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Robert Graves (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

46. Free Verse

I NOW delight

In spite

Of the might

And the right

Of classic tradition,

In writing

And reciting

Straight ahead,

Without let or omission,

Just any little rhyme

In any little time

That runs in my head;

Because, I’ve said,

My rhymes no longer shall stand arrayed

Like Prussian soldiers on parade

That march,

Stiff as starch,

Foot to foot,

Boot to boot,

Blade to blade,

Button to button,

Cheeks and chops and chins like mutton.

No! No!

My rhymes must go

Turn ’ee, twist ’ee,

Twinkling, frosty,

Will-o’-the-wisp-like, misty;

Rhymes I will make

Like Keats and Blake

And Christina Rossetti,

With run and ripple and shake.

How pretty

To take

A merry little rhyme

In a jolly little time

And poke it,

And choke it,

Change it, arrange it,

Straight-lace it, deface it,

Pleat it with pleats,

Sheet it with sheets

Of empty conceits,

And chop and chew,

And hack and hew,

And weld it into a uniform stanza,

And evolve a neat,

Complacent, complete,

Academic extravaganza!