To Futz Around With Metric Beat and Time… (or would we all be hacks to Shakespeare?)

I wrote the following piece of poetry to dispute the comment quoted below from a fellow writer:

“To Shakespeare, we’d all be hacks by the very virtue of us writing prose, and we’re all hacks to most folks who disdain reading anyway.” — Fellow writer

I disagree about Shakespeare’s imagined take on prose vs. poetry. I don’t think Shakespeare could ever have been a poetry snob. The guy who created Dogberry, and Beatrice, Falstaff, and Juliet’s nurse, (among others) and wrote them with the compassion and understanding of a man who wrote his work as much for those in the cheap seats as for the royals in the high boxes was writing in the style of his time — not because it was precious, or special, or elite, but because it was the style of the time.

My take is that Shakespeare would have loved prose fiction, and would have been great at it, as well… because he was good with WORDS, and because he was a good plotter, a good writer, a ESPECIALLY because he was a good observer of human foibles and strengths who managed to create characters we can understand and empathize with centuries after he wrote them.

Poetry is not some superior form for fiction. It’s simply what was in style when he was writing.

So my response to my fellow writer was in iambic pentameter — because replying in such fashion fit the discussion, but also just because I can, and broad statements that ignore the nature of the people involved and the times they worked in annoy me.

Poetry Versus Prose… and Shakespeare

Well, one could tell a tale in rhythmic prose
And wander round the words in drifting bliss,
‘Voiding the thorn, focusing on the rose,
And in the process nearing hit, not miss…

But iamb is unwieldy, and gets lost
Within its strict-y structure and its ways
Of leaping from fair point to foul reef toss’d
With jagg’d digressions and meand’ring plays.

So we who love both prose and pretty rhyme
Transgress from time to time down the dark walk
And futz around with metric beat and time,
But would much rather write the way we talk.

On this bit of the quote: “We’re all hacks to most folks who disdain reading anyway,” I have a different reply.

People who don’t read don’t get an opinion on writing or writers, anymore than dogs get an opinion on what it means to be human.