Monday, October 19, 2015

Dictionary ditty.


Like everyone else, when I’m composing an opera or anthem and I need to rhyme a word (you’d be surprised how many choral cantatas require rhymes for “orange” and “slovenly”), I go to RhymeZone. It’s certainly the most popular English-language rhyming dictionary online, and it’s brutally honest when it needs to be (“Number of rhymes for slovenly: 0”). 

On the other hand, as a professional editor (yes, really) I am reliant on Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition), the gold standard in the industry. I own a copy; I have the app on my phone and my iPad. Sometimes I even rely on the Web site, and that’s where inspiration struck.

The M-W site not only lists definitions, parts of speech, pronunciation guides, and a billion ads; it also has synonyms, antonyms, and rhymes! I was very excited, because when I looked up crash course to see if it was officially hyphenated, I found rhymes for it.

That inspired me: I was determined to gather a bunch of unusual rhymes from odd words I looked up, and when I had a bunch of them, to test my mettle by turning them into a poem.

And that is what I have done. I confess to some tweaking to make it work, but at no time used any other rhyming dictionary. So allow me to present my Merriam-Webster Rhyme Poem, also known as:


"Ethel, Bill, and Old Man Joe; or: Eat, Drink, and Be Merriam-Webster"


Ethel was a lovely candy striper
Who’d seen so many patients pay the piper.
Like Old Man Joe, whose eyes were far away
She knew he’d not again be A-OK.
Joe never spoke, he never said a word,
Just silently consumed his soybean curd.
Then Doctor Bill, who thought to make a treaty
With Ethel, whom he fancied as his sweetie,
Said, “I can help Old Joe! I’ve had a crash course
In gerontology!” But Doctor Clothes Horse
(As Ethel called him) was nothing but accoutre
In medicine absolutely no sharpshooter.
His claims to help, she thought, were overtop
And nothing more than lupine agitprop.
But Doctor Bill determined to be smart
And help Old Joe, and win this Ethel’s heart.
He sought knowledge from the great and minuscule,
Consulting at the golf cart motor pool
With other doctors, the knowledge motherlode!
He bought them clubhouse chess pie a la mode.
But brilliance came alone to him, an add-in,
And stuck inside his mind like some big pushpin.
The next day he brought Joe a bowl of ice cream
He’d flavored with the products of a coal seam.
Joe hollered when he tried this booby-trap!
“This sucks!” he screamed, his voice a thunderclap.
Ethel cried, “You’ve been as silent as pine wood!”
Joe said, “’Cause up to now the food’s been good.”
Bill thought, Now Ethel’s love shall be my foison!
But she was mad because he’d fed Joe poison.

Moral: You may seem smart, all clever and cephalic,
But no one really likes a big smart aleck. 
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