Dear Gather Critters:
Itâ€™s Poetics Week! Each week SunWinks! alternates between a topic on prose style and a topic on poetic technique.Â Today, in honor of my recent acquisition, Don Marquisâ€™ Archy and Mehitabel, weâ€™re going to look at some Nonsense Verse!
[Insert lecture on the difference between poetry and verse here.]
[Insert essay on the benefits of writing verse here.]
Tell you what, letâ€™s just display a crapload of my favorite examples; you can decide, intuitively or otherwise, what devices make it effective and funny, and emulate or riff on whatever strikes your fancy.
There was a young girl of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes
She drawled, â€œWhen Ah itches, Ah scratchez.â€
A young girl who was no good at tennis
But at swimming was really a menace,
Took pains to explain,
â€œIt depends how you train;
I was a streetwalker in Venice.â€
There was an old man of Calcutta,
Who coated his tonsils with butta,
Thus converting his snore
From a thunderous roar
To a soft, oleaginous mutta.
A thrifty young fellow of Shoreham
Made brown paper trousers and woreham;
He looked nice and neat
Till he bent in the street
To pick up a pin; then he toreham.
--A. H. Reginald Butler
I wish that my room had a floor;
I donâ€™t so much care for a door.
But this walking around
Without touching the ground
Is getting to be such a bore.
There was a young man of St. Bees
Who was stung on the arm by a wasp.
When they asked, â€œDoes it hurt?â€
He replied, â€œNo, it doesnâ€™t,
But I thought all the time â€˜twas a hornet.â€
There was an old scribe from Vancouver
Who was ever obsessed with his oeuvre
He would pull out a score
Of old poems from his drawer,
And heâ€™d polish them oover and oover.
A decrepit old gas man named Peter
While hunting around for the meter,
Touched a leak with his light;
He rose out of sight--
And, as everyone who knows anything about poetry can tell you, he also ruined the meter.
MORE OGDEN NASH GEMS
Develops the jaw,
But celery, stewed,
Is more quietly chewed.
The Perfect Husband
He tells you when youâ€™ve got on too much lipstick,
And helps you with your girdle when your hipstick.
The parsnip, children, I repeat,
Is simply an anemic beet.
Some people call the parsnip edible;
Myself, I find this claim incredible.
[Weâ€™re all familiar with this miniature classic.Â I was delighted to find this footnote in a Readerâ€™s Digest anthology.]
The one-l lama, heâ€™s a priest.
The two-l llama, heâ€™s a beast.
And I will bet a silk pajama
There isnâ€™t any three-l llama.
(The authorâ€™s attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as the three-alarmer.Â Pooh!)
from â€œA Definition of Marriageâ€
â€¦Just as I know that there are two Hagens, Walter and Copen,
I know that marriage is a legal and religious alliance entered into by a man who canâ€™t sleep with the window shut and a woman who canâ€™t sleep with the window open,â€¦
Moreover, just as I am unsure of the difference between flora and fauna, and flotsam and jetsam,
I am quite sure that marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgetsamâ€¦
That is why marriage is so much more interesting than divorce,
Because itâ€™s the only known example of the happy meeting of the immovable object and the irresistible forceâ€¦
FROM OGDEN NASH TOâ€¦
The more it
The more it
The more it
How cold my
How cold my
--A. A. Milne
from â€œArchy s Autobiographyâ€
if all the verse what I have wrote
were boiled together in a kettle
twould make a meal for every goat
from nome to popocatapetl
and all the prose what I have penned
if laid together end to end
would reach from russia to south bend
Write a piece of nonsense verse.Â Study the examples, identify tricks, devices, and flourishes which you find entertaining, and try to employ one or more in your piece.
- PutÂ SunWE in the title and tags.
- Share your post with Gather Writing Essential group.
- Indicate in some way which devices or techniques I should be paying attention to. Â (If responding to todayâ€™s, put Nonsense Verse in the title field.)
- This prompt does not turn into a pumpkin a week (or even two) from today.Â If your piece isnâ€™t done in the next week or two, get it in when you can.Â This is supposed to be fun.
- I will comment on every submission and include a link to it in the next column.
- If you would like a little more academic critiqueâ€”but still very friendly and positiveâ€”include the word "rigorous" in your post (e.g. "rigorous critique wanted").
Responses to previous prompts below. Let me know if I missed yours.
byÂ sarah leanne
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