The Mountain Goats, Tobias Wolff and Poetry

From GalleyCat comes John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and Tobias Wolff. Brilliant.

We poets write a lot about the music of poetry, its roots in oral/aural traditions, its rhythm and need to be sounded aloud, but very little about the meter of poetry–meter, which is a requirement of rhythm and of what most Westerners consider song. It’s a missed opportunity, because for metrical verse to work, it doesn’t much matter how the stresses–or pulses–in each measure are perceived. The beat of 3/4 or 4/4 time is as effective a cadence as that of trimeter or tetrameter, and the syncopation of the vocalist as nimble a device for varying those beats as a formal poet’s phrasing. Lyric poetry, after all, was first written for the lyre.

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