Rhyme and rhyme again

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), who knew more than a thing or two about rhyming, had this to say about those who judged poetry soley on basis that it had a regularity of rhythm and it rhymed:

But most by numbers judge a poet’s song,
And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong;
In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire,
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire;
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds; as some to church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require,
Though oft the ear the open vowels tire;
While expletives their feeble aid do join;
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:
While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes.
Where’er you find “the cooling western breeze,”
In the next line, it “whispers through the trees”:
If crystal streams “with pleasing murmurs creep,”
The reader’s threaten’d (not in vain) with “sleep”:
Then, at the last, and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes,…..

(An Essay on Criticism 1709)

A piece of advice that is still as pertinent today as it was when that great master rhymer was writing, I would say.

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