March 21st World Poetry Day

Whether you like a sonnet, haiku, limerick, ode, ballad, ode or free verse you have much to choose from. Today was created in 1999 by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Poetry does move people, sometimes even nations. It can change minds, hearts and the reasons to believe in something. It can deal with any subject, controversy or simply love. (Not that love is simple) And many poems that were relevant a hundred years ago are still relevant today.

How to celebrate – Write some poetry of your own. Discover who your favorite poet is. Learn how many poems get turned into songs.

May 12th Limerick Day

A limerick is a 5 line poem, normally humorous, where the first, second and fifth lines rhyme and the third and forth lines rhyme. It was born in Limerick, Ireland (Third largest city in Ireland) with the father being Edward Lear (!812-1888).

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Lear wrote the “Book of Nonsense” featuring his limericks in 1846, it became a hit and added another dimension to a poets world. Lear lived in Limerick, Ireland obviously finding life filled with humor, or at least professing it should be filled with humor.

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So today as you read this blog

On this site which you have now logged

Together we’ll find

A way to stimulate the mind

Of which, has so long, been a fog

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How to celebrate – Read the “Book of Nonsense”. Write your own limericks. Speak only in limerick today.

 

August 21st Poet’s Day

I am stealing this description of poetry from someone else because I have never heard a better definition. “At it’s most base description, poetry is a form of writing that uses the aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of a language, combined with simile and metaphor, to bring out meanings deeper than the mere definition of the words”(they were not quoted so I am not sure who they were).

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Poetry is meant to capture the moment in time it was written, whether that is historic, legendary, rhetoric, song, drama, or comedy. In England they called their poets ‘Bards’, of which the most famous, of course, was William Shakespeare. His poetry was turned into plays and performed before audiences both then, as well as now. His poems teach us about how people lived in his day, what they thought, and some of the history that went on around them. Living peacefully was the desire of most poets, even though they often referred to wars going on around them, their hope was for peace among all mankind. Perhaps since man has walked the face of the earth, the desire for peace has always been in the forefront. Perhaps that’s why there are a lot of poems a there certainly have been a lot of wars.

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Emotions always run stronger during the time of war, love is more cherished, and the moments of peace are so welcome. Rudyard Kipling tries to get us up close and personal to war in “GungaDin”.

There are more than 50 styles of poetry, the most common are Haiku, free verse, sonnets, and name poems. They all have been used to try and describe war and the gambit of emotions people go through while living in those times. Poets like Walt Whitman fought during the American Civil War but served as a nurse while he wrote of the horrors of war.

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Another favorite subject is all about love. Here poets try to describe something that most of us know can’t be described. Love is not about words, but nearly every poet that has ever lived has tried to explain it. Some of us know better, but I  admire their persistence. You can describe a rose because you can see it, but love is something different in everybody’s eyes. Perhaps the best poets for love are the many songwriters out there that add another layer to the meaning by describing it in song, another feeling you cannot see.

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And of course nature is a popular subject for poets, or more so, the destruction of nature. “I think that I shall never see. A poem lovely as a tree.”, by Joyce Kilmer explains it all. There is little doubt that we are destroying nature around us. Maybe someday it will only live in poems but Kilmer is correct, no poem can be as beautiful as the subject it is describing. Not that poems aren’t beautiful or useful, they are, but so often they are trying to teach us about emotions that they can never quite reach the same end.

Then there are the tales of the bizarre, as in Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Raven”. You sort of have to wonder what he was on when he wrote his poems. They are exciting, but very, very dark.

Some of the best poets of all time are listed here, along with those I’ve already mentioned. Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Blake, Elzabeth Barrett Browning, Maya Angelou, Williams Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robert Burns, Carl Sandberg, John Keats, Robert Browning, George Gordon Byron, Ogden Nash, OscarWilde, E.E. Cummings, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Louis Stevenson, T.S. Elliot, Henry David Thoreau, J. R.R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, and Percy Oyssae Shelly.

How to celebrate – Try writing a poem yourself, if it’s good enough, see if you can get it published. Read poems from the masters as those listed above. Come to an understanding of the different styles of poetry.

July 10th Clerihew Day

Never heard of Clerihew? Neither had I, but I knew of his work. He became a poet at 16 years of age when he developed well… the Clerihew. His name was Edmund Clerihew Bentley and as  a student he came up with a 4 line biographical, whimsical poem, sort of like a limerick. It follows an AABB pattern, with the first line always containing some famous person’s name, normally at the end of the line where the rhyme comes from. His most famous Clerihew was written in 1905 and went like this…

Sir Charles Wren

Said, “I am going to dine with some men.

If anyone calls

Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

Oh, did I mention it’s not supposed to make a lot of sense and the lines can be any length that you want. So, it’s the perfect poem to write for someone who doesn’t really understand poetry. Even I think I could write a poem or two like these.

I wonder how, or what, Clerihew’s would have written today? Especially now with the election cycle…hmmm???

How to celebrate: Write a few Clerihews yourself. Find Clerihew’s book and read it for yourself, though it might be a bit difficult to find and even harder to understand. Try to invent your own form of poetry, apparently it’s not all that hard to do!

 

 

May 12th National Limerick Day

There once was a man with a story

He hoped it would bring him great glory

So he wrote and he wrote

Until each word he could quote

Never knowing it was just an allegory

Limerick day was created to celebrate the most prolific artist, illustrator, author, and poet of his day, Edward Lear. He made the limerick popular, mainly for children, in his 1846 “Book Of Nonsense“.

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His birthday, May 12th, 1812 is cause for this celebration. Though he died in 1888, his work continues to be read, shared, and studied even today.

A limerick is a very short poem. Generally 5 lines with the first, second, and 5th lines rhyming, and the third and fourth lines rhyming. This type of rhyme is called Anapetic Trimeter.  It is supposed to be nonsense, although, if you look deeply, there is often some sort of hidden message in each of the limericks. They are generally meant to be fun though and not taken too seriously.

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Whoever created National Limerick Day did not take credit for it. Those of us who are fond of limericks though are glad they did. Below are the 5 most famous limericks to date. Some have been altered over the years, so don’t be surprised when the opening line may remind you of some not-so-famous limericks.

The first one comes from 1744:

“Hickory dickory dock.

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one,

And down he run.

Hickory dickory dock.”

This one is from 1902:

“There once was a man from Nantucket

Who kept all his cash in a bucket.

But his daughter, named Nan,

Ran away with a man,

And as for the bucket, Nantucket.”

This is one of Lear’s:

“There was an Old Man of Peru

Who watched his wife making a stew.

But once, by mistake,

In a stove she did bake

That unfortunate Man of Peru.”

This one comes from Ogden Nash:

“A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill can hold more than his beli-can.

He can take in his beak

Food enough for a week

But I’m damned if I see how the heli-can.”

And the last one comes from Zack Weiner:

“This limerick goes in reverse

Unless I’m remiss

The neat thing is this:

If you start from the bottom-most verse

This limerick’s not any worse.”

How to celebrate:  Make up a few of your own limericks. Read Lear’s “Book Of Nonsense”.  Share limericks with a child.