Robert Creeley

The Conspiracy

and a note on metrical effects


Let's assume you know the basics of versification or if not that you'll learn them by yourself from the appendix at the back of our anthology. All I mean is the rudiments of scansion and the names of at least the four most common kinds of feet and a few other words like pentameter, tetrameter, hexameter, heroic couplet, etc. (When in doubt, see Mnemonic about meters.)

Given such basic tools, the interest then is in trying to use them to define metrical effects and their relation to the poem's meaning.  That is, almost any dope can write jingles, and it takes little more skill to write some iambic pentameter or whatever. What's hard is to make it count: to fit the rhythm and meter to the emotion and sense.

Also, there are many cases where it's problematic how to scan a line, or how to name a metrical effect, once you do hear it.

Let me illustrate by giving you a little, funny, unpretentious poem by Robert Creeley.


The Conspiracy

You send me your poems,
I'll send you mine.

Things tend to awaken
even through random communication.

Let us suddenly
proclaim spring. And jeer

at the others,
all the others.

I will send a picture too
if you will send me one of you.


I could go on at length about why this delights me (although I know perfectly well it's no great poem). But in relation to meter, I'd like to point to the last two lines: notice how the deliberate bathos of the jingling jogtrot trochaic / iambic tetrameter weighs and judges what the speaker is saying -- to humorous effect.
I  will  send  a pic ture  too
if  you  will  send  me  one of  you. 
You could take it as humorous pathos, or as satire on a certain kind of would-be poet (if you think of the poet as entirely other than the speaker). But either way, rhythm plays a major part in the effect.


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