Chuck Toll


Ars Poetica - Poem by Chuck Toll

Robert Frost once observed in a moment of pet,
That tennis is foolish when played without net.
So a poet abandoning rhythmical verse
Was to him just a lightweight (or something far worse) .

As I see it, the goal’s not to best an opponent
But determine a theme and then carefully hone it.
Using rhythm and rhyme adds a memorable sound.
(Who truly recalls much of Elliot or Pound?)

If you would write your verse in classic rhyme,
You’ll probably use the iamb all the time.
Iambic feet in groups of five are stately,
And through the ages they have figured greatly.

Trochees, though, have lots of power;
Use them when you snarl or glower.
Shorter lines, three feet or four,
Let you grasp your subject’s core.

The bounce of the anapest many find funny
As it scampers along like the legs on a bunny.
Yet its lilt appears often as part of our speech
So it can bring subjects within the heart’s reach.

Dactyls instead are insistent and driving,
Forceful and rolling with purposeful striving.
Horses and trains, also feelings in motion
Show a dactylic rhythm if you’ve got the notion.

When you need change in the rhythm, it’s neat
To add strong spondees or weak pyrhic feet.
Slow down, look closely, or speed things up,
Add that dash of ‘different’ to your cup.

If you feel quite at ease with conventional forms,
That’s great. But if not, bid adieu to the norms.
Beyond the predictable, vast realms of choice
Beckon you on to discover your voice.

Intense and insistent, poems differ from prose
And ask for a different response, I suppose;
So treasure each line that rings true like a bell,
Its peals chiming within us so wondrously well.


Comments about Ars Poetica by Chuck Toll

  • (9/6/2012 2:29:00 PM)


    Great poem! Saw this in the Rhyme & Rhythm section and knew I would have to come see if you had other offerings. Thanks! (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 26, 2011

Poem Edited: Friday, May 27, 2011


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