Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

Old Rhythm And Rhyme - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

They tell me new methods now govern the Muses,
The modes of expression have changed with the times;
That low is the rank of the poet who uses
The old-fashioned verse with intentional rhymes.
And quite out of date, too, is rhythmical metre;
The critics declare it an insult to art.
But oh! the sweet swing of it, oh! the clear ring of it,
Oh! the great pulse of it, right from the heart,
Art or no art.

I sat by the side of that old poet, Ocean,
And counted the billows that broke on the rocks;
The tide lilted in with a rhythmical motion;
The sea-gulls dipped downward in time-keeping flocks.
I watched while a giant wave gathered its forces,
And then on the gray granite precipice burst;
And I knew as I counted, while other waves mounted,
I knew the tenth billow would rhyme with the first.

Below in the village a church bell was chiming,
And back in the woodland a little bird sang;
And, doubt it who will, yet those two sounds were rhyming,
As out o'er the hill-tops they echoed and rang.

The Wind and the Trees fell to talking together;
And nothing they said was didactic or terse;
But everything spoken was told in unbroken
And a beautiful rhyming and rhythmical verse.

So rhythm I hail it, though critics assail it,
And hold melting rhymes as an insult to art,
For oh! the sweet swing of it, oh! the dear ring of it,
Oh! the strong pulse of it, right from the heart,
Art or no art.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010

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