Fractured Metre

Evgeny Chirikov by Ivan Kulikov

Fractured Metre

There comes a time in ev’ry poet’s jotter-book,
A time when odes and ballads must be set aside,
Where clever wordplay fails to catch the sombre mood,
And pleasing couplets suffer from a glut of rhyme.
And so the chastened poet takes a modern look,
Discarding all the baggage that had been their guide –
All that regularity – predictable and crude –
And even rhythms jangle with their tyranny of time.
That stuff works for jokey stuff
For dum-de-dum and call-my-bluff
But how can Terror, how can Truth
Be captured in the games of youth ?

And so there comes a time when ev’ry poet
Makes the same mistake they always make –
They try to turn their free-verse loose, because
They think that’s how such verse must be –
Instead, they force unforcèd-ness, and blow it !
Instead, their archful art is bland and fake.
And finally, they see what skilful rhyming does:
It emphasises by its very unreality.
The Light Brigade, Decorum est,
They fuck you up, Before I rest
A decent couplet tells us what
A thousand noble words cannot.

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