Free Verse – a modern era phenomenon?

What is the appropriate form for poetry written in the modern era?  No rhyme! No meter! Uneccessary! Old fashioned!  Free verse is the “now”.

Well…….it appears that “Verse Livre” (free verse) itself is quite a venerable poetic institution!  The “Song of Songs” in the Bible is a very early example of free verse – possibly dating to the 10th century BCE.  Later experimentation around and in the 1800’s is attributed to Goethe, Christina Rosetti (who sometimes used unmetered and rhymed verse,) Heinrich Heine, Reiner Maria Rilke and others.

Free Verse allows for individual expression – the cadences, the look of the words on the page, the shape of sentences, the internal winks at venerable forms and words, the revelling in sounds, and the savoring of words as they shape in the mouth and are then released on the air – these and more are available again to poets and their admirers – in ways not socially available for many centuries.

MEM Schober


To meter and rhyme – that is the question

Familiarity with prose –
                              a given for many, I suppose.
But poetry: that’s a different story –
                             ’tis literature in all its glory –
                    where thoughts have been expressed in metric form –                              and rhyme – once the prescribed  and accepted norm.

In modern times, which I suppose is now,
          many a writer will fervently avow –
                    neither meter nor rhyme are necessary;
                              these are “Old Rules” – almost legendary.
Joys and Laments are verses of rhyme
                              generally unmetered – from the absurd to the sublime.

© EHR Schober  (04-02-2012)