Sound As Inspiration

From listening to actual sounds in the world around me, images can begin to dance in my head. The same has happened when I hear particularly rhythmic lines such as e.e. cummings’s “anyone lived in a pretty how town / (with up so floating many bells down)” and am pulled into the beat. Sound literally gets under the skin. Why even in free verse a subtle turn to rhythm, assonance, consonance, alliteration, and onomatopoeia helps lift the lines off the page and avoids that old accusation of a poem being “just chopped-up prose”.

Sometimes, too, as I grope for the right word, one will pop to mind that I know is completely wrong in terms of meaning. However, if I rhyme it through the alphabet, underneath I discover the very word I want has been one with a similar sound. More than mind, the ear has been in tune with what the spirit wishes.