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Iambic tetrameter by committee

August 17, 2011

Don’t let the title fool you; this is meant to be an amusing post.

A couple nights ago, we were having family games, read aloud, etc. and it was suggested that we have a round of “limericks by committee.”  In this pastime (which we may have invented) several people sit around a table, each having a piece of paper.  Everyone writes a line of a limerick, and then passes their paper to the person on the left.  After a couple of turns, the poems are finished, and are then read aloud, usually with hilarious results.  This time, however, in order to prolong the game (and there were seven of us), I suggested rhyming couplets of what is called Iambic tetrameter.

Side note: an iamb is a unit or “foot” that goes da-DUM, such as “behold.”  “Tetra,” of course means that there are four of them.

Here are two of the resultant poems:

Sir Garland

Sir Garland sat upon a log;

His cigarette made pale smog,

Until one day he smoked a pipe,

And set his line to catch some tripe.

The smoke rings circled round his head:

The tripe towards him it seemed they led

To bite his line.  He had no bait,

But he had not very long to wait:

Quite suddenly, his rod didst bend

With such a jerk, thought he, “My end!”

The fish then jumped into the air,

And Garland caught it with great flair;

Cried he, “My tasty pipe-caught fish-

For more than this could no man wish.”


There was a bonny treacle tin

There was a bonny treacle tin,

And several ants were caught therein,

Which vainly tried to climb the sides,

Whilst treacle seeped into their eyes.

They cried and sobbed to wash away

The sticky goo so they could play,

But an ant-eater had come to dine:

Their doom approached those ants so fine.

Behold! Upon a shining horse,

A lead soldier, who was called Morse

Came riding, brandishing a needle,

“I’ll save you from this awful treacle!”

The ant-eater, his tongue was quick,

But Morse excelled at sword-play tricks:

Dead fell the foe by sticky jar,

Whilst ants escaped by insect car.

The ants they crownéd Morse the king,

And festooned him with regal bling.

They had a feast of jelly jam,

And buttered peas, and salted cram:

The centerpiece was ant-eater, dead,

And silver platter bore his head.

End note: Try this game at your next party or other gathering.  All you have to do is add one line, and then you are on to the next poem.  Meanwhile, everyone else does most of the work, and by the time the piece circulates back to you, it can have taken quite a different twist.

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