The Problem With English

English is the international language today, but many still see French as a language of a higher class, for whatever historical reason it should be. Mastering a second language is already quite difficult. Why must we be required to master two? The cause has to be justifiable. The highest form of literature and language is poetry, of international consensus and beyond dispute. The three basic elements of poetry are rhythms, rhymes and counts, across all languages and cultures.

Now, the two major fixed forms of English poetry, both of which regular, are sonnets of Italy and haikus of Japan, both long and thin geographically, one of the West and the other of the East. It does look like a coincidence, though it’s not. Why? Italy was the Roman Empire, which invented the sonnets that most Western countries have bought in. You see, if you are strong, then everything you do is right and good. People from all over the known world learn from you and you are the role model for as long as you remain powerful. Somehow, sonnets prove to be quite difficult for English speakers, for reasons unknown. It’s supposed to be easier in English than in Italian or Latin to write fixed forms. Unfortunately, my Italian and Latin are not good enough to help me discover where the problem is. My reasoning is simple: English is more monosyllabic than most European languages. Why haikus? It was probably an attempt to remove rhythms from English poetry, which made it too hard to write. Most contemporary English poets even question the purpose of rhymes, while most song writers still know the importance of counts. Eventually, song writing will be more difficult than poetry writing in English. What a shame!

Why can’t English poets create a new form of poetry? Well, they even have trouble defining poetry today! Traditionally, it was easy to define poetry. If a piece of writing is musical on its own, it is a poem. Now, everyone from all over the world understands this: you need to have feet that form meters, whose endings must be marked with a different scheme, typically rhymes. Once you are required to form feet, you automatically have counts. Immediately, all three elements of poetry are there. Perhaps, HOW to write a proper poem is the problem!

I already talked about the heart of poetry ( and the life of poetry (, plus a brief introduction to Chinese poetry ( If there are no more questions, we can focus on the HOW from this point on.

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