Sound And Sense (2015-02-23)
I have a book somewhere that was used as a textbook on poetry in one of my university classes, and it is aptly named: Sound and Sense. These are the two key components in real poetry. The competent poet has to be very concerned about how a poem sounds. A poem is like a piece of music in that its sense is partially, and often crucially, dependent on how it sounds.
For example, consider the prosodic (musical) structure of the limerick. (It consists of five lines in roughly anapestic meter rhyming AABBA. (The first, second and fifth lines have 3 metrical feet, while the third and fourth only have two.) Any poem conforming to this structure sounds humorous.
I’ve sometimes asked my students to try to write a convincingly sombre limerick. So far, none of them have succeeded.
The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But don’t try serious
It will seem spurious
Such stern ones will still sound comical.