Poetic License

Submitted by hadrian on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 00:00

Poetic license is the right, for a poet, to be a d**k to language. At least, that's how I usually explain it. This means we poets are allowed to twist, maim, or completely ignore the normal rules of grammar. Poetic license, however, extends farther than just the rules of grammar and also includes distortion of actual facts in its description as well as putting the rules of poetry itself into a little corner and let it cry.

Although some people loathe this poetic license and prefer tradition it is one of the driving forces of change. Without challenging the rules Shakespeare might never have written sonnets and would definitely not have been able to write the ones he did. Without gravely distorting the truth, fiction itself would be utterly impossible. Without being a dick to language and fact, I think I would find life utterly boring.

My praise for poetic license does not come only from the fact that it makes life, through literature and poetry, more interesting. The entire concept of poetic license has an inherent anti-traditional tendency. One possible interpretation of my poem Eon is that it is an exhortation against blindly following tradition. I do not abhor tradition in and on itself but greatly dislike the fact that a large amount of people follow various traditions without truly thinking about why or how. Tradition can serve to anchor one in the past and provide a sense of identity but in light of the recent upheaval over the Dutch Saint Nicholas celebrations it is clear that tradition can also serve to hurt. Indeed, there are traditions which are obliquely hurtful. In short, tradition can be wonderful and wonderfully hurtful. Poetic license is merely the effort of challenging tradition in order to re-evaluate their worth. Indeed, such re-evaluation can increase the worth of existing traditions and create completely new traditions.

Those of you who have read some of my poems might now be wondering why I write an exhortation against tradition. I use some very traditional forms and don't, at this moment, see myself using free verse or the likes. I like some of the constraints put upon me by rhyme schemes and the likes. I do often figure out the rhyme scheme after the first stanza and then continue from there. Nevertheless, I also greatly dislike counting syllables. Fox example, my sonnets aren't written in iambic pentameter. Instead, I often use the length of sentences for poetic effect.

In conclusion, I love poetic license just as much as some poetic traditions. The traditions I use are the ones I choose to use, not the ones I might otherwise feel to be forced upon me. Poetic tradition allows me to connect with the past while poetic license allows me to connect with myself and, perhaps, the future.

Happy Reading!