nectarhoff: Rhyme Done Right

Rhyme Done Right

The Pennycandystore Beyond the El
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
                fell in love
                            with unreality
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
                          the licorice sticks
               and tootsie rolls
       and Oh Boy Gum

Outside the leaves were falling as they died

A wind had blown away the sun

A girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room

Outside the leaves were falling
                     and they cried
                                  Too soon!  too soon!

I wrote in a post on rhyme in Stanley Kunitz's poetry that I’m not a huge fan of assonance, consonance, rhyme, etc in contemporary poetry. But when I read this poem for the first time I was stumped—it’s childish in a lot of ways, the most obvious way being that the subject literally is adolescence and a candy store. But in this context heavy rhyme works perfectly. Granted the second half of the poem is less fun and airy, all of the wordplay contributes to the feeling I get that youth blows by too quickly. My favorite line is “Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom of that september afternoon” exactly because of how overwrought it is. The poet takes a risk, and in my opinion he gets away with it.

- 7/12/14


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