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Tinker

Cumulative Verse

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Tinker

Cumulative Verse is used in poem or song, it is simply creating a line and then adding units or items as the verse progresses. Each stanza builds on the stanza before.  Often used in lyrics of a songs, especially those sung by groups because it lends itself easily to memorization. It's origin dates back to ancient writing in many cultures.  The French Rondeau family of forms reflects a cumulative structure.  The Blues may be an even better example of  Cumulative Verse.

The elements of Cumulative Verse are:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of stanzas made up of at least 2 lines.
  2. composed with the L1 introducing a new unit, the next line expands on that unit by adding words. Subsequent stanzas L1 introduces a sequential unit, L2 expands on L1 plus repeats specifics listed in previous stanzas. Each stanza is built on top of the previous stanza.
  3. rhymed at the discretion of the poet however the repetition leads to rhyme naturally.
  4. stanzas can be separated by a refrain or chorus. 


Probably the most famous of Cumulative Verse is The Twelve Days of Christmas which is thought to have French roots but was published in England in 1780 as a chant without music.  Frederic Austin then published it in 1780 with music, elongating "five gold rings".   

*Treepine* On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Four calling birds, three French hens. two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens. two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens. two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me.
Seven swans a swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens. two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens. two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens. two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens. two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree."

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree."

*Santahat**Santahat**Santahat**Santahat*

A slightly different example, it seems the concept of cumulative verse applies well to Christmas songs.  Again I have no poet to attribute this to.  Note this one is written with a refrain.  

Who's got a beard that's long and white
Santa's got a beard that's long and white
Who comes around on a special night
Santa comes around on a special night
          Special Night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause.

Who wears boots and a suit of red
Santa wears boots and a suit of red
Who wears a long cap on his head
Santa wears a long cap on his head
           Cap on head, suit that's red
           Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

Who's got a big red cherry nose
Santa's got a big red cherry nose
Who laughs this way HO HO HO
Santa laughs this way HO HO HO
           HO HO HO, cherry nose
           Cap on head, suit that's red
           Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

Who very soon will come our way
Santa very soon will come our way
Eight little reindeer pull his sleigh
Santa's little reindeer pull his sleigh
           Reindeer sleigh, come our way
           HO HO HO, cherry nose
           Cap on head, suit that's red
           Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen
           Reindeer sleigh, come our way
           HO HO HO, cherry nose
           Cap on head, suit that's red
           Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

In the interest of diversity here is a traditional Jewish hymn found at Wikipedia. See the source image Happy Hanukkah
            Who Knows?

Who knows one?
I know one.
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.
Who knows two?
I know two.
Two are the tablets of the covenant;
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

Who knows three?
I know three.
Three are the Patriarchs
Two are the tablets of the covenant
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

Who knows four?
I know four.
Four the Matriarchs
Three are the Patriarchs
Two are the tablets of the covenant
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

Who knows five?
I know five.
Five are the books of the Torah
Four are the Matriarchs
Three are the Patriarchs
Two are the tablets of the covenant
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

Who knows six?
I know six.
Six are the sections of Mishnah.
Five are the books of the Torah.
Four are the Matriarchs.
Three are the Patriarchs.
Two are the tablets of the covenant.
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

Who knows seven?
I know seven.
Seven are the days of the week.
Six are the sections of the Mishnah.
Five are the books of the Torah.
Four are the Matriarchs.
Three are the Patriarchs.
Two are the tablets of the covenant.
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

...and so forth. The last verse is:

Who knows thirteen?
I know thirteen.
Thirteen are God's principles;
Twelve are the tribes of Israel;
Eleven are the stars of Joseph's dream;
Ten are the Commandments;
Nine are the months of childbirth;
Eight are the days before circumcision;
Seven are the days of the week;
Six are the sections of the Mishnah;
Five are the books of the Torah;
Four are the Matriarchs;
Three are the Patriarchs;
Two are the tablets of the covenant;
One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

 

 

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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