01 March 2013

Limerick Laments

There once was an old man from Dover,
Who enjoyed - no, that's not it...

There was an old woman from Glasgow,
Who decided to open a magic- that sounds terrible...

Such has been my problem this week. (I have lots of problems this week, don't I?)

So, consider this part two from yesterday's life post. I said there was still some more left for me to share. So let's discuss poetry, shall we?

For my writing/poetry club we've been selling St. Patrick's Day Grams, which, in my opinion, are a tad overboard for the holiday. Just a tad. But then again that's what high school is. A lesson in moneymaking for the future stockbrokers and corporate leaders of America. Sorry for pointing it out. Carry on!

But I wanted to write a poem for the grams this time, because I missed out on the sonnet writing for Valentine's. And I like writing sonnets. And reading them. Besides Shakespeare, I wholeheartedly recommend Elizabeth Browning's Sonnets from the PortugueseShe's very good in all 44 of them. I have the first and second memorized, not the 43rd, though (the iconic "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways")

Elizabeth and her husband, master monologue poet Robert, are both my favorite poets. Their meeting story and love affair is something out of a fairy tale. My favorite poem of all time is "My Star", by Robert. "All that I know/Of a certain star/Is it can throw/Like the angled spar..."

But I digress. So this time I wanted to write a poem. And boy, do I regret it...This time, the theme was "limericks".

A limerick, if you don't know, is a short, witty poem of five lines, with the rhyme scheme a a b b a.

Edward Lear (1812-88) is one of the best known limerick writers. I've read him in elementary and middle school. Not so much now. The Schurr library doesn't think he's important. How sad. Or maybe I'm just not looking. (Stop digressing, Rob! Of course, I'm sorry.)

As to the limericks, I've been working on them for a week, with very little success. I've tried everything. Reading Edward Lear to get a feel. Listening to that Natalie Merchant album to get a childish flair. Reading some of my fellow writers'...

But the best I could come up with was this gem:

There once was an Old Man of Dover
Who enjoyed making lots of clovers.
Twenty sheets of green paper
With scissors and taper
Made millions, did that old man of Dover.

 It's ok. But it doesn't have quite the rhythm and flow. The feeling's there, all right. The big problem is that there is quite a lot to encompass in only 5 lines. And the third and fourth are the lines that I consider 'dead weight', because the lines are shorter and need only about 4-5 syllables. The first, second, and fifth lines (the 'a' rhythms) are usually and conventionally longer.

So I went back to the drawing board. Some coffee and biscuits (note: I have really stopped drinking coffee as of late. It's terrifying.), Natalie Merchant, Block Dude on the PC...and nothing. But then...wait for it...wait for it...I got this:

There once was a woman from Kilkenny
Who enjoyed collecting too many
Hats of all sizes
Including their price tags,
Till she went bankrupt, with hardly a penny.

That one's a little bit better. It's funny. It has the wit that the great Lear had. Rhythm. A point. But it's not holiday-oriented. Everyone liked the Old Man one better and I was inclined to agree. So once more I went...with nothing and horrible line fragments...

"'Until divine inspiration hit me.
And the stroke of nine', quoth he" , as the great literary poet Robert Miranda once penned in his great epic.
Ok, enough!

I had been playing with the rhyme scheme of John/leprechaun, which someone idly suggested as I showed them the above two poems. Add in something about gold, which was brought in by a song I was listening to.
And then I got it:

There once was a young boy named John
Who stole gold from a leprechaun.
He tripped over a pot
Of gold, and he thought
"I'll never steal again!" with a yawn.

Perfect. Well, not perfect. But nearly perfect, at least in my opinion. What do you think? Is it worthy of Edward Lear, or did it fall flat? You can be honest, I love constructive criticism. :) 

-Rob (the Limerick'd Leprechaun)

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