IRISH POETRY

 

Sir, - I was interested to read John Boland's comments (May 4th) regarding the apparent dearth of rhyme in contemporary Irish poetry. I have raised this issue several times in the course of reviews of collections of poetry and was quite glad to see someone else take it up. I fear, however, it may be an issue with which few will wish to engage.

A possible contributing factor to the lack of rhyme and much else besides in Irish poetry is the fact that these days it has become somewhat chic to suggest that writing poetry is easy. Poets themselves have occasionally encouraged the notion. The idea has tremendous appeal. (Oddly, no one suggests with such gusto that writing novels, stories or plays is easy. But poems, generally, are short, small things, so that may have something to do with it.)

Bothersome stuff such as rhyme, rhythm, metre, suggests rules, having to learn things all redolent of the past, the fusty, indicative of restraints on freedom of expression in writing and so on, and all so dreadfully time consuming.

This sort of thinking complements the charming and often indulged fantasy that everyone is a poet, and that it only takes the right poetry workshop rather musically, they are often referred to these days as masterclasses - to give breath to a new Auden, a budding O Direain.

It would be absurd to suggest that poems that do not rhyme, and so on, can not be poems. But it is equally absurd to hold that rhyme and rhythm and their functions are irrelevant or redundant to the craft of poetry. Poetry is one thing, prose is another. That simple statement cannot be made often enough. In print, Bravo, John Boland. But are we swimming against the tide? - Yours, etc.,

Rahoon Park,

Galway.