On poems and things

I am not a poet. Many years ago I wasm a poet. While in kindergarten I composed my first and last poetic masterpiece. I wish I were a fish Sitting in a dish. If Daddy were a trout I would shout and shout!

It was never published, but my teache r read it out loud to the class and it was well received. She even showed it to my parents, and although my mother was ecstatic, my father -- as befits an Englishman of the stiff-upper-lip-and-all-that school -- kept his emotions deeply in check.

I had the visions of becoming a great poet and earning lots of pennies. I had, of course, somewhat naive ideas about the value of good literature; also, of course, the penny was worth considerably more than it is nowadays!

However it was not to be.

In my thoughts, I over-rated poets, I imagined strong, silent, passionate men , pacing their lonely garrets, trying to find words to rhyme with philanthropicallym or zempoaltepetlm or even those frightful Welsh place names that nobody can pronouce unless he is a Welshman. Moreover, I had heard of "poetic license" and I thougt that perhaps one had to be of somewhat maturer years before one could apply for a license.

Later I conveyed these misgivings to a poet whom I knew, and he muttered something about writing "unrhymed iambic pentameter verse." I never did understand him, but later still I couldn't help noticing that poems were changing.

No longer did poets bother to compose neat little poems like my "I wish I were a fish." Their compositions would meander down a page like a mountain stream. They seemed determined to take up as much space as possible. I wondered why.

In conversation with a friend about one Charles Dickens, a British writer of some repute, I learned that originally Dickens was paid by the line. That explains why his "A Christmas Carol" contains passages like this:

"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster: . . . "

And he calls Marsley's ghost, "An undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato . . . "

Light dawned.

The secret long treasured by professional poets was revealed to me; I intend to make it public without delay.

Poets are now paid by the line!m

That is why, you see, they try to elongate their compositions.

If I were writing my "I wish I were a fish" now -- in 1980 -- it would probably go like this: I wish I were a fish Sitting in a dish. If Daddy were a trout, I would shout and shout!

Very cleverly, I have converted four lines into twelve, thus tripling the earning power of this poetic composition. There is only one thing I need to know before I embark upon a new career.

Where does one go to obtain a poetic license?

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.




Save for later


Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items


Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items


Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items