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Di-diddle di-diddle di-dum

June 22, 2020

One thousand, six hundred (and counting)
And seventy-six (number’s mounting).
These are limericks I’ve written
Ever since the bug’s bitten:
Obsessive — or simply astounding?

Yes, I have written 1,676 limericks for the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form. At the moment, this international project has defined and continues to define words within the Aa-Gz section of the alphabet. And it’s been going for over a decade! Lots of people join in, adding their own “valentines to words” in the English language, from all over the world. Many are from writers in English-speaking countries. Other contributors are from countries where English is not their first language, and yet they still manage to create the most witty, clever verses in English. Anyone can join in — adult or younger — the main criteria are a love of language and a basic knowledge of the form a limerick takes. We workshop each other’s work, suggesting tweaks and changes to produce the best word definition (as any dictionary should), as well as entertaining and sticking to the rhythm and rhyme rules of a limerick:

1. A limerick has five lines.
2. It contains two rhymes arranged at the ends of the lines in an A-A-B-B-A pattern.
3. The rhythm of the lines is anapestic. That is they go —
     di-DID-dle di-DID-dle di-DUM
     di-DID-dle di-DID-dle di-DUM
     di-DID-dle di-DA
     di-DID-dle di-DA
     di-DID-dle di-DID-dle di-DUM
4. The stresses in each line should land as shown in capitals above.

Unlike Edward Lear, pastmaster of the limerick, we never use the same end word or homophonic rhymes, but that’s really all there is to it. Fancy having a go?

To give you an idea, here’s one I wrote (not for the project) — ooh, that makes 1,677! — composed during Covid-19 “lockdown”:

Found on our Doorstep

copyright Celia Warren 2020

If the rainbows young kids paint and draw
Could but heal, we’d no longer endure
This disease in our midst,
Seven colours the grist
Of a powerful, magical cure.

© Celia Warren 2020

Fancy reading more of mine and others, or having a go at writing your own?
If you’re under 18, please ask your parents’ permission first.

Minibeast Safari Challenge

May 20, 2020

Do you have a garden, or live near a park? Or perhaps you have a shed or a hedge to explore? You could take part in a Minibeast Safari Challenge to see how many minibeasts you can find. Then record your findings, either on camera or by drawings.

If you want to find out more about where to look, what you might find, and more about the minibeasts around us do have a look at this video-link: the Minibeast Safari Challenge for children, produced for Birmingham City Council, also features my poem Mr Snail (towards the end of the garden safari, where children can learn about the minibeasts they find).

Do have a look – especially if you are aged 14 or under – though it’s delightful viewing for any age.

Mr Snail

Quaint and quirky, never quick,
Mother Nature’s glue stick.
Strong shell, tacky tail,
Glue the garden, Mr Snail.                      © Celia Warren

NaPoWriMo2020 – nearly there!

April 25, 2020

How have you got on writing a poem every day for the month of April? It’s not too late to give it a go at least for the last few days. I’m pleased to say I’ve not missed a single day, though I haven’t shared all my first drafts. One thing I can say about this April – a month renowned for rain showers – is that it’s provided lots of lovely sunshine. It’s been a blessing during this prolonged period of Covid-19 lockdown.

Sunbathing is frowned upon at present, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that this poem requires a …

Sad Ending Alert

Banana had spent
so long in the sun,
the poor thing had started to peel.
She hadn’t a notion
on how to use lotion,
and began to feel slightly unreal.

Though her deckchair supported
the skin she’d aborted,
Banana still felt very bare
as, after some hours,
the birds and the flowers
and bees were beginning to stare.

Now, I have to admit,
she made a fine split,
filled with ice-cream and sweet vermicelli.
And as for her skin,
it’s chopped up in the bin,
making compost while I watch the telly.

© Celia Warren 2020

Please note this poem, photograph and all content are copyright Celia Warren 2020. Please request permission before reproducing anything from this site for commercial purposes. Thank you.

