Friday - - Mind Games -

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.

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