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  1. #1
    easybreakable's Avatar
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    Lightbulb free verse vs prose

    Could you please share your opinion about the difference between writing "free verse" and writing "prose" ?... Something other than the breaking lines... I got tired of googling this question, for those who might be interested let me know your thoughts in simple wording.

  2. #2
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Re: free verse vs prose

    "Free verse" occupies that part of the prose/poetry continuum which has "blank verse" on the one side and "prose poetry" on the other.

    Blank verse is an unrhymed sequence of iambic pentameters (e.g. as in Milton's Paradise Lost). Other similar forms are not very common in English poetry; but examples in German might be the unrhymed tetrameters of Goethe and Heine. (I exclude unrhymed Greek and Latin verse, as this is constructed by length of syllable, not stress.)

    Prose poetry on the other hand has the heightened diction, repetitions, rhythmic recurrences, emotive content, etc. that we are accustomed to find in poetry, but it is presented as prose and organised by the paragraph, not by the line or block of lines. An example would be the Dream Fugue of De Quincey; cf. also the prose poems of Baudelaire and Rimbaud.

    Between them you find "free verse". This is sometimes fully or partly rhymed, and loosely based upon standard metrical units (as in the free verse of T.S. Eliot); but more commonly the rhythm varies from line to line, or at least between groups of lines, as in the Cantos of Ezra Pound, or the poems of William Carlos Williams and D.H. Lawrence.

    The line-breaks are significant in free verse, by the way, because once you discard regularities of rhythm and rhyme, you are left with very few ways of emphasising particular words or phrases. Words at the beginning and end of a line seem more significant to the reader; and when free verse is read aloud, line-ends are also where the natural pauses occur (another form of emphasis).

    The result is that writers of free verse tend towards a presentation in which the distribution of lines reflects the syntax.

    Alternatively, they may well insert line-breaks in unusual places, for effect.

    Best wishes,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

  3. #3
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    easybreakable is offline Member
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    Re: free verse vs prose

    What an informative interesting post... I enjoyed this perspective of yours so much

    The dance of death by Charles Baudelaire is a captivating piece...
    What confuses me mostly that in some poetry sites and because I rely on the use of imagery so much, they say my poems are more likely to be prose arranged in free verse structure not poetry, so my next question will be:
    Is the use of imagery as a poetic skill more related to prose rather than poetry?

  4. #4
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Re: free verse vs prose

    Thank you!

    I should also have mentioned the response of the reader. I would speculate that when readers see a page where the text is laid out in a verse-like fashion, they tend to read that text in a different manner - more slowly and more carefully, perhaps, and with different expectations of the likely content.

    People are accustomed to read prose (on the other hand) at greater speed, and perhaps with less attention to the aural qualities.

    Thus original manuscripts of e.g. Italian poets of the Renaissance (Cavalcanti, for instance), which are laid out in a prose-like fashion, can perplex the modern reader.

    On the question of imagery, I'm surprised by your respondents' comments. From the Poetics of Aristotle and the Ars Poetica of Horace to the Imagists of the early 20th century and beyond, writers on literary theory have tended to emphasise the importance of imagery in poetry. Then too, prose that is overburdened with imagery might be felt to be too "poetic".

    It might be worth looking at the words with which you end your lines, though. If there is a predominance of less important words, such as articles, adverbs, prepositions, or forms of the verb "to be", it could well give an impression of prosiness.

    All the best,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: free verse vs prose

    Do they say that they believe it is more prose than poetry purely because of the imagery?

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    Re: free verse vs prose

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Do they say that they believe it is more prose than poetry purely because of the imagery?



    No they don't say that... As I mentioned they say that my narrative pattern conjoined with the overuse of imagery is more likely to come up with prose rather than poetry.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: free verse vs prose

    I cannot see how the use of imagery, even excessively, results in something reading more like prose. The imagery would have to be stock and similar to prose sources for that. The narrative patter is different.

  8. #8
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    Re: free verse vs prose

    Neither do I. One of these poems I'm talking about is here...


    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...ion-rules.html


    In anyway thank you for sharing your thoughts, most of the editors I'm dealing with are native speakers, still I'd always rely on my own sense and perspective with respect to their opinions.

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