Gresham’s Law of Versification

My friend and mentor, Edith Battles, gave me her copy of “The Art of Versification” before she died. Esenwein and Roberts’ book is very complete. It has a section on Vers Libre, a form that the French were into by the 1890’s. Esenwein and Roberts were late to the party, adding an appendix to their 1916 (2nd) edition.

Except for lyricists, no one is writing rhymed and metered verse, nowadays. It apparently isn’t being widely taught. One of my teachers forbade us to submit anything but free verse. Even an accidental rhyme would evoke her inner Medusa.

This dumbed-down, academic chicness has driven conventional poetry out of circulation, as a sort of Gresham’s Law of Versification. I don’t see any good reason for this.

It seems likely that academics can’t endure having to critique stack after stack of badly written poems replete with rhyme and meter, which give the student two more dimensions in which to perpetrate their awfulness.

“Okay, guys and gals, we’ll be doing haiku for the rest of the semester.” Cheers from students, covert smirk from instructor.

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