That's not really fair of me, is it? Let's try again. Free Verse, according to some, doesn't follow the classic standard of construction. It doesn't rely on meter or rhyme.
According to the University of Victoria's writers' guide: "Free verse, on the other hand, has no rules whatsoever. The lines are irregular and may or may not rhyme. Instead of fitting content to form, the poet allows content to shape the form, changing line length and meter to emphasize words and sounds. Free verse develops its own rhythms, most often annotated by the use of the line-break, and is capable of complex effects of rhythmical and syntactical ambiguity."
If we accept the above definition, or the other reactionary definitions I've read (I'll justify the term reactionary presently), then how do we critique free verse? How do we understand it? To what criteria do we hold it accountable to?
Whitman (pictured to the right)is often held up as a fine example of free verse. Whitman was one of several writers at the time who were seeking to create a culture apart from Europe. They were seeking a new American identity. I would argue that this identity was borne of a major inferiority complex stimulated with just the right amount of jingoism. The poetry that it produced was therefore a reactionary art form (See, I told you I would justify the term).
"You start by experiencing it and using your own emotions as a touchpoint for interpretation."
Freud would have wet himself.
So again, and forgive my sloppy structure here...how do we interpret or judge free verse. And I don't want to hear "I can't tell you, but I know it when I hear it."
Oh..and here's a little poem I fell in love with. It isn't much, but it touches me for its innocence. And maybe for its sense of time. I could break it down much according to structure, but I'll leave that for others so as not to further detract from the above posting and posed questions:
Jenny Kissed Me
by Leigh Hunt
- Jenny kissed me when we met,
- Jumping from the chair she sat in.
- Time, you thief! who love to get
- Sweets into your list, put that in.
- Say I'm weary, say I'm sad;
- Say that health and wealth have missed me;
- Say I'm growing old, but add-
- Jenny kissed me!