.

We’re poets first-and-foremost and agree
that meter, rhyme and rhythm oft are spurned;
the plethora of poetry we see
is free verse and should frankly be returned
to sender if an emo, teenage brain
or lovesick chump composed the referenced work
whilst classicists are grappling to regain
elusive words that twixt their grey cells lurk.
Beyond our versifying stabs we live
in circumstances varied and diverse
across the world, endeavouring to give
a commentary upon our universe.
But most of all, we’re folk of candid minds,
whose use of language, stitched together, binds.

.

.

Paul A. Freeman is the author of Rumours of Ophir, a crime novel which was taught in Zimbabwean high schools and has been translated into German. In addition to having two novels, a children’s book and an 18,000-word narrative poem (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers!) commercially published, Paul is the author of hundreds of published short stories, poems and articles.


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18 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thanks, Mr. Freeman. I wonder if some readers might want to try their hands at creating similar statements of purpose. An interesting variety of perspectives might result.

    Reply
  2. Gail

    Okay! That was wonderful, and, “No, Mr. Woodruff,” I’ll never make a good poet. Probably, not even a bad poet–plus, I must confess to a fondness for Mary Oliver. Apologies.

    I have a suggestion–could there be added to the site some means of printing a PDF of the poems ?I transcribe my favorites into a journal I keep for good poetry and pithy bon mots. It’d be delightful to be able to glue them in–with the pictures which are also wonderful. What do you all think?

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Dear Gail,
      No worries! I doubt I would contribute: I tend to get unbearably heavy when I’m serious. Still, there are those in this community with pith and no doubt an individual perspective, despite common ground.
      On Mary Oliver: I haven’t read enough of her poetry to say anything worthwhile; I have 2 of her books on writing poetry, which I found instructive.

      Reply
  3. Tonia Kalouria

    Paul,
    LOVE this poem! And given Gail’s good suggestion, this would be a “keeper.”

    Reply
  4. Margaret Coats

    Paul, thanks for making this poem addressed to all of us a pleasant note, rather than a loud shout or a preachy sermon!

    Gail, do you subscribe to SCP? If not, go to the very bottom of the site’s right-hand column and sign up to get the poems by e-mail. Then you can print them in whatever format your computer and your e-mail provider allow. It seems best to me to allow each person to copy and format individually. Remember, most poems and some pictures on SCP are in copyright, and poets retain their rights except for allowing online posts and possible publication in each year’s Journal. Individual readers can ethically make copies for personal use.

    Reply
    • Gail

      Dear Ms. Coats,

      I do subscribe! Thank you for the advice and caveat. I have printed the poems in order to transcribe them by hand, but in longhand there can be many more line breaks. Those breaks compromise the readability, and, of course, there’s no picture. I would never knowingly violate copyright.

      By my fastidious adherence to the laws governing copyright, I’ve inconvenienced my daughters’ music teachers many times through the years. Artists who infringe are anathema to me.

      In conclusion (and on a completely different level of diction to boot!) the printed emails are just plain fugly!

      Reply
      • Margaret Coats

        I hear you, Gail! We want our chosen beautiful poems to look lovely on the page. No website does better on the screen than SCP. You have my heartfelt sympathy when you are trying to achieve the effect with only longhand and a notebook with not enough space for some lines!

      • Gail

        That’s a thought! My kids just taught me how to ‘snip’. I’ll have to fool with that and see what I get. Thanks!

  5. C.B. Anderson

    In line four, the iambic expectations demand that “free” & “and” should be stressed. Can you explain this? And you dropped the ball in line twelve. If you had simply written “on” instead of “upon,” the meter would have been saved. In a poem about Formalism v. Free Verse, it seems to me that the time-honored conventions should be adhered to rigorously, unless your intention was to write a farcical poem about how little difference there is between the two styles.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Yeah, I see your points. On the latter I think it depends on how we say ‘commentary’. I tend to say the word in three syllables ‘comment’ry’, which is why I used ‘upon’ instead of ‘on’.

      To fix ‘free verse’, where it sits on the line is more difficult. A comma after ‘verse’ helps but is not a complete fix. I’m sure I’ll come back to it after some reflection.

      Thanks for your observations and for reading, Mr Anderson.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Now that you mention it, Paul, your pronunciation of “commentary” sounds perfectly British to me, which justifies — nay, demands — “upon.”

        For that fourth line, how about:

        is verse that’s “free” and ought to be returned

        ?

      • Paul Freeman

        Yep, that works perfectly and keeps the ‘returned to sender’ part of the poem intact.

        Thanks.

  6. Paul Freeman

    Thank you for your positive comments, everyone. I’m encouraged.

    Reply
  7. Robert James Liguori

    I agree. Everything we put into this universe persists. I’m glad I found this society. The world needs more than healing, it needs a positive stream of heartfelt messages… And Classical Poets delivers. Thank you for sharing your poem.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      I’m glad I created such a positive impression, Robert. Thank you.

      Reply
  8. David Bellemare Gosselin

    “Whose use of language, stitched together, binds” is a very nice touch Paul.

    I think a worthwhile question to consider though is something like, “just because something ends up being divide up with rhyme and meter, does that mean it’s not free verse?”

    It can still have a free verse idea, veiled by rhyme and meter.

    If traditional poetry just becomes a question of setting lines according to rules like rhyme and meter, that can become very problematic and misleading, as far as definitions go. The word tradition can easily become bastardized and associated with anything that has rhyme and meter.

    I think it’s important to not just associate the idea of traditional poetry with formal rules. The rules are just a foundation for creating something which can’t really be defined by rules as such. There is no rule that one can just follow and then expect to magically create “poetry.”

    And good poets with a mastery of form are also skilled at artfully bending the rules, or “breaking the rules” per se. That’s part of what makes a good poet who has mastery of form: knowing how to break the rules. In fact, that’s an important aspect of classical composition altogether. Beethoven broke the rules all the time, but he created new forms and advanced musical language as he did so. The real challenge is knowing how to break the rules, and to be able to do so in a lawful manner.

    Beethoven spoke of making something “as rigorous as it is free.” Something which breaks or overturns a formula can be just as rigorous as something that follows strict formulas. It all comes down to how one does it and why.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      I’ve just come across this, David. My sonnet is written in the narrow confines of classical tradition, but the experimenting has begun.

      Thanks for reminding me about the width of creativity.

      Reply

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