This week we’ll continue to have fun with the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb. In our last instalment we noted an acrostic and a lipogram version. Now here is a variation thought up by Paul Hellweg that is a reverse of a lipogram – can you see what’s unusual about it? Meg kept the wee sheep, The sheep’s fleece resembled sleet, Then wherever Meg went The sheep went there next. He went where she heeded her texts, The precedent he neglected; The pre-teens felt deep cheer When the sheep entered there.
Yes, it’s very contrived, but as you can see Mr Hellweg managed to do it with the greatest of ‘E’s – no other vowel being used here.
But do reserve your groans for what’s up next. Here’s a loopy offering from Howard L Chace, a professor of Romance languages at Miami University who wrote poems and stories employing homophonic transformation, in which he replaces the original words with ones that sound similar, but not quite the same: Marry hatter ladle limb Itch fleas worse widest snore. An ever-wear debt Marry win Door limb worse shorter gore. High fallow dear tusk cool wand aye Thought war aghast door role Id mead door chilling lift and plea Tush eel a limb ads cool.
James Rambo was next, offering two stanzas that were anagrams of each other: A girl once kept a tiny sheep, Widely famed for whiteness; This pet would dog her every step, No certain sign of brightness. ‘Twas viewed, the pest, one day in class By impish children there; Kids laugh to see pets, goofing off, Weren’t trying — open, err!
Finally, here’s one where every line is a palindrome leading Mary, lamb and us into bizarre pastures: Mary bred a Derby ram Won some gem o’ snow Went one romp more, not new O gods, Mary, rams do go! Walks a ton, not ask law — ‘Loof drag gal, laggard fool Mar damn mad ram Loots Mary, ram, stool.