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“If you use an awkward rhyme, put the forced rhyme first.”

This is another of Peter Berryman’s bits of wisdom, and it works very well. The primary author of this book has applied this tip, gained while interviewing Peter, and his poetry has improved from it. Now that the spontaneous, church-revival-style testimonial is over, let’s look at the suggestion. Here are two passages from a poem called “Street Boats” with lines the way they are now, and with the lines reversed. Can you feel how forced the rhymes seem the other way?

I hear the thunder crack as if the day split in twain
as my window shakes to the sounds of summer rain.

As my window shakes to the sounds of summer rain,
I hear the thunder crack as if the day split in twain.

Singing in the rain like fools, not buying gopher wood,
there were storms that we thought would just go on for good.

There were storms that we thought would just go on for good,
singing in the rain like fools, not buying gopher wood.

 
Tip Origin: Peter Berryman

 
Status: Incomplete

 

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