So I started reading Paradise Lost by John Milton. But before I even got to the poem itself, there was this:

“The measure is English Heroic Verse without Rime as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; Rime being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse, in longer Works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to set off wretched matter and lame Meeter; grac’t indeed since by the use of some famous modern Poets, carried away by Custom, but much to thir own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse then else they would have exprest them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish Poets of prime note have rejected Rime both in longer and shorter Works, as have also long since our best English Tragedies, as a thing of it self, to all judicious eares, triveal and of no true musical delight: which consists only in apt Numbers, fit quantity of Syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one Verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoyded by the learned Ancients both in Poetry and all good Oratory. This neglect then of Rime so little is to be taken for a defect though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar Readers, that it rather is to be esteem’d an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recover’d to Heroic Poem from the troublesom and modern bondage of Rimeing.” [All the typos are in the Wikisource text, and I assume are as found in some original.  I think they are due to the fact that English spelling had not yet been standardized.]

Clearly, Milton was not a fan of rhyming. Or rimeing.

I think it’s sort of funny that he started out his Biblical epic by kvetching about rhyme and meter. I like to imagine that some poor sap saw a draft of Paradise Lost and asked, “Why doesn’t it rhyme?” And it set Milton off.

I particularly enjoy the “It may seem so perhaps to vulgar Readers” bit. That’s brilliant!  I think I’m going to put a disclaimer at the start of all my writing from now on: “Readers, if you don’t like this, it means you’re stupid. It’s a work of genius.”

Paradise Lost may be a great poem, but I think it’s fair to say English rhyme is still going strong in spite of Milton’s objections.

I’m sitting here eating crackers,

I dip ‘em in something bad for my liver.

The branches outside move in the wind;

And I reach for my sword when they quiver.

The Xboxes whir in the night-time

As I wait for the red ring of death.

I don’t suppose anyone knows

How long I can go without breath?

The creatures all over the mansion

Hide in the shadows when I look around.

But I feel their presence upon me,

And twitch upon hearing their mockery sound.

I don’t think the lights will stay on in the storm—

I don’t think we can get pressure on Brady—

I don’t like the fact that there’s ground on the snow—

I’m losing my mind for the love of a lady.

My paranoia has gone to extremes;

I think Wikipedia’s telling the truth.

I think that some monarchist penguin

Is judging me for the sins of my youth.

Mister or Miss, don’t misjudge or dismiss

This missive of awful inanity.

For as bad as it is living like this,

I’ve found I prefer it to sanity!