Gilbert's Letter to The Times of 29 August 1894
Issue 34355, pg. 3 col G


Rhyme


Sir,--Lines that profess to rhyme should rhyme, even as lines that profess to be grammatically constructed should obey the rules of grammatical construction. Grammatical rules are quite as mechanical as the rules of rhyme, but Lord Grimthorpe would scarcely ridicule those who insist on grammatical precision, or justify such ridicule on the ground that the grammatical test is merely a mechanical one. Many a fine poem contains faulty rhymes, and many a fine thought has been expressed in words that cannot be parsed; but it does not follow that these works would not, on the whole, have been better if their composers had complied with accepted rules.

Lord Grimthorpe is quite at sea in the matter of rhyme. There are no better rhymes in the English language than many of those which he puts forward as faulty. Earth and birth, riven and given, sphere and year, heart and depart, and others, are absolutely irreproachable. He is evidently under the impression that rhymes should satisfy the eye as well as the ear. Rhyme is simply an analogy of sound.

As you have opened your columns to this question, may I ask you to extend your complaisance to a consideration of the words of that preposterous doggerel the National Anthem? It is scandalous that such pitiable drivel should be found in association with one of the grandest and most impressive themes in the English language. Perhaps some of the candidates for the vacant Laureateship will turn their attention to this subject.

I am your obedient servant,

Harrow Weald, Aug. 28.
W.S. GILBERT
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