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June 21, 2003

Lessons in Versification

DoggerelPundit piles onto Orrin Hatch with a rewrite of the George Pope Morris poem Woodman, Spare That Tree!

Woodman, Spare That Tree!
Orrin Spare That C:/
By George Pope Morris
By The DoggerelPundit

WOODMAN, spare that tree!
Orrin, spare that C:/ !
Touch not a single bough!
Touch not a single drive.
In youth it sheltered me,
Each day it works for me,
And I’ll protect it now.
And I’ll help it survive.
’T was my forefather’s hand
‘Twas our forefathers’ hands
That placed it near his cot;
That dear, our freedoms bought.
There, woodman, let it stand,
Now Orrin let them stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not.
Your folly touch them not.

There's more to each; I'm using just the first verse here, puttting them side by side because I think DP's effort incorprates several things I try to do when I rewrite lyrics/poems for my own purposes. Yes, I am anal to a level rarely seen in mortal man.

1. The rewrite scans in the same manner as the original. It's a pain to ensure that the number of syllables in each line are the same as in the original, but if they are not then the effort isn't so much a "rewrite of so and so" as it is a "Variations on a theme by so and so", and we're already destroying the original theme thanks to the rewrite. It ends up being a variation on a theme in the same manner that the the movie Starship Troopers was a variation on the book Starship Troopers.

That's not a good thing, for the one or two of you who did not already realize this.

2. The rewrite adheres as closely as possible to the original rhyme scheme, even going so far as to retain some of the original words. In my mind, the perfect rewrite would be one that replaces one middle word in each line, yet still perverts the original meaning entirely.

3. And speaking of perverting the meaning, a rewrite should do it on as many levels as possible. The original poem is anti-technological in nature, chock full of pastoral images. The rewrite defends technology, replacing wide open rural spaces with enclosed urban ones. Both feature an appeal, but where the original pleads for a physical entity, the Doggerel Pundit's verse is for something entirely lacking in such solidity.

There's more, but I'm channeling too much English major as it is. Your turn.

Posted by Bigwig at June 21, 2003 12:35 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
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