Terse Verse

     I write today about a propensity I have:  to write a jingle when I would like to create a “poem.”

I consider the writing of poetry to be one of the greatest accomplishments of the civilized human mind.  And being able to read and appreciate a great poem is on another, only slightly lesser, tier of achievement.

When I, however, set out with some ambition to create a poem, it usually turns out to be a piece of “terse verse”; that is, what in the advertising and consumer industries is often called a “jingle.”   The Burma Shave roadway signs of old would be prime examples.

Here is a bit of a ditty that I composed on August 11, 2006,  at a time when health and related issues seemed paramount among our concerns:                                                                           No need to worry,                                                                             No cause to fret.                                                                               This is about as good                                                                         As it’s gonna get.

Perhaps I was in part inspired here by two great writers:  Andrew Marvell and a line from his great “To My Coy Mistress”  (“The grave’s a fine and private place,/ But none I think do there embrace”),  and My Guy, Joseph Mitchell,  who shared with Malcolm Jones a popular Southern country saying (“From the cradle to the hearse, things aren’t so bad that they can’t get worse”).

My tendency, then, to compose in short, rhyming couplets was bound to come to the fore early last Thursday morning,  when the members of the Board of the estimable and growing Cumberland County Education Foundation were assigned by Executive Director Cindy Kowal and President Margaret Larson an interesting and time-saving task.

To help in recruiting new members and donors, we were to select at least ten address labels from the large assortment in sheets on a table, affix them to Foundation envelopes, and enclose the membership form along with a personal note. Postage would be added to the entire batch before mailing.

As you might expect,  my “personal” notes degenerated into a set of three jingles,  one of which (based mostly on a whim rather than an informed choice) I penned on each form:

#  1   “If we’re not in, we cannot win!”                                           #  2   “Don’t be laggin’!  Hop on the wagon!”                                 # 3   “Avoid the cowed!  Join the crowd!”

I hide my face and break my pen over my knee in shame. . . .  Perhaps you can share some words of solace and some other examples of “terse verse.”  We all do recall, do we not, the old adage that “Misery loves company”?



14 Responses to “Terse Verse”

  1. Marshall Faircloth Says:

    Be there
    or be square.

    Save the bones
    for Henry Jones,

    ’cause Henry can’t eat
    no meat.

  2. Tammy Stephens Says:


    Well done! Thanks for bring poetry back into your blog. I write verse. I haven’t wrote for a few years, but will again one day, if things ever slow down. I won a few contest in my younger days, and now my oldest son is into it. He received second place, in the one he entered. He’s writes using analogies, with no verse.

  3. prayerwarrior_52 Says:

    I was a poet,
    but didn’t know it.
    hated to show it
    afraid I’d blow it.

    Time is right
    to bring to light.
    and see how bright
    my rhyme will delight!

  4. prayerwarrior_52 Says:

    I also do my own answering machine “jingles”

  5. Tammy Stephens Says:

    When can you come over and do mine? 😆

    Have you called Angie’s cell? Love it!

  6. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    I actually dread calling some folks that have everyone including their dog putting in their remarks before you can leave a message! The answering machine has gotten old and the same old out going message gets old fast.

  7. Marshall Faircloth Says:

    Here lies Lester Moore
    Four slugs from a 44
    No less
    No more

    (From headstone at Boot Hill cemetery, Tombstone, AZ)

  8. CICvet Says:

    I wish I were a fish
    I wish I were a bass
    So I could climb up rocks and trees
    And slide down on my hands and knees

  9. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    From the poems I’ve read in general they don’t have to rhyme and neither do they have to make a bit of sense and can be known as the most famous of them all!!

    There once was a squirel
    that fell out of a tree
    because he was stung by a bee
    now he stays in a hole
    like a mole
    bless his soul

  10. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Yass indeedy!

    I am no longer needy.

    Thanks for the varied input.


  11. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Reading the Comments once again:

    I can imagine that answering machine messages could be written in clever rhymes. And, as they say, that may be a “whole nother” subject.
    Do you out there have some examples of such messages to share? I do admit to getting tired of hearing the service provider’s canned messages. But is the clever message created by the phone’s (cell or home) user(s) or owner(s) any better?
    I would hope so!


  12. Prayerwarrior_52 Says:

    You have reached —_—1
    Sorry but I have to have a little fun.

    I know you might not have
    too much to say.
    But I would like to know
    Who has called today.

    I might be out shopping,
    Or I might be asleep
    So leave your name and number
    At the sound of the beep

  13. prayerwarrior_52 Says:

    My granddaughters laugh at me and jokingly call me the “phone rappin’ nannie”

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