Friday, October 3, 2008

Oh, Nonsense

Some relatively serious cold rain hit the Pacific Northwest today, one of those firmly stated storms that bring undeniable closure to summer and summerish Fall. Not a bad day for some nonsense-verse, in my opinion, with a wee tip of the cap to Edward Lear (pictured here, an image of Hunt's portrait of him):

Why Oh My

How will they what,
And when will they how?
Who will they why,
And can they where now?

Why are they who?
And how can they when?
When are they there,
And what will you then?

I cannot why now.
Time wheres me so fast.
Who whats, and then some.
Why, this cannot last!

Lear-like wordplay is one sensible approach to nonsense verse. Another, I think, is to play around with a genre. Rather early in my life, I began hearing ballads and other kinds of story-songs that sometimes had dialogue--two characters "in" the song, that is. Burl Ives sang some of these, I remember. In some ways, Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" riffs on that kind of song, as it asks questions and answers them; it's almost as if two kinds of people are speaking. Anyway, I decided to play around with that form.

Oh Ballad, Dear Ballad

"Oh father, dear father,
where did you go?"
"I got drunk and drove
the Ford into snow."

"Oh mother, dear mother
why do you cry?"
"'Cause I'm stuck at home
caring for you, that's why."

"Oh grannie, dear grannie
why are you so wise?"
"It's just a schtick, kiddo,
like rolling your eyes."

"Oh, God, greatest God,
do you listen to me?"
"You and six billion others,

"Oh life, dear life,
what should I expect?"
"In good years, a job.
On good days, a check."

That's quite enough of this nonsense.

Hans Ostrom Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom
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