Rhyme, Rhythm & Reason-Rouser ... !

Giving Rhyme to Reason

Combinations of ideas that would probably never occur to us may be easily suggested by a given rhyme.”       – [Henry Lanz, The Physical Basis of Rhyme]

And so, my own attempts to interweave ideas, even the most rational, researched, and scientific ideas, through the most unlikely of mediums: rhyming verse.

Using the more whimsical, creative and aesthetic power of rhyme, for science’s sake

Painting of Einstein's Art and Science, by Clary Meserve

Einstein’s Art and Science, by Clary Meserve

At first glance, rhyme and reason seem to be the most unlikely of bedfellows! Yet the “light and lyrical” manages to lend itself quite readily to logic … and to the ever more complex and awe-inspiring world of science.

To see just who is ‘pulling back the covers’ on this implausible pair, you merely have to glance across the ocean to the U.K., where researcher and science communicator Sam Illingworth is giving even the most elaborate scientific research an equally elaborate poetic voice!

Squint harder and you’ll glimpse Australian poet Celia Berrel,  sculpting science onto a beautifully “secure framework” … rhyme. For her, verse itself, by its very structure, is the perfect armature for modelling, curing and casting information into very aesthetic and manageable parts.  So it does seem that art has both the buoyancy and ballast to combine science’s unexpected ideas, the familiar and unfamiliar, in a very Lanzian-like way. 

With color and verve, a growing number of children’s writers, like the talented author/illustrator Douglas Florian, are exploring the movement, cadence, and melodiousness of rhyme to capture the essence of the cosmos and the natural world. Meanwhile, British ‘word-tickler’ Eric James is playing with the poetic possibilities of PI! Even the outrageous Jon Scieszka is juggling fact, parody, and meter, all in the name of science …

Why give rhyme to reason?

Rhyme lies deep in human nature and in human language. Even attempting to trace it back is like trying to find the origins of the first dance step (Lanz)!  It resonates throughout the human experience. And  rhyme, acoustic by nature and filled, as it often is, with alliterative sound, is incredibly mnemonic! Above all, its harmony, rhythm and musicality hold near universal appeal for children, and for the children-in-us all …


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