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Tinker

Little Willies or Ruthless Rhymes

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Explore the Craft of Writing
Light Verse

Little Willies or Ruthless Rhymes were made popular at the turn of the 19th century because of a publication by Col. D Streamer"s (Harry Graham English poet , 1874-1936) Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes. Graham took the pen name from his regiment, the Coldstream Guards. He wrote short satirical poems, one about a boy named Billy. Billy became Willie and a new form was born. The poems were recited and copied all over the English speaking world.

The elements of Little Willies are:

  1. satirical
  2. accentual, with 4 stresses per line.
  3. a tetrastich. A complete poem in 4 lines.
  4. composed with a surprise last line and a touch of sadistic humor.
  5. rhymed. Rhyme scheme aabb or abab.
  6. light verse.
  7. often composed using Little Willie and his family as the brunt of the joke.

    Willie with a thirst for gore
    nailed his sister to the door
    Mother said with humor quaint
    "Careful, Willie, don't scratch the paint."               
    -------------------- --anonymous

    The Colonel brought Willie fame,
    his contribution to the arts,
    but whenever I hear the name
    my thoughts turn to body parts.
    ------------ -- Judi Van Gorder

More Little Willies

Dead Lounge

 

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