Tradition for tradition’s sake (a poem)

In the beginning there were only one syllable words;
when longer words were born,
their extra syllables were cut off or hidden
because a word with two parts could not be imagined.

After some time, a poet came along and said that two syllable words
were good for poetry,
Because half put the accent on the first half
and half put the accent on the second half.
They would complement each other perfectly.

The poet was killed for violating the order of language;
but then the words repented
and they discovered the beauty of two syllable words.
They made beautiful poetry:
sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, haikus,
all because half of the words had accents on the first half
and the other half had accents on the second half.

Sometimes three, four, and even five syllable words were born,
And their parents had to decide
which half of the word would have the accent
and which would not.
Any extra syllables could not be pronounced,
because that would ruin the poetry.

One day there was a rebellion against form;
a group of words were sick of rhyme schemes
and iambic pentameter;
so they said we can make poetry
that doesn’t rhyme;
and they did the inconceivable:
they pronounced the silent syllables of three, four, and even five syllable words.
Some words even had more than one accent.

The sonnets called a town meeting:
We must stop this rebellion
for the sake of all the poetry that has ever been written;
Random words are putting themselves together,
even in sentence fragments —
Verbs on other verbs
Nouns with other nouns (with no conjunctions in between).
What will happen next?
Will the letters themselves revolt and detach from their words?
Language will disintegrate into nonsense.
All of this can only be prevented
if we outlaw the pronunciation of
more than two syllables.
Nobody can help the number of syllables they’re born with
and it’s okay to have extra letters to look at
but the extra syllables must be silent
because there are two kinds of words:
those with accents on the first half
and those with accents on the second half.

If you think there are only two kinds of people,
then try writing poetry with only two syllable words,
alternating between those with accents on the first half
and those with accents on the second half.
As for me, I find that three, four, and five syllable words
are what keeps my poetry interesting.

3 thoughts on “Tradition for tradition’s sake (a poem)

  1. Pingback: Five verses God has tattooed on my heart — #1: 1 Corinthians 1:28 | Mercy not Sacrifice

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