Monday, March 10, 2008

Tropical rhymes

Metre and rhyme can exert interesting and unnatural pressures on words. Nick Cave has a lyric - and here I'm interested in the rhyme words 'tropical' and 'hospital' - that runs:

Karl Marx squeezed his carbuncles
while writing Das Kapital
And Gauguin, he buggered off, man,
and went all tropical
While Philip Larkin stuck it out
in a library in Hull
And Dylan Thomas died drunk in
St. Vincent's hospital.

That drawing out of the last syllable of 'tropical', that slight distortion foisted on the word by the rhyming line, makes the language that little bit more striking. And there are echoes here of something but I'm not sure what. Perhaps it's Lowell (Cal rhymes with tropical) ... an early draft of 'Home After Three Months Away' ended:

For months
My madness gathered strength
to roll all sweetness in a ball
in color, tropical ...
Now I am frizzled, stale and small.

Are there other poems that use rhyme with 'tropical'? Peter Porter has it at a line end, but no rhyme for it in sight:

In the chartreuse
glow of the tropical
fish tank, the doctor
tells me his good news:
the better the new cures
the longer the teeth
of the thing that
gets you in the end

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