Thursday, October 2, 2008

How to kill a poem in the first line -- join in the fun

I have belonged to an online discussion group called Piffle for about seven of its 10 years. It's like the best lawn party ever, with lovingly discussed topics like food, history, a shared encyclopedic knowledge which elevates trivia to a doctoral level, and always and ever, books. The group is an offshoot of another one, still in progress, called LordPeter. LP has discussed Dorothy Sayers and her detective Lord Peter Wimsey since the late 90s.

Word games turn up often, and this one prompted me to indulge in a little cut-and-paste for your reading pleasure.


How to kill a poem in the first line:

A rhyming dictionary underneath the bough
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread -- and thou
Transcribing in the wilderness --
O wilderness were paradise enow!

Omar Khayyam


In Flanders fields
The poppies blow
And antihistamine sales are way up

John McCrae


Oh, to be in England Now that April's there, and I can flee the IRS tax men
back in the USA.

- Robert Browning


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
One, two, three ... Gee, I guess that's about it.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
I chose the one that got me into town more quickly

- Robert Frost


The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor,
In other words, it was a dark and stormy night

- Alfred Noyes

[and further to Noyes...]

The highway man came riding -- riding --
Riding --
Up to the Starbucks door


The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with a strange device,
'MacDonald's 500 metres!'

Longfellow - 'Exelsior!'

[and again, with footnotes!]

The shades of night were falling fast,
And the rain was falling faster,
When through an Alpine village passed
An Alpine village pastor.


Of all the sad words
Of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these:
"Your manuscript does not meet our current needs."

- John Greenleaf Whittier


In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree
Where Alph, the sacred river...
All right, all right, stop knocking on that door!

- S.T. Coleridge


It is an ancient mariner
and he stoppeth one of three
the other two, however, dummied past and scored a try!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - 'The Ancient Mariner'


Twas many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea,
That there lived a maiden whom you know know, by the name of Annabel Lee.
She was a child and I was a child, in that kingdom by the sea,
But alas, we grew up.

Annabel Lee (Poe)


My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun,
And so I ditched her for a prettier one.



Batter my heart, three-personed God,
For *ulp*

(Note found on Dean Ioannus Donne, who died untime'ly from a heart attack)


At the round earth's imagined corners
they really ought to post a traffic light.

(certainly not John Donne)


Let us go then, you and I.
Oh, you're busy? Maybe later.

(probably not T.S. Eliot)


Twice or thrice had I loved thee
before I knew thy face or name.
Then the cops tracked me down.

(also not John Donne)


Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
but your call is important to us,
please remain on the line,

(not you-know-who either)


1 comment:

di Griz said...

'twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
All mimsy were the borogoves
And Lewis Carroll must've been doing some interesting drugs.