Nonsense and Some Sense Verse Smackdown, Round 4
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2, the Musical Intermission, Round 3A, and Round 3B)
It's always a pleasure to get to the finals, aye? =D And for me, also a relief. =)
Before I wrote the posts for the Funny Four, keeping my mind as open as possible about who might move on to the next round, I tried to find two strong poems from each of them: one for the posts I was about to write and a second in case I picked them to move on. I did this because I didn't want to declare a writer a winner just because I knew his oeuvre better. And as I learned more and more about the Funny Four, I found myself setting aside more and more poems--because there were six possible pairings, and therefore, six potential posts. It was clear that Carroll/Nash face-off would be very different from a Belloc/Richards face-off, since the contenders must complement each other in a dance as well as slug it out in a fight. And though I think I've made the right decision for the end of this smackdown, I'm still a little sad about the Ogden Nash vs. Laura E. Richards draft that will now never see the light of day.
Leave it to me to start the most exciting part of the smackdown on a bittersweet note! I think all our writers had a good run; and if I could invite them all to dinner, I'm sure there would be no hard feelings. But before I start planning the menu, we have to know which writer will take the seat of honour . . .
Lewis Carroll vs. Hilaire Belloc
For me, the quintessential Lewis Carroll poem is his Jabberwocky, which is made up of mostly nonsense words and still manages to tell an intelligible story. (For my graduate students: 2,000 words, please, comparing it to Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange.) If it's slightly more comprehensible to us today than to Carroll's fellow Victorians, that is because two of those nonsense words have entered common usage since then: if I remember correctly, they are "galumphing" and "chortle." Such was his talent with words that he totally made them up and we all still knew what they meant. In interesting contrast, Hilaire Belloc's Tarantella is not one of his typical poems. I remember being bowled over in uni, about a year after "discovering" Belloc, to learn that he had written the rolling, rhyming, rippling, rhythmic Tarentella that I had had to learn in high school. For there are no "bad children" here, the "beasts" are shunted off to the background, and it is less a jolly drinking song than a mad dancing song. It is a poem that exists for its own sake--and the love of words, sound, and scan.
And now the power to decide the winner is back in your hands! Leave a comment before next Monday telling me which writer you think should take home the victory!
Remember that the smackdown winner and the Philippine Literature Giveaway are always announced in the same post. After you vote, remember to collect your last entry from the Rafflecopter!
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PS -- If you're wondering why Carroll got to go first here, when Belloc is first alphabetically, well, it's because I was so used to Carroll going first that I wrote their face-off paragraph accordingly . . . and didn't want to change it even after I had noticed my "mistake." But mistakes are less mistakes than surprises anyway, right? =D
Image Sources: a) Lewis Carroll, b) Hilaire Belloc