We have already stated that lyrics are not poetry, though we agree with Jimmy Webb when he says, ‘Not all great poetry is lyrical but all great lyrics are poetic . . . Which is to say all great lyrics use the devices of poetry – metaphor, simile, imagery, alliteration and meter, among others’ (1998: 12). And while rhyme is often associated with poetry (though less so these days, where there is more freedom), it is fair to say that rhyme is first and foremost a musical device (and I maintain this even in the face of up-in-arms poets). Musically, it pleasures that basic of senses, the one we first react to as babies, hearing itself. It’s a mnemonic exercise in recognition, combining music with words to delight us, especially in popular songs, ballads and the like. And combined with a distinctive voice, they develop our memories – and rhyming has a huge part to play in this. Poetry attracts the senses through our reading and sometimes through the recitation, but the song lyric is like no other, because in a perfect situation it comes straight to us through the sense of hearing; and what a delight it is to be able to ‘listen’, especially to something that can bring such enormous pleasure, and even more to someone who brings joy in the delivery.
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- To rhyme, or not to rhyme: that is the question
- Macmillan Education UK
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- CHAPTER 14