crotchets and quavers—without amused impatience, butnthat is also true of almost everything written on meter—nwhether Greek, Latin, or English. It is a field dividednbetween metaphysical theorists (all linguists fall in thisncategory) and pedantic collectors of useless data. The onlynway to learn about rhythm is by reading and writing verse.nSome 20th-century poets learned a great deal fromnHopkins and even improved upon the master. I do notnknow to what extent Robinson Jeffers had meditated uponnthese questions, but even a minor poem of his, like “ThenBloody Sire,” shows an almost perfect command of thentechnique:nIt is not bad. Let them play.nLet the dogs bark and the bombing-planenSpeak his prodigious blasphemies.nIt is not bad, it is high time.nStark violence is still the sire of all the world’s values.nBy limiting himself to four stresses and varying the patternnand number of unstressed syllables, Jeffers achieves some ofnthe effects of Greek lyric. An ancient metrist, who translatednJeffers’ pattern of accents into quantitative terms, wouldnhave been able to cite parallel passages in Sophocles andnEuripides, but an untutored reader can feel the rhythmicnpower quite as much as the classicist.nJeffers’ ability to stir the blood against foreign wars ornimperialism was not unrelated to his rhythms. Other Britishnand American poets have helped to shape the minds of theirncontemporaries on a host of religious, moral, social, andnpolitical questions. Would there have been a British ornAmerican mind (by which I mean a shared conscience)nwithout Shakespeare, Dryden, Milton, Wordsworth, andnTennyson? Great poets do more than reflect reality: Theynrecreate it in the minds of their audience. Without poets wenare faced with a stale world recreated in the civilizednplatitudes of politicians and preachers.nI know of no great and free people that has not debated itsnissues and defined its consensus in verse more than in prose.nIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles:nAmerican Empiren”Our persistent refusal to see the Vietnam War as a clashnof empires and our denial that America has any legitimatenimperial mission or interests made it impossible fornus to justify our presence in Vietnam to our own people.nWe deny that we are an empire; at the same time, wenpermit or promote the practice of the melting pot innethnic and cutural pluralism, which makes it impossiblenfor our country really to be a nation.”n12 I^HRONICLESn—from “The Treason System”nby Harold O.J. BrownnnnGreek drama, Roman satire and epic, and the reflectivenlyric verse of Britain and America were all the literatures ofnfree and vigorous nations. Themistocles had his Aeschylus,nAugustus his Vergil, Elizabeth her Shakespeare. The lastnhurrah may have been Robert Frost’s appearance at thenKennedy inauguration at which the great conservative gaventhe lie to all the citizen-of-the-world patriotism that infectednKennedy and every President since:nSuch as we were we gave ourselves outrightn(the deed of gift was many deeds of war)nto the land vaguely realizing Westward,nbut still unstoried, artiess, unenhanced,nsuch as she was, such as she would become.nIt was not until theorists and bunglers hit upon free versenthat poetry lost all social and political significance duringnthe great “revolution” of the 60’s, students did not regaleneach other with recitations of Allen Ginsberg’s “WichitanVortex Sutra.” They were listening to Crosby, Stills, andnNash (how hard it was to escape “Judy Blue Eyes” throughoutn1969 in San Francisco!) or Bob Dylan. Even Ginsbergnknew this and inserted Dylan’s music into the performancenof his free verse excrescence. And the reactionaries were notnquoting Robert Lowell or even Richard Wilbur (a poet whonunderstands rhythm). They were listening to the Beatlesnmock “Revolution” or hearing with astonishment, as I did,nfor the first time, on the way to the infamous free RollingnStones concert in Altamont, California, Merle Haggard’sn”Okie from Muskogee.”nIf poetry—good and bad—is rhythmical speech, then itnis small wonder that popular singers were able to shape thennational imagination to an extent undreamed of by mostncontemporary American poets, who still give their classesnlectures on the social significance of literature. Even theynknew it is not so. If a poet was once a free man singing to anfree people, he is now an underpaid member of a servileninterest group at the beck and call of equally servilenbureaucrats. If it has any effect at all, the arhythmia ofnmodern verse can only reinforce the sense of powerlessnessnand anonymity which the carefully dressed men in chargenwould like to impose on us all. This point was not lost uponnFrederick Turner, who, in the same essay, suggested that thentotalitarian mind had a special affinity for free verse. Realnpoetry in a place like the Library of Congress would be asndangerously disruptive as the rebel yell that awakens tribalnmemories of semibarbarian liberty.nThese are not trifling matters. A great poet cannot saventhe world, but what he does is as close as man can come tonthe divine creation of the universe. It is by the power ofnspeech, we are told, that the universe was made: The Wordnbecame world. Other arts, like music, may be morensublime; others, like painting, capable of more perfectnbeauty. But it is poetry and poetry alone that takes our mostnhuman quality, language, and uses it to express the greatnrhythms of creation—the beat of our hearts, the ebb andnflow of tides, the endless round of planets, and the vastnadagio of galaxies as they make their way across the void. Anman who has heard this music cannot permanently succumbnto the drum and fife rhetoric of despots and demagogues.nWe shall never again be a free people until we havenpoets who sing to us in unfree verse.n