Anapestic tetrameter

There’s a wonderful, simple online service called The Listserve. Sign up and you receive a daily email . . . which is written by one of the 21,000+ other people who have also signed up for the service. (This also means you might get picked to write an email and have it sent to all of the group, but that’s a story for another day.)

The emails come from all across the globe — the authors often share their gratitude of being selected and hope they don’t waste this enormous opportunity (the service, after all, bills itself as an “email lottery”). More often than not, the note contains attempts at grand philosophies or suggestions on how you should live your life. Sometimes, it’s just a story, or even just rambling.

But on August 3, 2012, someone named Wesley Brown from Ardmore, PA, was the holder of the golden ticket. And his post was immediately, and forever since, my favorite. There hasn’t really been a reason to share it, though, until today — which would have been Dr. Seuss’ birthday. So here it is:

Hello there, Listservers! I hope you’ll enjoy
A message that’s based on a Seussian ploy

If you want to write poems the Seussian way
Anapestic tetrameter brooks no delay

But Seuss saw this form in its hard, rigid glory
And said ‘Hey, I can do it, and tell quite a story

‘While doing it, too, it will be my new tool
In telling kids things that they won’t learn in school’

When he came to a line that just wouldn’t quite flourish
He’d pluck up a word from thin air, and he’d nourish

That young little word, brand new to the world
And he’d place it in just the right spot, where it whirled

Where it danced and it sang like a fresh coat of paint
Over language grown solemn and tempered and quaint

The words he invented were zong, zax and zillow
And grinch, nerd and vipper, they were bofa and yekko

They told all the stories he needed to tell
And they broke through a form that would otherwise dwell

In the musty old drawers of the humorless past
He made it seem joyous, a form that would last

In the memories of every young kid who was read
From a Dr. Seuss book before going to bed

And so, if I’m going to be true to my muse
I’ll leave with a moral that you all might just use

Dr. Seuss saw a dark thing and turned it to light
If we all do the same, the world sure will be bright.

The day I received it, I wrote Wesley a thank you email. While I didn’t hear anything back, maybe a better ‘thank you’ is simply to re-post his tribute. I just think it’s perfectly done, and there’s no harm in sharing a smile. Or a literary lesson in anapestic tetrameter.

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