Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2007 / 2 Adar, 5767
It could be verse (and is!)
By Lenore Skenazy
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dearest readers, give a cheer
A column that's a poem is here!
Yes, lots of words in metered gait,
Stanza, metaphor and — wait!
Is that the page I see a-turning?
Are you off to the funnies, spurning?
Anything that reeks of rhyme —
An art you rate right up with mime,
Writ by ladies round as jugs
Who read their sonnets to their pugs,
Or English teachers, drunk on Auden,
Geezers who a World War fought in,
Girls drowning in mascara,
Guys who high heels own a pair-a,
And all the hacks at Hallmark who
Spend whole lives rhyming with "to you!"?
That's what you think of poets, right?
And (does this rhyme?) the stuff they write?
Of course it is. But let's examine it:
What is it about verse that's damnin' it?
Just recently an obit ran
In ye olde Times, and it began:
"Maureen Cannon, a heavy hitter
In the world of light verse"
OK, the obit, it rhymed not
But if you read ahead — guess what?
This Jersey gal of 84
Wrote bubbly ditties by the score
And got them published far and wide
By bravely swimming vs. the tide.
(She also wrote more weighty stuff.
But we have come to praise her fluff.)
Here's one that still deserves a toast,
Titled, "Showers, Coast-to-Coast:"
We've never seen the lawn so green
Praise be! And yet we're mirthless
Because what made the grass this shade
Made our vacation worthless!
What's not to like about such verse?
When did rhyme become a curse?
I called a Yale smarty-pants —
John Hollander — and asked, perchance
Could he explain this form's decline?
He could, he said. "The pleasure's mine!"
The problem, as he figured it,
Is back when we were literate —
The 19th century and early 20th —
Everyone education or money with
Knew how to write a metered gem
Just like the kids today IM.
But then came verse so free of form
Sloppy glop became the norm
Till anyone who kept on rhymin'
Was oh-so-surely not his prime in.
Moreover, piped another trill —
Bruce Michelson at U. of Ill. —
As colleges gave poets jobs
That gang became the worst of snobs
Penning work so hard to crack
It guaranteed them tenure track.
(And if they wrote an utter yawn
They shipped it off to William Shawn.)
That left poems who dared to rhyme
Withering until the time
That folks like you say, "I was wrong!
I like a poem that snaps along,
And has some fun and makes me grin
And maybe isn't 'Gunga Din'
But still, it's kind of fun, you know?"
And off to find light verse you go.
Off to Google Maureen Cannon,
Or read the rhyming works of "Anon,"
Or just peruse the Hallmark rack!
Trust me: It's hard to be a hack.
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© 2007, Creators Syndicate