A poem about poetics from Andrew Lang, author of the popular coloured fairy books.
RHYME OF RHYMES
Wild on the mountain peak the wind
Repeats its old refrain,
Like ghosts of mortals who have sinned,
And fain would sin again.
For “wind” I do not rhyme to “mind,”
Like many mortal men,
“Again” (when one reflects) ’twere kind
To rhyme as if “agen.”
I never met a single soul
Who SPOKE of “wind” as “wined,”
And yet we use it, on the whole,
To rhyme to “find” and “blind.”
We SAY, “Now don’t do that AGEN,”
When people give us pain;
In poetry, nine times in ten,
It rhymes to “Spain” or “Dane.”
Oh, which are wrong or which are right?
Oh, which are right or wrong?
The sounds in prose familiar, quite,
Or those we meet in song?
To hold that “love” can rhyme to “prove”
Requires some force of will,
Yet in the ancient lyric groove
We meet them rhyming still.
This was our learned fathers’ wont
In prehistoric times,
We follow it, or if we don’t,
We oft run short of rhymes.