NaPoWriMo2020 – Week Two

April 8, 2020

We’re now into the second week of National Poetry Writing Month 2020. So far, I have written a new poem every day or, at the very least, the first draft of a new poem. Have you written any? Sometimes ideas come from very ordinary, everyday things, but how far you take those ideas depends on your imagination. Here’s my poem for today. It began when I was brave (or foolish?) enough to put my hand …

        Down Our Sofa

The button off a shirt Tom grew out of last year.
A spare family cat? (Well, at least, enough fur!)
A coin called a shilling, with the head of a king.
From an old Christmas cracker: a red plastic ring.

Shedloads of glitter and biscuit crumbs, too.
A brush that’s still sticky and pasty with glue.
Granddad’s old pen that he lost years ago.
A brittle brown crocus bulb, starting to grow.

An envelope, empty and folded in half.
From Abigail’s farm-set: a black-and-white calf.
A soft, dusty crisp and two brown rubber bands.
A bottle of lotion to soften Mum’s hands.

A tiny pink dinosaur half in its egg.
A hairy tarantula minus one leg.
The horn of a unicorn, shiny and gold.
Some words from a story that’s never been told.

A wish that was granted, but then left to die.
The happiness held in the glint of an eye.
Part of a dream that someone forgot.
With my hand down our sofa, I’ve found such a lot.

© Celia Warren 2020

Did you notice how the things I pulled out from down the sides and back of our sofa became more and more crazy, imaginative and surreal? If you’re stuck for ideas for a poem, try putting your hand down your sofa and see what you find. Or look inside a drawer, a cupboard or a shed, real or imaginary. See where your ideas take you. Write a poem. Perhaps you might make it rhyme. There’s still lots of April left if you want to join in the daily poetry writing challenge. Good luck!

Please note that all the content of this and all posts on this website is copyright. Please do not reproduce any poem, text or illustration without permission from the author. Thank you.

National Poetry Writing Month 2020

April 1, 2020

April has been chosen as National Poetry Writing Month in the UK, the US and Canada, and encourages people to write a poem a day throughout the month. I’ve made a modest start with a haiku, inspired by a walk along our nearby section of the Devon coastal path. (I am very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world, during this time of crisis, when we are staying at home, except for essential shopping and daily exercise.) The bright yellow gorse blooms all year round, but its flowers are especially vibrant in the spring. Today some small bluebells added their first colour of the year.

First day of April —
first Devon bluebell in bud.
Birds are building nests.

© Celia Warren 2020

Meanwhile, delighted to see an old favourite, Cake-o-Saurus being beautifully perfomed on video, shared by English Hubs – Ruth Miskin – Training Centre. Click here to watch and listen to Elly reciting my poem.

Why not have a go at writing a poem each day of this month? To start you off, pick a favourite flower, food or game — write about how it makes you feel.

Keep Safe, Keep Well!

March 12, 2020

As I write I’m getting over a heavy cold and cough – but that is all it is – what’s commonly known as A Stinking Cold. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s almost to be expected at this time of year. What nobody expected was the sudden onslaught of a worldwide epidemic of a new coronavirus. It is worrying as, although it can be dangerous to older people, some younger people, and children, may carry the disease without showing any symptoms. This is why it is sensible to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face (as germs can enter your body through your mouth, nose or eyes). So it is wise to take precautions. It will help protect you and also avoid infecting others.

The situation called for some ditties, so here they are, fresh off the keyboard.

This is the Way

When you wash your hands,
Remind your dads and mums:
Backs of hands and palms,
And don’t forget your thumbs.

© Celia Warren 2020

… but just in case people you meet aren’t as careful over washing their hands …

As Covid-19 strikes all lands,
For a while the whole world understands
To bump elbows, salute,
Maybe bow (that looks cute!);
We’re advised it’s not wise to shake hands.

© Celia Warren 2020

(Maybe no hugs and kisses either – except with family, pets and teddy bears!)

