Friday, April 20, 2007

Most of my favorite poems tell a story - some of them use nonsense language, like "anyone lived in a pretty how town," some are bittersweet like "My Papa's Waltz," and some are fun and fanciful, like this one:

"The Duel"
by Eugene Field

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!
        The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
        Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
            (I wasn't there; I simply state
            What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)


The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
        While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
        Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
            (Now mind:   I'm only telling you
            What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)


The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
        Employing every tooth and claw
        In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
            (Don't fancy I exaggerate—
            I got my news from the Chinese plate!)


Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
        But the truth about the cat and pup
        Is this:   they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
            (The old Dutch clock it told me so,
            And that is how I came to know.)




The first (actually, the only) poem I remember memorizing for recitation, and just about the only one I can still recite from memory is on everybody's "favorites" list, but I'm going to post it anyway - Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky."

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
        Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
        And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
        The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
        The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
        Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
        And stood awhile in thought

And as in uffish thought he stood,
        The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
        And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
        The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
        He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
        Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
        He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
        Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
        And the mome raths outgrabe.

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