“Captivated Syllabics” by Robyn Schiff

When reading “Captivated by Syllabics” by Robyn Schiff in A Broken Thing, I really thought about the role of syllables in poetry in a totally new way. Although I knew sometimes poets payed attention to the specific use syllables in poetry, I had never heard it put into words in an interesting and comprehendible way. Furthermore, I found Schiff’s discussion of the line itself interesting, from the very first paragraph. Schiff describes, “All lines flicker between two lives; now an isolated unit, now a contiguous part of a sentence and stanza and poem. Lines move like time moves, both in obtained moments, and boundlessly toward eternity. Maybe writing in lines fulfills our deepest and terribly contrary wish both to stop and to keep going at the same time. To hold captive, to be captivated, and also to let go and to be released” (215). This quote, I found, spoke to the way the line is both a statement all by itself, but is also a part of a whole. It’s one moment, but it also compels the reader to keep reading and moving through the poem. So, when someone reads a line, they might both feel like they want to stop at a certain line, but when they do that there is always the need to keep reading to find what comes next. Like Schiff says, the line is fascinating because of its contradictions.

Has anyone else written or read a poem where the use of syllables or the line in general was vital to the poem, or interesting,  or stood out to them in some way?

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