Like a Nursery Rhyme...
Thursday, January 15, 2009

Disclaimer: this entry, like nearly all my log entries, is not a recounting of what I did today, so I'm sorry if that's what you browsers were looking for. The following is even more boring. :)

I have always wondered why rhyming poetry in English sounds childish--why the brain automatically goes into sing-song kindergarten mode, besides associating it with childhood.
I was studying the differences between Modern and Middle English in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in rhythm, alliteration and rhyme scheme when it suddenly came to me:

Rhyming poetry is now seen as infantile because unlike Latin, English has very few complex words which rhyme. Thus we're reduced to 'hate', 'great' etc. Full rhymes in complex words are rare, and partial rhymes never really caught on. Therefore end-rhymed poetry sounds childish in and of itself, since the vocabulary is mostly contained at that level. It is perfect for limericks, ditties and children's stories, but perhaps not sophisticated works of art. Even reading some of the great rhyming poets of the 19th century who wrote in English, it still sounds contrived and maybe a little trite.

Another reason: despite having absorbed a lot of French (and Latin) beginning with the Norman invasion, the fundamental poetic form of Anglo-Saxon poetry(therefore English) is alliterative and rhythmic, not end-rhyming, a trend that has persisted strongly more than a thousand years later.

Anyone out there asleep yet? zzzzzzzzz....
Class dismissed. Ha.


Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:40 PM


Edit: rhyming is also exhibited by those in sleep-deprived psychosis. Kudos to those who know where this quote is from:

"...But I am deep down...and I do not make...a sound"


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