The pleasure of poetic pattern – David Silverstein


Just for a moment, focus on your breath. In slowly. Out slowly. In slowly. Out. The same pattern repeats within
every one of us and consider your pulse. The beat is built into the very
fabric of our being. Simply put, we’re creatures of rhythm
and repetition. It’s central to our experience, rhythm and repetition, rhythm and repetition. On, and in, and on, and out. And we delight in those aspects everyday, in the rhythm of a song, the beat of the drum, the nod of your head, or in the repetition of soup cans, the rows of an orchard, the artistry of petals. Pattern can be pleasure. In language, rhythm and repetition
are often used as the building blocks for poetry. There’s the rhythm of language, created by syllables and their emphasis, such as, “So long as men can breathe
or eyes can see.” And there’s the repetition of language
at multiple levels: the repetition of letters, “So long lives this
and this gives life to thee,” of sounds, “breathe,” “see,” “thee,” and of words. With so many uses, repetition
is one of the poet’s most malleable and reliable tools. It can lift or lull the listener, amplify or diminish the line, unify or diversify ideas. In fact, even rhythm itself, a repeated pattern of stressed syllables, is a form of repetition. Yet for all its varied uses, too much repetition can backfire. Imagine writing the same sentence
on the blackboard twenty times, again, and again, and again, and again, or imagine a young child clamoring
for her mother’s attention, “Mom, mom, mommy, mom, mom.” Not exactly what we might call poetry. So what is poetic repetition,
and why does it work? Possibly most familiar is rhyme, the repetition of like sounds
in word endings. As with Shakespeare’s example, we often encounter rhyme
at the ends of lines. Repetition in this way creates
an expectation. We begin to listen for the repetition
of those similar sounds. When we hear them,
the found pattern is pleasurable. Like finding Waldo in the visual chaos, we hear the echo in the oral chatter. Yet, rhyme need not surface solely
at a line’s end. Notice the strong “i” sound in, “So long lives this
and this gives life to thee.” This repetition of vowel sounds
is called assonance and can also be heard
in Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” Notice how the “e” and “o” sounds
repeat both within in and at the end of each line: “Oh, there goes gravity, Oh, there goes rabbit,
he choked, he so mad but he won’t
give up that easy, no, he won’t have it, he knows his whole back’s
to these ropes.” The alternating assonance
creates its own rhythm, and invites us to try our own voices
in echoing it. Similarly, consonance is the repetition
of like consonant sounds, such as the “l” and “th” in, “So long lives this
and this gives life to thee.” In fact, this type of specific consonance, which occurs at the beginning of words may be familiar to you already. It’s called alliteration,
or front rhyme. Great examples include tongue twisters. Betty bought some butter
but the butter was bitter so Betty bought some better butter
to make the bitter butter better. Here, the pleasure in pattern is apparent
as we trip over the consonance both within words and at their start. Yet tongue twisters also reflect the need
for variation in poetic repetition. While challenging to say, they’re seen by some
as lesser imitations of poetry, or gimmicky because they hammer
so heavily on the same sounds, closer to that blackboard-style
of repetition. Ultimately, this is the poet’s
balancing act, learning when to repeat and when to riff, when to satisfy expectations, and when to thwart them, and in that balance,
it may be enough to remember we all live in a world of wild variation and carry with us our own breath and beat, our own repetition wherever we go.

100 Replies to “The pleasure of poetic pattern – David Silverstein

  1. Love this video and all of you other ones, but I'm surprised at the limited number of people of color portrayed. Even the rapper highlighted was white which makes me wonder how much more accessible this educational video is for white people than people facing structural racism.

  2. I know that this is some sort of "deep thinking" type of video.
    But, come on guys… that's definitely a dick at 1:43

  3. This narrator is the real slim shady. I bet he drops the rhymes just like he drops the knowledge into our brains

  4. I love the shining at 1:48. And it seems like American Beauty is in there too. Any other movie references I'm missing?

  5. This is why Dr Seuss was so great.

    When tweedle beetles fight it's called a tweetle beetle battle.
    And when they battle in a puddle it's a tweetle beetle puddle battle.
    And when tweetle beetles battle with paddles in a puddle,
    they call it a tweetle beetle puddle paddle battle.
    And when beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle,
    and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle,
    they call this a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle.
    And when beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles,
    and the bottle's on a poodle and the poodle's eating noodles,
    they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle.

  6. His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
    There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti

  7. This is English poetry. Asian poetry works also with repetition but not really with alliterations and things in this video as long as I know. French poetry works with rhymes but also by counting the syllables, lines and paragraphs, for example, a famous French play "Tartuffe" is a five acts play ONLY composed of pairs of two 12-syllables-long rhyming lines (1962 to be precise) as of many plays of this time.

  8. Repetition requires a sense of progression, moement, otherwise it stops being a pattern and becomes a single unending feedback of useless and already aquired information. Our perception and understanding of the concepts, the reward that new information and understanding of a pattern makes us feel and how it motivates the repetition of change in our minds is what makes them so damn pleasurable. As human beings we have a thirst for analyzing patterns and a fear of stagnation, that's what drives change and (not always to) improvement.

    Repetition doesn't mean getting the same result over and over.
    We repeat things to better understand the process and achieve the desired outcome.

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  10. I saw this in school when they showed it to the whole school, only like 200 people. But when I saw the Eminem part, dis teach got bars.

  11. Sire…sire…please don’t call me a
    liar, for I swear I have not destroyed your pen outside of this beautiful
    empire.

    I am your lord, Avoris, and the
    truth of my pen, I aspire.

    But please, my lord, my ruler, my
    sire, I do not know; I swear I do not know where your pen is, for I am no liar.

    Liar, liar, but your clever lies, I
    do admire, but the truth of your treachery I solely desire.

    But what truth can I offer, if I am
    no liar?

    Why, your soul, entire.

    My soul entire? For the truth you
    require? How my soul, do you expect to acquire?

    Why, gods, rulers, miracles are my
    attire, and so your soul, with divine fire, I will tire; your soul, in you, the
    liar, and I will witness your soul retire.

    Please, my sire, spare me this
    grief, for I would never provoke your ire.

    I know it is you, Avoris, my
    squire, who stole my pen for your own desire, you stole it from me when we past
    that spire, for it was your wish, against me, to conspire.

    My lord, my sovereign, my sire, I
    swear I did not take the pen, I couldn’t have…please believe that I am no liar.

    I do care for you, my squire, but I
    do not believe that you are no liar; I see your lies lifting you higher,
    higher, with your mind on fire, into my wrath, entire. I see your soul, so
    dire, surrounded by my divine slaves: the gods, the miracles, all disguised as
    my attire…Avoris, let the truth transpire, save your soul, and for once…be no
    liar.

    Okay…it was me who stole your pen,
    but I did not destroy it in divine fire, I couldn’t, I wanted to but I couldn’t
    because I lost it prior.

    I know, Avoris, I know you did not
    destroy my pen, for I already have it back. It came back to me, Avoris, and it
    told me everything. And that is how I knew you were a liar, and now I shall
    take your soul, and watch it burn in divine fire.

  12. Dude u did well, u used lose yourself, in 02 this amusing music helped, Marshall Mather win an Oscar and held, the first rapper to have that in their belt,

  13. Your channel is the most useful channel i know so far.. thanks for making this channel, you gave me so many inspirations & knowledge although english is not my first language😊

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