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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Poetry From the Past - No. 1: Hints on Pronunciation For Foreigners by Anon or George Bernard Shaw


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Periodically I'd like to feature some poetry files. So I brought you an old one that I stumbled across recently that tickled my phonemes.

Hints on Pronunciation For Foreigners

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through?
Well done! And now you wish perhaps
To learn of these familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard, and sounds like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead,
For Goodness' sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

A moth is not a moth in mother
Nor both in bother, nor broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for pear and pear,
And then there's does and rose and lose--
Just look them up; and goose and choose,

And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go and thwart and cart--
Come, come I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man Alive,
I'd Mastered it when I was five!

--George Bernard Shaw or


By necessity the poems I feature will have to be out of copyright, works of my own, or works submitted by others via the comments for inclusion on my blog. (If you want to fall into the latter category, submit your poem in a comment and I will consider it. I am open to a wide variety of forms and styles but consider these files rated about PG or less. That does not include themes, it does include words. Omit Carlin's 7 words you cannot say on television for example, omit sagas of blood and gore. But, do include a statement of release that says you have given me the right to publish your work here, in perpeturity.)

I think this poem falls into the first category. Poems from the past. It's either by that incredibly prolific author Anon who has penned so many great classics, or by George Bernard Shaw. No dates were found in either of my sources, but from the literary style, it appears to be somewhere from 80 to 120 years old. A search of a literary index of Shaw's work does not include the work so it may not be one of his works after all. If you have evidence to the contrary, please let me know immediately.

However, it's a great poem. Certainly witty and clever enough to be Shaw. So it is hard to say.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

Peter the Poet

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