I sat outside in the rain tonight, sheltered by a small umbrella and a brimmed hat. The rain’s rhythm was a soothing patter, gentle enough for me to attend to my thoughts, insistent enough to be all I could think about. Do any poems sound like this, I wondered, apparently patternless but wholly recognizable? What if the rain came down in dactyls and iambs, like drumbeats, as regular as a ticking clock? That would break me, I think, especially if it were asynchronous to my beating heart or breathing. It would change me in the moment to conform with it, no matter how contrary to my internal rhythms it was.
But this is not the case for a poem with a defined rhythm. English sonnets can be transporting – in a good way. To breath in the beat of William Shakespeare – here 400+ years since – is near magic. The best Frost or Millay or Dickinson is entrancing. But so is Whitman (sometimes) and I just love so much contemporary poetry whose cadences and rhythms more resemble rain than drums (be they war or dance).
I would like to learn the craft of letting regular rhythm guide me through the writing of a poem, but for now, it is the sound of rain (and waves and thunder and chimes and…) that I hear as I write.