Poetry can mean playing with words. After someone has arranged their words into a lovely poem, the rearrangement and misappropriations begin at our house.
We massacre poetry. For fun.
I must give credit to my older brother for this rendition he wrote me as a teenager:
Roses are red, Violets are blue, Sugar is sweet, And do you like peanuts?
He also invented a new last line for this oldie:
I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one, But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than eat one.
I remember being shocked as a six or seven-year-old and then ROTFL years before ROTFL was invented when my brother came up with this one:
A birdie with a yellow bill Hopped upon my window sill Cocked his shining beak and said, "Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet." “SHUT UP, BIRD! I want to sleep.”
My little sister tried to make sense of “Clouds” by Dorothy Aldis. She didn’t know that a cook is a person who cooks for a family. So when the child in the poem hurried in to give the cook a spoonful of clouds, “I’d take them right in and give them to cook” my sister rearranged the words “I’d hurry right in and cook them up in a pan to see if they tasted as good as they look.” Rhyme obviously didn’t count.
Then as teenagers we worked together to produce classics such as the 12 Days of Christmas with 5 French Fries instead of golden rings and many other new and updated items.
I’m not sure how but as young children mine believed Jack of Jack and Jill went up the hill to catch a pail of water. And Ring Around the Roses, became Ring Around the Rosies, with the ending “Sashes, sashes, / We all fall down.”
My grandchildren don’t understand rhyme completely either. The little ditty, “See you later, alligator!” Became “See you later, crocodile!”
My children often walked around misquoting lines of poetry. While playing armies battling or as soldiers, “O Captain, My Captain,” became “O General, my General” or even “O Lieutenant, My Lieutenant!” And I know I once heard, “O Leftenant, My Leftenant!”
But my husband adamantly refuses to wax poetic. He tried one time, pointing to a beautiful stand of waving cattails reminiscent of James Whitcomb Riley and said, “Ah, look, undulating sticks.” This does not stop him from taking other people’s poetry and killing it for the sake of a pun.
Personalizing Poetry to Let it Live
My babies own their own little rhymes like “One evening when it was misty, I met Christy.” And “Fishy, fishy in the brook / Daddy caught him with a hook. / Mommy fried him in a pan. / And Johnny ate him like a man.”
Patty-Cake never uses the word “baby” at our house. We mark those little cakes with the letter of the child’s name who is listening, and if more than one child is listening, we repeat the rhyme with their letter and name, too. Even Jesus Loves You has a name substituted for the you.
I also play with names to fit a rhyme or re-written poem in order to help the little ones learn the letters to spell their names.
The Purpose Behind the Mayhem
A world without poetry would be bleak. So if you slaughter it as we do, you must have discovered it’s far better than living without it.