Saturday, April 22, 2017

Poetic Principles: Agglutination and Thought Rhyming

Poetic Principles: Agglutination and Thought Rhyming

Two principles I employ when writing poetry are agglutination of word connections in linguistics, and thought rhyming of Hebrew poetry in the Bible.

After reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was 12 in 1976, I became entranced by the appendix where Tolkien presents the Elvish alphabet and three languages he invented. I spent a lot of time in grade school and high school studying linguistics, inventing my own alphabets and languages, and thus learning how languages arrange words to create meaning.

Languages range in style from highly agglutinated where many word segments are attached to create words that act as sentences, through languages with lots of declensions and verb conjugations which attach prefixes and suffixes to root words, to fragmented languages where every word is a complete unit in itself and meaning is conveyed by strict word order.

Native American languages are the oldest type that employ agglutination, where there are no single words, but concept words that are strung together to create a superword, an entire sentence of objects and actions in a single word.

Each line of my poetry I construct as an agglutinated superword, so all the words on a line generate its own thought word.

When I was in high school at a private Christian academy south of Seattle in the early 1980s, I studied the Bible all the time. My favorite translation is the New International Version. I loved reading the books of David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Jeremiah the best, as well as most of the minor prophets, because they wrote in a highly poetic style.

We had a Bible concordance set published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. My favorite chapter talked about the art of Hebrew Poetry, going into detail about the concept of Thought Rhyming. Hebrew poetry employs thought rhyming rather than sound rhyming, a technique far more intrinsic to the energy of poetry and translatable into any language.

The poet will express a thought in the first line, and then in the next line either express the same thought in new words, the opposite thought, or build on the original thought. An entire poem of a dozen to a hundred lines can be constructed on the back and forth interplay of thoughts. Read Psalm 23 as an example of how thoughts echo and step line by line.

Each line of my poetry I construct as a thought, and in following lines I build on that thought, so I employ thought rhyming in my verse.

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