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Thursday, July 29, 2021

I will never become a famous poet like Coleridge or Longfellow

Barry Evans
Barry Evans

I have often lamented my inability to write poems. This despite the fact that when we were kids, we used to say, “I’m a poet and don’t know it. My feet are Longfellow’s”.  We were a hoot back then.  Longfellow as you know wrote a bunch of poems including Hiawatha – on the shores of Gitche Gumee and so forth.

However, at this moment I wanted to address the work of another poet – Samuel Taylor Coleridge who is probably most famous for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which is a good poem even though it has some obvious misspellings.  But hey, he wrote back in the 1700’s before they had spell check.  Besides he was English and they can be weird! He also wrote a poem called Kubla Khan.  This poem came to him in a dream.  When he awoke, he immediately started writing the poem.  He was fairly well along when he was interrupted.  They say that his significant other hollered in, “Sam your peas porridge is getting cold, get in here!”

The interruption caused him to forget the rest of the poem.  He published what he had anyhow.

The reason I mention the above is that I had a similar incident happen.  A few weeks ago, The Blond in the House had a bad nightmare. She woke me up hollering and yelling. I calmed her down, but then I couldn’t go back to sleep. However, I must have because suddenly there appeared in my head the title of a poem followed by the rest of it. When I got up, I immediately went to the computer and wrote it down.  In my case, I got the whole poem which I admit was not as long as Kubla Khan. In addition, we do not eat peas porridge – hot or cold so I was not interrupted.  Now, not to keep you in suspense, the poem follows.

The Man Who Wore a Can

Once there was a man who wore a can.
Now he was a large strong man,
So, no one dared mention the can.
Until one day came by a young man
Who laughed when he saw the can.
Then he looked at the can wearing man,
And swiftly away he ran.
Let’s leave the man who wore the can,
And look for the girl with the pan.
They met one day in the Company van.
They wed in a church under the fan.
The man then opened the beans in the can,
And the girl fried them with rice in her pan.
Now they live happily with their little son, Dan.
Who just loves to play with a can!

OK, it is no Kubla Khan, but I thought it was pretty neat – at least for a dream.  It has even appeared elsewhere.  It was among some good poems so I thought no one would notice it.  A few of my friends did, including one who sent me a poem of hers.  It was a very nice poem written in pantoum format.  No, I didn’t know what that format was either.  Apparently, it is a poem written in four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth line of each stanza becomes the first and third line of the next stanza.

It gives me a headache just thinking about it.  How do you even know when to quit writing stanzas if you have to keep using your second and fourth lines?  I guess it shows that I will never become a famous poet like Coleridge or Longfellow.

Unless, perhaps The Blond has another bad dream!

Barry Evans is a columnist for Villages-News.com.

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