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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.


Little Willies are:

  • satirical
  • accentual, with 4 stresses per line.
  • a tetrastich. A complete poem in 4 lines.
  • composed with a surprise last line and a touch of sadistic humor.
  • rhymed. Rhyme scheme aabb or abab.
  • light verse.
  • 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

http://www.nkuitse.com/morbid-poetry.html]Morbid Poetry

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