Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 28 April 1999

"An Introduction to Rhyme" by Peter Dale

A book written by a practitioner rather than a theorist. The benefits of rhyme are listed and disentangled from those of metre. As suggested on p.107, there are few positive examples in this book of the use of rhyme. The abundance of examples of bad use (some from famous poems by good poets) makes one wonder whether it's worth the effort. He doesn't try to hunt down reasons why some may think certain sound combinations 'magical', nor does he follow up the quoted observation (and reason for avoiding rhyme, I'd have thought) that an end-rhyme affects the whole line.

I would have liked to see more example from free-form poetry (from Plath, for instance). Also the organisation seems haphazard in places: the contents of chapters on "Theory", "The Criticism of Rhyme", "The Attack against Rhyme", etc are largely interchangeable.

I was interested in his observation (p.96) that rhyme's "real worth [is that] the need for rhyme makes a writer mix in the mind registers and topic fields in an unpredictable way". A similar claim could be made for other arbitrary games with words that I suspect Dale would steer clear of.

Nevertheless, a worthwhile read. While I'm sceptical about the sound-symbolism aspect of the book, it's made me think more about introducing rhyme into free-form poetry, and it's far less preachy than I'd expected.

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