and Cognitive Poetics' Links: We've run a Gale poem in the past: poem #284 The paper on Rhyme and Cognitive Poetics: [broken link] http://cogprints.soton.ac.uk/documents/disk0/00/00/07/35/cog00000735-00/RhymeGestalt_2.html Footnote: The 'dactylic' foot has in interesting etymology - it originally referred to Latin and Greek scansion, where, being syllable- rather than stress-timed, a dactyl was a 'long, short, short' pattern. The allusion was to the three joints of the finger, a long one followed by two short ones - dactyl being the Greek for finger -martin PostScript: As always, if you'd like to extend the theme with a guest poem, send it in by Friday and we'll move it to the head of the queue.