There’s an unintended pun in the silly old rhyme to which the title of this blogpost alludes. The rhyme, if you never have heard it or if more important infobits have edged it out of your consciousness, goes:
You may be a poet
Though you do not know it,
But your feet show it:
The play on words (it’s not a true pun) on Longfellow/long (feet) is NOT the unintended pun to which I refer, however. I am speaking of feet (pedal extremities)/feet (of a poem). In poetry, trimeter has three “feet,” tetrameter four, pentameter five, and so on.
Today my point in this blogpost is to suggest that indeed you may be a poet though you do not know it. Have you tried? Have you tried writing poetry?
There are many forms of poetry, some arcane and some well-known. I want to address just three here: limericks, haiku, and doggerel verse. Most of us know a limerick when we see/hear one. Though famed for the fact that many are bawdy, limericks need not be risqué at all. This famous limerick (author unknown) could get past any Ms. Prim with hardly a blush:
There was a young lady from Bangor
Who slept while the ship lay at anchor.
She awoke in dismay
When she heard the mate say,
“Now hoist up the top sheet and spank ’er!”
That is an example of the clever rhyming (Bangor, anchor, spank ’er) often associated with limericks yet by no means necessary. What IS necessary is that lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme, and lines 3 and 4 rhyme.
Moving on to haiku, while classic Japanese haiku deal mostly with the seasons,, that is not necessary in English haiku. What is necessary for purists is the requisite scansion of five syllables for the first line, seven for the second, and five for the third.
Here is one of my own:
The soft suede of fog
Wraps the city in silver
And hushes all sound.
And finally there is doggerel verse, whose dictionary definition is: comic verse composed in irregular rhythm. I don’t quite agree with that definition. Not all doggerel verse is comic IMO, nor need it be composed in irregular rhythm. I think most any poem that doesn’t fit one of the classic formats and is informal can be classified as “doggerel verse.”
Here is an example (author unknown) that IS comic, however:
As I was sitting in my chair
I knew the bottom wasn’t there,
Nor legs, nor back, but I just sat,
Ignoring little things like that.
Here the rhyme scheme is A, A, B, B, but that is not a requisite.
Why don’t YOU try your hand at composing at least one each of limerick, haiku, and doggerel verse? You may be a poet though you do not know it, but your VERSES show it…!