The other day I put an e.e. cummings poem in the bookpuddle, as an example of an ideogram, a poem that is meant to be seen moreso than read aloud.
Since that time I have come across a poem that utilizes very nearly the opposite idea. It is a whimsical poem that seems to be written exclusively for the sake of the amusing sounds it makes if read aloud. The poet is May Swenson, and her poem is entitled A Nosty Fright. According to critic Harold Bloom, Swenson ranks with Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop as one of the three best women poets of the twentieth century. She passed away in 1989.
The poem, its sounds are delicious. Reading it is a real hoot!
At just the right moments, Swenson has transposed letters to create amusing sounds and wild, inventive wordplays. The result is, in my omble hupinion, shothing nort of rilharious!
A Nosty Fright
The roldengod and the soneyhuckle,
the sack eyed blusan and the wistle theed
are all tangled with the oison pivy,
the fallen nine peedles and the wumbleteed.
A mipchunk caught in a wobceb tried
to hip and skide in a dandy sune
but a stobler put up a EEP KOFF sign.
Then the unfucky lellow met a phytoon
and was sept out to swea. He difted for drays
till a hassgropper flying happened to spot
the boolish feast all debraggled and wet,
covered with snears and tot.
Loonmight shone through the winey poods
where rushmooms grew among risted twoots.
Back blats flew betreen the twees
and orned howls hounded their soots.
A kumkpin stood with tooked creeth
on the sindow will of a house
where a icked wold itch lived all alone
except for her stoombrick, a mitten and a kouse.
“Here we part,” said the hassgropper.
“Pere we hart,” mipchunk, too.
They purried away on opposite haths,
both scared of some “Bat!” or “Scoo!”
October was ending on a nosty fright
with scroans and greeches and chanking clains,
with oblins and gelfs, coaths and urses,
skinning grulls and stoodblains.
Will it ever be morning, Nofember virst,
skue bly and the sanppy hun, our friend?
With light breaves of wall by the fayside?
I sope ho, so that this oem can pend.
-- May Swenson --