May 18th, 2006

poetrythursday

POETRY THURSDAY

First, I listened, twining hair about my hand, perhaps sucking on my thumb, my legs stuck out straight in front of me, my head resting in the crook of my mother's arm. Then I pored over the pictures, turning pages slowly, matching up images on each leaf with the images the words raised in my mind. There, Georgie Porgie with the weeping girls running from him, and there a cow jumping over the moon. I learned the ways of rhyme and tone, I sang them back with a singsong voice, repeating them until they were a part of me.

The rhymes and the rhythms are memory aids, cementing the poems and the ditties in place. Even now, I can recite without blinking scores of metered verse and childhood favorites. Simple Simon met a pieman. With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes. One shoe off and one shoe on. Animal crackers and cocoa to drink. Over in the meadow in the sand in the sun. There was a little girl who had a little curl. Sir Brian had a battleaxe with great big knobs on. Cinderella dressed in yella. One fish two fish red fish blue fish.

I think it's a shame that as we grow, the doggerel of simpler days becomes something most adults consider beneath them, too easy, too pat, something for children. Simple rhymes may be just that: simple, but there is a complexity in many rhyming poems that sometimes seems effortless and belies the hours of hard work and thought that went into them. There's a joy in rhyming poems that is too often lacking in the more serious fare we enjoy when we're grown.

What's your favorite rhyming poem from childhood? Here is one of mine:

Cadence
by Margaret Wise Brown

There is music I have heard
Sharper than the song of bird
Sweeter still while still unheard
There beyond the inner ear.
Softer than the sounds I hear
Softer than the ocean's swell
In the caverns of a shell,
Tinier than cutting wings
Of flying birds and little things,
Like a cat's paw in the night
Or a rabbit's frozen fright.
This is the music I have heard
In the cadence of the word
Not spoken yet
And not yet heard.

***

More great poems and poetry can be found: Poetry Thursday

Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: For a Song

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag gestern to guerrillascribe!