Is rhyme an essential element of any poem?
Rhyme is not necessarily an essential element of poetry. Any poem a poet creates should not be theoretically bound to this norm. As a poem is an expression of human emotion and feeling, it cannot be confined to a certain framework. However, many poems are written in a rhyme pattern. They create a musical pattern in its verse which is considered to be an aesthetic part of it.
Most romantic poets such as William Blake have written the poems in a rhyme pattern. We can study Blake’s poem entitled ‘The Tyger” as a perfect example. The two first lines of the first stanza begin with “Tyger Tyger”, burning bright, / In the forests of the night” (Blake, lines 1-2). The last words ‘bright’ and ‘night’ of the poem’s lines share the same syllables being repeated. In another word, the sound pattern at end of each word is /ɪt/. It imparts a musical sensation to its reader while reciting lines of the poem.
Breaking away from such a canonical idea, some poets including an American poet, Walt Whitman has given more importance to the idea and thought in poetry rather than so-called aesthetics. His poetry collection “Leaves of Grass” focuses on the simplicity of writing poems. For instance, ‘Song of Myself!’ is a powerful contemplation on self; “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”(Whitman, lines 1-3). The last words of the first stanza are ‘myself’, ‘assume’ and ‘you’ which do not have the repetition of the same syllable at the end of each word. Rather, the poet makes aware of its reader that all human self and attributes can communicate with our surroundings.
To put it in a nutshell, poems written in a certain rhyme pattern, meter, or structure do not make it always a poem. Following the Shakespearean sonnet in the post-modern era is like adverting the whole human advancement to its origin. By and large, human necessities, misery, or happiness differ as per time and space. So, the gist of this article is that essentially a poem is a rumination of a thought. It is expected to be thought-provoking and, it must be written for life’s sake, not for art’s sake.
Blake, William. William Blake Poems; Classic Poetry Series. PoemHunter.Com – The World’s Poetry Archive, 2004.
Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass: Simplicity in Poetry. Prakas Books India, 2017.