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Friday, August 21, 2009
Forgive Me. It's a Limerick.

A true limerick is a single stanza, but occasionally some literary derelict tries multiple stanzas. I have done so here, with apologies to whatever literary gods there be.

I wrote my father-in-law a five-stanza poem in limerick verse yesterday, in honor of his 80th birthday. I mentioned this on Facebook, and it was suggested that I publish the poem. So here it is. I won't attempt to explain my recourse to verse, let alone to multiple stanzas of limerick; I have no training in abnormal psychology. But I will note that his birthday is also my wedding anniversary, that he owns two lovingly restored Model T's, that he spent the bulk of his career as a Boeing engineer, and that he has a credible Irish tenor voice. You're on your own for the rest. (I've changed one word from the original, because I like it better this way. You would, too, if you knew which word.)


If I've learned well to fathom the fam,
Then this dogg'rel, which writing I am,
    Should be just the right thing to
    (And better than bling to)
Salute both the day and the man.

You'd think, after four score and null,
Even conscious, he'd be rather dull.
    But he's spry and he's witty.
    He croons a nice ditty,
And his tales you to sleep may not lull.

Though all count'nances time finally scars,
And he no longer builds things for Mars,*
    His posterity's mighty --
    Robin, Russ, Randy, Heidi --
And he's younger than two of his cars!

On the day he turned sixty less one,
Which should have been carefree and fun,
    He surrendered his daughter.
    (Such distress for a pater!)
In exchange he got me, a geek son.

Harold Hancock is eighty today.
You can tell this is big by the way
    We are moved to make verse,
    Be it epic or terse.
Grateful, glad, sir, we all say thee yea!

(* The god of war, not necessarily the planet.)

If you're not altogether put off by my willingness to do almost anything for a rhyme, you're welcome to return in a few months for the Groundhog Day Limerick Contest, when you can try it yourself.

Marilyn Nielson comments (8/24/09):

This is so good it moves me to comment. Wow! I especially like the rhyme of "mighty" and "Heidi". It's probably the best birthday limerick I've ever read (and I'm nothing if not well-read). I'm sure Harold loved it!!

David Rodeback comments (8/25/09):

It was well received, thanks. Does a poet of your stature read a lot of birthday limericks?

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