Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill: OK, I can settle this right now: in English, nothing rhymes with "orange". All you have to do is tell me a word for "orange" in Russian, and then a word that rhymes with it!
EFH: OK, I can settle this right now: in English, nothing rhymes with "orange". All you have to do is tell me a word for "orange" in Russian, and then a word that rhymes with it!
Um, this is an unfortunate example. The Russian word for "orange" ends in "-in", and there is the whole nomenclature of various drugs that will rhyme. As a result, it's easy to write a poem in Russian that would claim the oranges give us headache or something.
You have to explain how it works. You can put stress on either the first or the last syllable in "orange"? Is this true for any word? Can you do it when speaking, or is it a special poetic device? Here is what Weissbort says: "Russian words, no matter how long, have only one stress, whereas polysyllabic English words often have secondary stresses or two stresses." -- I didn't know that! When I heard misstressed words in songs, I assumed it's because the author wasn't very good in making songs.
I continued this thread because of this Philip Metres' intriguing statement:
"Precisely because regular rhyme and meter is still almost completely the norm in Russian poetry, ..."
"Still"? He believes that this is the natural path of evolution -- from rhymed to unrhymed poetry? Weissbort then says that English poetry is several centuries older than Russian, and this and the difficulties with rhymes in English is why contemporary English poetry is almost completely free verse. In other words all possible rhymes are already used up? I found this hard to believe. What is the real reason for predominance of free verse in English poetry?
One of the aforementioned translators (I forgot who of them, but most likely Weissbort) said that rhymed poetry looks childish or pretentious for an English reader. In turn, for a Russian reader unrhymed poetry looks lazy and sloppy.
Weissbort: "Brodsky, as we have seen, held that the alleged paucity of full rhymes in English was simply an excuse, a cover-up for inferior skills of workmanship. Rhyming might require greater ingenuity in English, but that precisely was the challenge. "
"As he had done several times before, he stressed the importance for him of a "sense of the inevitability of the statement" (earlier he had spoken of "a certain air of ominousness, of inevitability"). Rhyme had to be positive; it was an indispensable means of conveying that sense of inevitability. "
Brodsky is on to something here. Rhymed poems (good rhymed poems, that's it) do seem more "true" to me, maybe because of apparent inevitability, yes. In particular, Gandlevsky's poems are written in completely conversational language, nothing looks artifical and pretentious, and you can't but marvel at the author's skills.
Weissbort: "In the Russian, the metre often approximates to natural speech rhythms, while in English it seems to be superimposed. "
Free verses (good free verses, that's it) aren't sloppy poetry, they just require different skills. So the main question is: what are these skills and why did English poetry preferred them over the traditional set -- other than because all the rhymes were used already. :roll: [ November 07, 2006: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]