Rose By Any Other Name...
A Disquisition of
Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
A kind of poetry you may appreciate is "Free Verse."
I do not have a definition of free verse as, in fact, I could not find one!
However, it seems to be poetry that, for one thing, has neither a rhyme nor metrical scheme but depends, as some other kinds of poetry do, on irregular rhythm as well as irregular line-length (as the Scripture quoted below demonstrates).
different kinds of poetry that fit this description but not called free verse.
Such are the narrative and epic poems both of which deal with the telling of a story, either true or fictitious.
These are usually very dramatic and full of adventure or of great experiences in the life of the
"hero". In these ways they differ from free verse.
Free verse, it seems, has been around for a very long time.
Writing in an article in the "Encyclopedia of
English,"1 the editor, Arthur
Zeiger, stated that, "The thing (free verse) has been in English poetry at least since the King James version of the Bible."
He had previously said that, only "the term, ‘free verse’ is new."
He continues with, "Milton, Blake, Whitman-all wrote great free verse.
For the line from Ecclesiastes, ‘There is nothing new under the sun,’ the passage from The Song of Songs serves as evidence; [2:8]."
The voice of my beloved: behold he cometh,
leaping upon the mountains,
Skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a roe or a young hart:
Behold, he standeth behind our wall,
He looketh forth at the windows,
He showeth himself through the lattice.
My beloved spake, and said unto me,
"Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away."
For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in the land;
The fig tree putteth forth her figs,
And the vines are in blossom,
They give forth their fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one and come away.
O my dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the stairs,
Let me see thy countenance,
Let me hear thy voice;
For sweet is thy voice,
And thy countenance is comely."2
For justification for his calling the above "free verse," Arthur Zeiger describes those things that characterize poetry: "the verse is linked together by repetition, by balance, by inversion, by alliteration, by assonance.... thought and emotion encompass (the poem from Ecclesiastes to) determine the length and the force of the breath-sweep...."
This last he tells us is what "Amy Lowell meant by "organic rhythm," "the poem built on cadence."
If these things describe free verse, we now have some idea what it is.
However, inasmuch as he also says that some of what is called free verse, isn’t really free verse (if I understand him correctly), "when practiced by verse librettists who have not learned the craft."
Perhaps it is only those who have the gift for doing so who are capable of producing good free verse.
And I must admit that, inasmuch as Jehovah God is the great creator of all that is, one does need a gift from him to write any kind of good poetry
I must admit, also, that I have written some free verse which I will leave to your judgment as to whether it is worth calling poetry!
Maybe it’s not totally free but, well, I’m sure you’ll get the point.
They sit motionless,
Staring straight ahead;
Don’t speak to them,
Don’t distract them.
How long have they sat thus
Immune alike to conversation
Food and drink?
Alone in a make-believe world?
Closed off from friend-
What is this strange fascination
That makes of men
Wrapped in imagery"
Why, don’t you know?
It’s called "A television Show."
Before close I would like to quote Mr. Zeiger once more: "But one effect free verse, even at its best, cannot achieve: the counterpoint between meter and speech rhythm, the ‘delightful discord’ between a pattern and the variation that can be played upon.
For this reason, to gain once more the clash of the natural and metrical beat which Day Lewis calls ‘that most desirable of rhythmical effects,’ free verse has in the last decade partly indentured itself to meter.
T.S. Eliot has declared that ‘the ghost of some simple meter should lurk behind the arras in even the ‘freest’ verse, to advance menacingly as we doze and withdraw as we rouse.’
By accepting a more regular rhythmic base, yet not at all relinquishing its right to be irregular when sense and feeling demand it, free verse gains a new solidarity while it loses none of its versatility."
Having said all that, I still like poetry that has, not only rhythm, but also rhyme.
Roses are Red
1: All excerpts are from the "Encyclopedia of English" ed. Arthur
Zeiger, ARCO Pub. Co., 480 Lexington Ave, New York, 17, NY. 1959;
Zeiger, E.S. Bates, The Bible Designed to Be Read as Living
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