Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON RHYME AND BLANK VERSE, by JOHN BYROM



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

Rhyming Dictionary Search
ON RHYME AND BLANK VERSE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What a deal of impertinent stuff at this time
Last Line: All the bus'ness he knows is—to execute well.
Subject(s): Language; Poetry & Poets; Rhyme; Singing & Singers; Words; Vocabulary; Songs


WHAT a deal of impertinent stuff at this time
Comes out about verses in Blank and in Rhyme.
To determine their merits by critical Prose,
And treat the two parties as if they were foes!
The allotting so gravely, for settling their rank,
Of all bondage to Rhyme and all freedom to Blank,
Has provok'd a few Rhymes to step forth and repress
The pedantical whim, now increas'd to excess;

Not to hinder the dupes of this fanciful wit
From retailing its maxims whene'er they think fit;
But to caution young Bards, if in danger to waste
Any genius for verse on so partial a taste,
That (while to blank verse is allow'd the pretence
Which to freedom it claims) they, supported by sense,
For words without any, may never neglect
Of Rhyme freely flowing the pleasing effect.

Here are two special terms which the Sophisters mingle,
To be sauce for the rest,—to wit, Fetters and Jingle;
And because a weak writer may chance to expose
Very ill-chosen words to such phrases as those,
The unthinking reflectors sit down to their rote,
And pronounce against Rhyme th' undistinguishing vote.—
Sole original this, in the petulant school,
Of its idle objections to METRE and RULE.

For to what other fetters are verses confin'd
Whether made up of blank or of metrical kind?
If a man has not taste for poetical lines,
Can't he let them alone, saying what he designs
Upon some other points in his unfetter'd way,
And contemn, if he will, all numerical lay?
But the fashion, forsooth, must affect the sublime,
The grand, the pathetic, and rail against Rhyme.

Blank verse is the thing:—tho,' whoever tries both,
Will find of its fetters a plentiful growth,
Many chains to be needful to measure his ground,
And keep the sublime within requisite bound.
If a laudable product in Rhyme should, perhaps,
Extort some applause from these exquisite Chaps,
They express it quite shily, for fear of a fetter,—
"Had the Rhyme been neglected the work had been better."

'Tis thus they begin with their jingle (or rattle
As some of them call it) the delicate battle;
"By the nature of Rhyme," they cry, "to be sure
"The sense must be cramped and render'd obscure."
As if Blank by its grandeur and magnify'd pause,
Was secure in its freedom from any such flaws;
Tho' so apt in bad hands to give readers offence,
By the rattling of sound and the darkness of sense.

All the arguments form'd against metrical song,
And twisted and twin'd as they prose it along,
Presuppose the poor maker to be but a dunce:—
For, if that be not true, they all vanish at once.
If it be, what advantage has blank in the case
From counting bad verses by unit or brace?
Nothing else can result from the critical rout
But,—"A Blockhead's a Blockhead, with Rhyme or without."

It came, as they tell us, from ignorant Moors,
And by growth of fine taste will be turn'd out of doors:—
Two insipid conceits at a venture intwin'd
And void of all proof both before and behind.
Too old its reception to tell of its age;
Its downfall, if taste could but fairly presage,
When the bees of the country make honey no more,
Will then certainly come,—not a moment before.

Till then it will reign;—and, while here and there spread,
Blank verse like an Aloe rears up its head,
And fresh from the hot-house successfully tow'rs
To make people stare at the height of its flow'rs,
The variety, sweetness, and smoothness of Rhyme
Will flourish, bedeck'd, in its natural clime,
With numberless beauties; will frequently shoot
If cherish'd aright, into blossom and fruit.

But stuffing their heads in these classical days,
Full of Homer, and Virgil, and Horace, and Plays;
And finding that Rhyme is in none of the four,
'Tis enough,—the fine-tasters have gotten their lore.
And away they run on with their words in a string,
Which they throw up at Rhyme with a finical fling;
But to reach its full sweetness not willing not able,
They talk about taste like the Fox in the fable.

To the praise of old Metre it quitted the Stage,
In abhorrence of tragical ranting and rage,
Which with heights and with depths of distresses enrich'd,
Verse and Prose, art and nature, and morals bewitch'd,
All the native agreements of language disgrac'd,
That theatrical pomp might intoxicate taste;
Still retaining poor Blank, in its letters held fast,
To bemoan its hard fate in romantic bombast.

'Tis the Subject, in fine, in the matter of song,
That makes a Blank verse or a Rhyme to be wrong;
If unjust or improper, unchaste or profane,
It disgraces alike all poetical strain;
If not,—the possessor of tunable skill
Unfetter'd, unjingled, may take which he will,
Any plan to which freedom and judgment impel;—
All the bus'ness he knows is—TO EXECUTE WELL.





Other Poems of Interest...



Home: PoetryExplorer.net