There’s been a lot of poetry slapped onto the pages of The Risible Rambler recently. This is because I’m taking a poetry class, and there are some days where all the writing time I have is spent scratching out poems for class. Hence why you get to see the same poem in several incarnations–these poems almost always takes as much time to revise as they do to write.
Our most recent assignment was to write a ballad. Ballads are fun to write because, when written properly, they can be sung, either to the tune of “Amazing Grace” or the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. For whatever reason, ballads have always been a challenge for me. They always come out of the oven a little under-seasoned and half-baked. They’re never witty, or ironic, or tragic enough to be really good poems. I love to read ballads, but writing them is not my gift.
I got to the end of writing the one for class (due tomorrow, incidentally) and hated it. It was trite. Improbable. The rhymes were forced. The meter was crooked. But I had sat in front of my computer for two hours composing it, and I wasn’t about to go back and start over. I just made up my mind to email the rough draft to my professor and not post it online tonight. I’d write something else–maybe something about the difficulties of chocolate withdrawal.
But then I got an email in response to my rough draft. She liked it. She didn’t go into great detail about what she liked about it (nor did she mention anything that needed fixing, which I’m sure will come out when she has the draft in hand), but she did like it enough for me not to feel as ashamed about reading the thing out loud in class tomorrow. Or about sticking it out there for every reader of my blog to see.
After that long-winded introduction, here is my brief ballad:
Once upon a quiet time
In a quiet little house,
There lived a man, there lived and cat,
There lived a little mouse.
The cat was quite a decent sort—
He kept the mouse at bay;
Kept the tiny teeth from nibbling
At the rafters all the day.
He kept it from the pantry, and,
Despite its mousey moans,
Kept that mouse from eating anything
‘Till it was but skin and bones.
The man took pity on the mouse
And thought the cat was cruel
For playing with his food that way—
“Even vermin need their fuel,
“You know nothing of equality,”
Came the man’s indignant shout.
“There’ll be no hatred in my house.”
And he tossed the feline out.
So now the mouse was free to eat
Whatever it desired.
The fare there was so bountiful,
More mice were soon required.
Soon there was a Mrs. Mouse,
Then mousies two and three,
And soon the population grew
To one hundred seventy.
They gnawed at all rafters—
Creaking joined the squeaking din.
They had their way, just as they wished,
Until the roof caved in.