‘Hamilton’: It’s about rhyme

A verse essay, to be read aloud to a hip-hop beat.
So why is “Hamilton” hot?
The one play on Broadway
whose tickets are not
find-able, buy-able,
cannot be got,
madly unfund-able,
don’t give it a thought.
But you wanna go
‘cause you know it’s The Show,
the hip-hop romp
that will totally blow
your mind, it’s so fine.
It’s a matter of time.
And you’ll know when you go,
when you finally see it,
sit in your dearly bought theater se-at,
what makes it sublime
as you hear every line
is this magical thing called rhyme.
 
Rhyme is delight,
sound on speed,
vowels in flight,
what our ears need.
Back in our mothers
we heard her heart beat,
rhythm the metronome
that made life sweet.
When we were born
we lost the sound that
told us our story then.
We want it back again.
 
And so rhythm rocks us
easy & deep.
And so rhyme makes us
feel complete.
 
Rhyme is an echo,
rhyme is a charm,
a repetitive re-do
with power to disarm
 
to send us surprise,
to teach us a lesson,
to keep us apprised.
Yo, rhyme is a weapon,
a blade that is sharp,
a draw that is quick,
a shot in the dark,
a walkway that’s slick,
 
so watch how you step,
you could lose your footing.
A rhyme that’s adept
is more than a good thing—
it’s better, it’s bolder,
it’s brighter, it’s best,
it’s the salt on your steak,
it’s the zest
 
for life and for words
that name who we are,
the stories we’ve heard,
the fates of the stars
that blaze and burn out
’cause nothing can last.
Rhyme lets us shout
furious and fast,
to dress up the truth,
to make it more real,
to stretch out our youth,
to sing how we feel,
to move in time
so it doesn’t move us.
Rhyme is our sign
and in rhyme we trust.
 
Why we love Shakespeare,
why we love Frost,
poets who write lovely poems
about loss—
why we love Tupac,
why we love Nas,
street-saavy singers
who teach us the cost
of slavery, racism,
our perilous past—it’s
so dark in order to scrap it
we rap it.
 
Rhyme repeats history.
Wisdom demands it.
Rhyme tells our story
so that we can stand it.
 
“Hamilton” sings
our American song.
Teaches us things,
the right and the wrong,
the facts of our fathers
who founded our nation,
the wives and the daughters
who made their oblation
in order for us
to become what we are.
It cost us that much
to come this far.
 
And so we love them.
How could we not?
They’re speaking our language.
It’s our freedom they bought
with their blood and their brains,
with their nerve and their wit—
they tell us our story
and tell all of it—
three hours on the stage
on a New York night,
every battle that raged,
every unequal fight.
A story that’s true,
that will last for all time.
It’s about me and you.
And it’s about rhyme.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Pope Francis has appointed 16 members (eight men and eight women) to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Gerard O’ConnellFebruary 17, 2018
This time the victims themselves are not having it. From the moment the first shots rang out, they captured the horror and broadcast it, forced the nation to confront it and talk about it.
Kevin ClarkeFebruary 16, 2018

Given the moment we are in, you might think a lot of shows on television would be trying to talk about current events or “America” in some way. But in point of fact, there aren’t that many. And even fewer are doing it well.

Jim McDermottFebruary 16, 2018
A conversation with Liel Leibovitz and Stephanie Butnick on faith, fasting and podcasting
Olga SeguraFebruary 16, 2018