When Violets Aren’t Violet

VIIOLETES - Anelka -- PX

Roses are red;
Violets are ———- purple!

Doesn’t it bother anyone that numerous poets for centuries have painted those innocent little violets blue?  Of course, I know that there are, indeed, some strains of violets that are more blue — and even some that are pink and white. But I have to believe that they are the exception, because, after all, the very name of these flowers is spelled  v-i-o-l-e-t.

However, I’m not really complaining about the color of violets. I just got to thinking about that particularly well-known poetic line and about how we as poets really do feel we have our own kind of literary license. What is it about poets that makes them think they can write just anything they want to write as long as it rhymes and keeps the meter smooth and uninterrupted?  Well, I’ll tell you what it is about us:

We love words — the sounds of words — the rhythm of words — the music of words. And we love playing around with lots of different numbers of syllables. We love to hear consonants repeated, vowels repeated, digraphs repeated. And if we need to turn a sentence around backwards to get the right rhythm — or leave out a couple letters replaced by an apostrophe — or go beyond the norm with hyperbole — well, it’s all part of what we see as our job —— and to be honest —— it’s part of the FUN of writing poetry.

True poets follow rules of meter and rhyme and correct use of figurative language. But we also follow rules of emotion, yearning, and imagination.  So, yes, we do believe that it’s okay if we altar reality a bit here and there or say things backwards. If it helps make the poem touch a heart, grab the imagination, take the reader to another realm, or tickle his funny-bone, we figure we’ve done our job well.

And, personally, I think that’s why a poem can speak to readers in such unique ways. People don’t always realize it when they are reading a poem, but it’s those quirky kinds of things — those little excursions away from what is generally the “accepted” pattern — that has caused many a poem to grab a place in the reader’s mind and heart and stay there.

So okay … here’s my version:

Roses are red;
Violets are blue;
We don’t always stick
With only what’s true.
We’re looking for words
With meter and rhyme,
And if we can’t find them,
We might tend to whine.
So cut us some slack;
We’re doing our best.
If a poem gives you pleasure,
It passes the test.



 

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