The Integrity of the Line

In free verse, ideally each line feels like a rung in an asymmetrical ladder, moving from there to here. It is integral to the structure, not merely a casual spillover from a sentence above. Even if not grammatically self-contained, nor end-stopped, each line is essential to advance an idea, image, or emotion. It belongs, and in content, sound, and texture partakes of the subtler rhythms underlying the whole. As Theodore Roethke, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound each said, free verse is not “free”. It aspires far beyond chopped up prose limp with explanatory thus, that, which, so, because, and falling flat on the ear.