Robert Frost on Free Verse: “Cherished Prose”
Excerpt from How Hard It Is to Keep From Being King When it’s In You and In the Situation
(the King’s Son speaks:)
“Don’t let him fool you: he’s a King already.
But though almost all-wise, he makes mistakes.
I’m not a free-verse singer. He was wrong there.
I claim to be no better than I am.
I write real verse in numbers, as they say.
I’m talking not free verse but blank verse now.
Regular verse springs from the strain of rhythm
Upon a meter, strict or loose iambic.
From that strain comes the expression strains of music.
The tune is not that meter, not that rhythm,
But a resultant that arises from them.
Tell them Iamb, Jehovah said, and meant it.
Free verse leaves out the meter and makes up
For the deficiency by church intoning.
Free verse, so called, is really cherished prose
Prose made of, given an air by church intoning.
It has its beauty, only I don’t write it.
And possibly my not writing it should stop me
From holding forth on Freedom like a Whitman –
-The King’s Son in