Pink band across top, turquoise below; a couple embracing next to a suitcaseLost Love, Robin Helweg-Larsen (ed)

Sampson Low, Potcake Chapbooks, 2022      £2.60 + p&p  

What rhyme allows

Lost Love is a small anthology of seventeen poems all of which use rhyme to explore their subject. You could keep it in your pocket and take it out for quiet contemplation or maybe even impress someone at a social gathering — a bit like reciting a limerick! — although not all the poems have an easy rhyming structure, and they are very different from each other.

Perhaps it’s easy these days not to take rhyming poetry seriously, but as I read I realised how versatile it is, the breadth of emotion it can carry. A lot of these poems land a punch as they close. So, of course, there can be anger at the ‘loss of love’; ‘Triolet to a Perceptive Girl’ by David Whipman ends:

I cannot hide my soul from you.
They see so much, your sparkling eyes —
That’s why, you nosey bitch, we’re through.

Quite a shock that, after the lilting rhythms that have preceded it. Alternatively some of the poems show a humorous view of the situation which is more relaxed. For instance, ‘Love Story’ by Richard Fleming ends:

I thought myself in love but I was wrong.
I loved you only when your hair was long.

Then there’s the old chestnut of how sentimental a poem can be. The poem ‘Smoke’ by Michael R. Burch ends with the lines:

The endless days of summer’s haze I still recall today;
she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away

I felt the rhyme here gave me permission to enjoy what might without have seemed too sentimental?

Perhaps most interesting is the way rhyme can help put forward an argument — a philosophical point of view — a bit like in a Shakespearean sonnet. These are the last four lines of Gail White’s ‘Into the Fire’:

All the loves given, even reluctantly,
are still our loves. Let’s not make little of them.

They form the empyrean that burns on
when sun and moon and stars have packed and gone.

Anne Bailey