I entered the Temple of Sound through the Gate of Words, which is not so grand as the entrance the musicians use, but I am a poet and we are not very grand creatures. My gate is a tiny back-alley wrought iron affair with creaky hinges, and the password is “dactylic trimeter” but if you don’t know it, they’ll ask you what a spondee is, and if you don’t know that, there’s a place to hop the fence next to the rose trellis up against the south wall where it’s not too noticeable, and the gravel crunches nicely when you land on the other side.
Once in the hall, I drove the critics and scansioneers mad marking stresses in half notes and quarters, setting vowels on staves. There is more music in it than most poets would like, but let’s admit it: sound is important, and you just can’t mark a bare touch of emphasis with only an ictus and a breve. So I unlearned them. Instead, I learned to mark time by syllable with the swish of my denim on the stone floor, my feet gone all trochaic; to bow assonance into vowels so long I could drape them from the towers; to play with staccato bursts of consonance like a curt volley of cannon fire. It was through words I learned to dance.