Do Your Words Make Music?
Let's Look at Magnetic Meter
Modern schools teach Journalism and Creative Writing.
Study Journalism and you'll write ads that are informative. Study Creative Writing and you'll write ads that entertain. But neither is likely to persuade.
Only one school of writing always
1. introduces a new perspective,
2. causes readers to feel differently, and
3. does so in a tight economy of words.
And that school is very ancient.
Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations
As of thunder in the mountains?
Do you want to speak in full color? Enroll in the school of the poet.
Rhythm is essential to us. Feet patter, hearts beat, lungs breathe, planets circle and seasons cycle to a rhythm. Music, poetry and dance are built on it.
The rhythm of a poem – the drumbeats of its stressed and unstressed syllables – is called its meter.
Meter is music. Meter is magic.
Did you feel the Indian drumbeats in the preface to Longfellow's Hiawatha? Those drumbeats are caused by Longellow's careful arrangement of words so that their naturally accented syllables fall into a rhythmic pattern. But Longfellow's poem doesn't rhyme.
Meter is more powerful than rhyme.
By the shores of Gitchee Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
“Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!”
Lulled him into slumber, singing
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Wow. Henry's been gone 125 years but his word-dance continues to enchant us.
The poet hopes to move you, to make you see things differently, to alter your perspective. The poet hopes to persuade.
If you don't want to hear any more about poetry and its power to move people, you should plan on skipping next Monday's Memo.
Because I'm going to aim an arrow at your heart.
And it's not even Valentine's Day.
Roy H. Williams
PS – No, I'm not going to write you a poem. I'm going to tell you the story of the academy's Tribe of Seven and their meeting with the poet chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg's Call to Action Web Seminar! hosted by the American Small Business Institute in Tuscan Hall at the Wizard Academy campus in Austin, Texas.
April 27, 2007.
Take a look.