"Aesthetic & emotional effects of meter & rhyme in poetry"

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"Aesthetic & emotional effects of meter & rhyme in poetry"

Postby Ravenwing » Fri May 01, 2015 9:48 pm

Hey everybody,

I found an article titled "Aesthetic and emotional effects of meter and rhyme in poetry" that was published in 2013 by the medical journal "Frontiers in Psychology," whose authors did conclude that metrical verse with rhyme is easier for the general public to understand and appreciate, in comparison to free verse.

On the left-hand side of this webpage: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3560350/ there is an option to view that study as a PDF file.

To paraphrase their conclusion, looking for meaning in a free verse poem is like a person trying to find their car keys in a messy kitchen or living room—they could be somewhere between a pair of sofa cushions, or on the kitchen table but underneath a newspaper, or under the t.v. stand, etc., whereas looking for meaning in metrical verse with rhyme is like a person trying to find their car keys on a set of well-organized key hooks that are smartly placed by the front door.

Is the lack of user-friendliness that in inherent in free verse the main reason as to why the general public has become estranged from contemporary poetry, which is mostly free verse? Can a resurgence of metrical verse with rhyme set the stage for the general public to fall in love with poetry, once again?

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Re: "Aesthetic & emotional effects of meter & rhyme in poetr

Postby BrokenLyre » Sun May 10, 2015 5:44 am

Interesting thoughts Ravenwing. I can only speculate - but it seems that our culture is so much more geared (trained) for video experiences that sustained attention to literary works such as poetry will never become popular. Songs, sure. But reading with a taste for poetry will continue to be a rare experience (if at all) for most people.

When I have shared or taught Keats' poems to others - explaining their meter, rhyme, metaphors, and other poetic aspects, I have consistently found that they "don't get it" or "don't believe it" - meaning that they don't believe that John Keats could actually "say" everything he is saying in a few lines. They just don't believe that Keats could be so aware of his architectronics as well as his meaning. At any rate, most people I teach or share with just don't believe anybody could "pay attention" to all the detail in his poems. Oh well. I try. But no takers yet.
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Re: "Aesthetic & emotional effects of meter & rhyme in poetr

Postby Ravenwing » Thu May 28, 2015 11:06 pm

Hey BrokenLyre,

Regarding the attention spans of your students, a recent article in Canada’s "National Post" newspaper reported on a study by Microsoft which concluded that most Canadians now have less of an attention span than most goldfish, due to their mobile device addiction. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadians-now-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-portable-devices-microsoft-study I am one of the few whose nationality is Canadian, and who has never owned a smartphone, or any other kind of mobile device. The authors of that study did speculate that its results are applicable to non-Canadian mobile device users, too.

A recent article in the Daily Mail reported on a study that did conclude 13% of smartphone users are addicted to their smartphone. The average age of that study was 29 years old. I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage of children and teenage smartphone users that are addicted to their smartphone is actually much higher than 13%, because whenever I travel by bus and there are children or teenagers on the bus, or even young adults on the bus, there is usually not one amongst them that is not addicted to their smartphone. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2977879/One-eight-people-addicted-smartphone-use-worse-gets-study-claims.html

I think that when cannabis is fully legalized in the U.S.A., Canada, and the U.K., that is likely to result in a second coming of the Hippie movement from the 1960s, and that along with such a tide, there is probably going to be swept into the mainstream a resurgence in the popularity of metrical verse that rhymes.

I think that the key to helping students appreciate the metrical verse of Keats, is turned from their first having learned how to properly recognize the accentuation and syllabication of each word. Most people in today's day and age have been taught how to correctly spell each word, but they have not been taught how to correctly identify the accentuation and syllabication of each word, and therein lies the main problem with their not yet being able to properly appreciate metrical verse. Appreciating metrical verse does not come easy to them, the same way that appreciating Old English verse does not come easy to anybody that is not fluent in Old English. Without their having a proper foundation in accentuation and syllabication, metrical verse might as well be an almost entirely different language to them.

There are reputable dictionaries which specifically point out the correct accentuation and syllabication of each word, but how many teachers of metrical verse always have on hand for their students to use, any of those dictionaries in their classes? How many of those teachers instruct their students to refer to the online websites of those dictionaries, so that they can quickly look up the correct accentuation and syllabication of each word in the poem they are studying, and with their being regularly quizzed on the correct accentuation and syllabication of the words that are most often found in the Keats lexicon? None in any of the schools and universities that I did attend. So how is it reasonable for those teachers to expect their students to stop being confused about meter, and for those students to start being able to properly understand that the exact same way in which each word has its correct spelling, each word also has its correct accentuation and syllabication?

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Re: "Aesthetic & emotional effects of meter & rhyme in poetr

Postby BrokenLyre » Fri May 29, 2015 11:36 pm

I agree - you bring up good points. Certainly it would help if people were schooled in the language as you noted above. Also, it seems to me that learning poetic terms and forms etc... seems to me to be a dying trend. I meet many teachers here in New York that barely touch on poetry at all - in four years of English education. Even the "home school families" I know barely touch on the poetic elements in English. And British lit? Other than a bit of Shakespeare, teachers really don't cover too much anymore. It wasn't like this when I was in school.

I have taught a little Keats to adults - and as I said in my prior email, it shocked me that they really have a hard time believing that Keats was aware of the complexity of his own work! It just surprised me that they couldn't see how he could pay attention to structure, rhyme, meter, meaning, elements etc.... but he was aware of it. Helen Vendler certainly thinks so. I just find it remarkable that the beauty and complexity of his poems is somehow lost in their incredulity. I never expected that. That's a challenge I need to think about.
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Re: "Aesthetic & emotional effects of meter & rhyme in poetr

Postby Ravenwing » Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:38 pm

Hey BrokenLyre,

It seems that those students are not intelligent enough to understand that there is a difference between a person being a genius, and a person being an idiot savant.

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