A Poem’s Expectations: Attention To Rhythm (2015-07-05)

A Poem’s Expectations: Attention To Rhythm (2015-07-05)

One very important feature of poetry is the rhythm. It is expressed in print by various means: line breaks, stanza breaks, spacing on the page.  Even in so-called prose poems that don’t use these devices, rhythm is crucial to defining it at as poetry. Here sentence and paragraph breaks, refrain, and punctuation serve the same function.

Rather than labeling some writing as a poem on the basis of the lines being printed unjustified, it makes more sense to read it aloud. You’ll hear the poetry in work seemingly disguised as prose.

An example of a fine use of refrain is the very poetic Gettysburg Address. Note the brilliantly placed repetition of heavily accented words such as “dedicate” and the rhythmic parallel phrasing.

Here is a fine reading with accompanying text:


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