Harry Hope's Saloon

This blog takes it's name from the setting for O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh -- a lousy gin-mill; a smoked-out, greasy dive where the habitues have all landed, it seems, permanently. Their lives, in each case, are paralyzed by fear and laziness. Like my own.

Monday, March 07, 2005

top ten atrocious rhymes

A lot of people don't like 'slant rhyme' (near rather than absolute identity in the ‘rime’, the final stressed vowel of a line and all following sounds. See, for example, the rhyme ‘rivers’/’lovers’ in Stalling's "Listening to the Monkeys..." -- and see what she does in stanza 5!). Unfortunately, I often hear it described either as laziness or as a sort of antinomian rejection of a pure-ryming tradition. However, aside from its usefulness in the deliberately weaking of a pattern, slanting can save a poet from the atrocities of the present list. In some of these cases, an obvious semantic link renders the rhyme completely uninspired. In other cases, usually when perfect rhymes are sparse, a rhyme pair is so highly conventionalized that it often seems undermotivated by content (‘forced’).
“The bells that cool my horse's tramp”, was Emily Dickinson’s apt metaphor for the value of slant rhyme. The following, then, must be elephants, or perhaps Panzers.

10. ‘seven’/’heaven’

I guess it's not as bad as ‘twelve’/’delve’ in the old nursery rhyme, but it's much more common. Country Joe and the Fish deserve kudos for the line "five, six, seven, open up the pearly gates", simultaneously a) punning on ‘8’, b) semantically evoking the lame rhyme for ‘7’ without lamely articulating it, and c) staying on topic. Best counting song I’ve ever heard, and maybe the only decent one.

9. ‘death’/’breath’

If Shakespeare jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

8. any combination of ‘fly’/’high’/’sky’

“Wind beneath my Wings” uses all three. Nice song which otherwise adheres to a regular pattern of fairly weak slant rhyme (‘shine’/’behind’; ‘truth’/’you’; ‘be’/’wings’). Yet one attempt at pure rhyme, and it’s hella lame.

7. ‘love’/’dove’

Whoa, how lucky that we have a symbol whose name rhymes with the name of that which it symbolizes! Guess we won’t have to put any, uh, thought into our poetic metaphors.

6. ‘junkie’/’flunkie’

Sorry, Sheryl. I still love your songs, even this one, but the rhyme is so severely lame that it needs live-in care.

5. ‘wait’/’late’/’date’

Billy Joel rhymed ‘date’ with ‘masturbate’. That was much kewler. BTW, did you know that Senator Clinton used “Captain Jack” at a major campaign function? Hilarious. I guess they read lyrics as often as they read bills.

4. ‘baby’/’maybe’

Okay, so not much rhymes with ‘baby’, but please don’t qualify your love on the basis of a purely poetic desperation.

If we were old-school Mormons, love songs might be adressed to our ‘babies’, facilitating rhymes with ‘rabies’ or ‘scabies’.

3. ‘bad’/’mad’/’sad’/’glad’

The words are far too literal, and the emotions too superficial, to be so strongly juxtaposed as in rhyme. Rhyme them with ‘fad’, ‘clad’, ‘plaid’, or ‘Galahad’, but not with one another.

2. ‘cry’/’die’

Which one did Elvis say he was lonesome enough to do? How about Hank Williams? John Denver? I always forget.

1. ‘mother’/’brother’

Anticlimactically obvious, I think. Lots of nice slant rhymes to choose from here. Highly recommended.


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