Five-Minute Writing Tip
A Study in Rhyme, It’s Christmas Time
Christmas is gift-giving and uplifting; tinsel and twine; tamales and pignolis; and of course, rhythm and rhyme.
Who doesn’t recognize:
“Fahoo forays, dahoo dorays
Welcome Christmas, bring your light
Fahoo forays, dahoo dorays
Welcome in the cold of night,”
as the first verse in Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas?”
Or, upon hearing the first two lines of, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,”
“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,”
who can’t resist reciting the entire poem?
Then there’s that seasonal ear-worm that begins with:
“On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me
a partridge in a pear tree.”
Our publisher, Don Douglass, whistles this song throughout the entire year.
Every year I look forward to reading The New Yorker’s holiday poem, “Greetings, Friends,” which is also written in rhyme.
For this writing tip, I searched for rules on writing poetry in rhyme. I expected the method to be easy to explain. It isn’t. What I discovered was more difficult to learn than calculus.
Rhyming poems use schemes, such as: monorhyme, alternate rhyme, couplet, triplet, enclosed, terza rima, limerick, and villanelle—which are all patterns of placement of words that rhyme, involving a certain rhythm, a beat, or a meter. Don’t worry, I’m not going to define these terms. You can Google them if you’re interested. Instead, I asked a good friend of mine, Whidbey Island poet, Mike Starring, how he goes about composing some of the best rhymes I’ve ever heard. His answer was simple, “I hear the beat in my head and the words begin to flow. I couldn’t write a decent free verse poem if I tried.” Thank you, Mike!
Cave Art Press’s holiday gift to you is Mike’s 2017 holiday poem.
Winter rolled in on thunder clouds,
Meaner than bad weather of lore.
I shut my eyes, tuned out the wind,
Remembering a Christmas before.
One spring, a gentrified tugboat,
Moored in front of my house in May.
They waved to me like old friends,
As I retrieved my mail each day.
I questioned my fascination;
The boat, more than invitingly cute.
A sudden flashback from childhood,
My new neighbor was, “Little Toot!”
Winter brought in rougher seas,
I watched the tug rock and sway…
They waved once more on Christmas Eve,
Upped anchor and motored away.
Since the boat has left here,
Cliff life seems much more alone.
It is like I lost a new friend
Outside the window of my home.
I want no gifts for Christmas,
I’m content with all I’ve got.
And thrilled I witnessed “Little Toot”
Become an anonymous family’s yacht.
~Mike Starring, 2017
For more of Mike’s poetry, check out his website: http://mikestarringpassages.blogspot.com/