Their free verse was no form at all, yet it made history.
Free verse seemed democratic because it offered freedom of access to writers. And those who disdained free verse would always be open to accusations of elitism, mandarinism. Open form was like common ground on which all might graze their cattle – it was not to be closed in by usurping landlords.
I am not at all clear what free verse is anymore. That’s one of the things you learn not to know.
But in a lot of ways my poems are very conventional, and it’s no big deal for me to write a poem in either free verse or strict form; modern poets can, and do, do both.
I never abandoned either forms or freedom. I imagine that most of what could be called free verse is in my first book. I got through that fairly early.
Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.
If a poem is not memorable, there’s probably something wrong. One of the problems of free verse is that much of the free verse poetry is not memorable.
Modernism in other arts brought extreme difficulty. In poetry, the characteristic difficulty imported under the name of modernism was obscurity. But obscurity could just as easily be a quality of metrical as of free verse.
Well, it’s a badge of honour for any self-respecting poet to be criticized by Auberon Waugh. But in a lot of ways my poems are very conventional, and it’s no big deal for me to write a poem in either free verse or strict form; modern poets can, and do, do both.
Metrics are not a device for restraining the mad, any more than ‘open form’ or free verse is a prairie where a man can do all kinds of manly things in a state of wholesome unrestrictedness.