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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:

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!
mood: cheerful
music: Michael Franks—Popsicle Toes


That's one of your favorites from your childhood? I'm once again astonished by your incredibly smart smartness. When I read that question, this is the one that first came to MY mind (maybe because I heard it so much from my AUNT LYNN (*waving to my Aunt Lynn who loves reading Lizardek as much as I do*):

There once was a girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good,
She was very, very good.
And when she was bad,
She was horrid.

Were YOU that little girl, too? Because my mom says I was! :D

I've had Cinderella dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss a my head for most of the afternoon thanks to this post.



I was thinking of Georgie Porgie this week, surely all the little girls didn't run away from him? Some of them must have liked to have been kissed? Flashback to me in kindergarten chasing some boy and trying to kiss him.

As I am thinking back to childhood and all the rhymes I knew, this one pops to mind:

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house

Interesting history to it:

You can check out the history of other nursery rhymes too. Ring around the rosie was about the bubonic plague!

I've heard that, too, about Ring Around the Rosie, but I've also heard it refuted. I think the history of the rhymes is so interesting!

I agree

one hundred percent +

I loved the mother goose rhymes-- except about the blackbirds flying out of the pie-- yeeeek. that one (still) scares me.


Re: I agree

aaaww! that's actually one of my favorites, but probably mostly because I sang a really cool version of it once and that's how I think of it. :)


It may not be sophisticated to say, but I think the rhyming poems have a special quality that makes them more powerful than those without.



I love this post, Lizardek. On Thursday, I pulled out an old book of children's stories published in 1956. It's one of two volumes my mother bought for my brother and sister to read to them when they were one and two years old. I found these books at some point in the 1970s when I was a child. They were tucked away on a high shelf in our spare bedroom. Two poems on one page caught my attention, and I read them over and over, memorizing both. Nobody told me to read them. Nobody told me to memorize them, either. But I wanted to so I could carry those words everywhere. This first was Carl Sandburg's "Fog"; the second, Sara Teasdale’s "The Falling Star."

People can say what they will about the quality of these poems, but they were my first introduction to verse, and I will always carry them with me.

I think part of the reason rhymed poems can sound less refined is the way people read them, placing emphasis on the last word in the line and pausing there, leaving the listener (and reader for that matter) to feel like they are lurching along down a city street in congested traffic, so much start-stop motion. I try to do the opposite, placing less emphasis on the rhymed words and pushing through to the next line. This helps make the rhyme feel more organic and allows the other words to be heard for their meaning, so the piece isn't just a thing to hear but one to understand.

I also think rhyme is still very important in poetry, and that a lot can be learned from poets who used (and those who still use) end rhyme. I like to use rhyme and slant rhyme, but prefer to tuck the rhymes into the lines rather than having them hang their asses out at the end as if they are mooning folks. It's funny, even when I have 10 rhymes tucked into one short poem, someone might read it and ask why I don't use rhyme. I haven't decided if that means I've succeeded or failed in using it.

~Lynn at Sprigs and PoetryThursday

hey, have you heard about they have a weekly poetry reading in their audiobook podcast

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