If you have a dry cough (one that hacks away but produces nothing), or feel feverish with a temperature, or are short of breath, stay at home.

Merry Christmas, poetry lovers!

December 18, 2019

What will Father Christmas bring?

A puzzle of jigsaws in rattly boxes,
A cuddle of bedsocks as furry as foxes,
A glitter of necklaces, bracelets and rings,
A skitter of games till your console grows wings?

A gobble of chocolates and biscuits and sweets,
A thunder of drums with electrified beats,
A rainbow of crayons — a lifetime’s supplies,
A floorshow of clothes that aren’t quite the right size?

Whatever he brings me I still find it shocking
That so little fits in my biggestmost stocking.

© Celia Warren 2019

May Christmas bring all of us peace and poetry!

The TRUTH, the WHOLE truth & NOTHING BUT …

September 16, 2019

On 3rd October it will be National Poetry Day in the UK, when this year’s theme is TRUTH. In conjunction with publishers Schofield and Sims, I am delighted to have contributed a National Poetry Day themed activity for teachers (or for children to explore by themselves). I chose a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah, with a light-hearted, humorous look at the subject of truth. Click here to view.

Here’s a differently light-hearted look at truth in my own poem, published here for the first time:

The Crocodile Trial

Crocodile sat in the criminal courtroom,
Charged with murder of an innocent youth.
He smiled at the judge. He smiled at the jury.
“I promise,” he smiled, “to tell the truth.”

Then he snapped his jaws at the judge and the jury.
They gasped in horror – he was so uncouth!
He had come to the court without a toothbrush,
Half a leg dangled from a big back tooth.

Down slammed the hammer of the judge in the courtroom.
“Guilty!” cried the jury. “Guilty!” cried the judge.
“It isn’t my fault,” said Crocodile, crying,
“I did try flossing but it just won’t budge!”

The judge explained, “You are guilty of murder;
Guilty of gobbling an innocent youth.”
“Oh, yes, that’s true,” said Crocodile, smiling,
“That is how the leg got stuck in my tooth.”

“As long as you know,” added Crocodile, blushing,
“As long as you realise,” he went quite red,
“…that I always clean my teeth, I was brought up properly;
I always clean my teeth before I go to bed!”

© Celia Warren 2019

Truth might seem to be a very simple theme – either something is true or it isn’t. But life isn’t as black and white as that. If a dozen people witness an event and afterwards recount what they truthfully believe they heard and saw, their accounts will differ. It is human nature. It is something courts of law have to take into account when listening to witnesses to crimes or offences, and why they demand that people on trial, and witnesses, tell the TRUTH, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING BUT the truth.

Sometimes people hold such strong beliefs that they become convinced that their beliefs are The Absolute Truth. They will rationalise their beliefs by being selective in ‘facts’ they use to justify their viewpoint – maybe without even realising they are doing so. Some might feel small lies along the way justify what they believe to be a larger truth at the end of the path. Others may tell ‘white lies’ to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings. There are many occasions when telling the truth – which sounds simple and straight-forward – becomes a grey area.

Below I am sharing some new poems of my own, written in a more serious voice, aimed at older children and grown-ups, the first recalling a memory from my childhood. I hope you enjoy reading them and that, whether you agree with them or not, they might encourage you to delve deeper into the origins of things you are told. Never accept anyone’s ‘truth’ at face value. Do not allow scaremongering to make you too afraid to ask questions. Remember, even well-informed adults can disagree over big issues. Always try and make up your own mind.

copyright Celia Warren 2019 grass

Grass Roots

In short socks, through long days,
where blades of grass were nettle-high,
we’d tunnel through the grass a maze
and share our secret only with the sky.
Till somewhere, in a far-off foreign land,
collared nettle-grasping fiends
saw Heaven as neglect and took in hand
our wilderness, thought up machines:
Green-gobblers they planned,
to create a children’s park:
Neat and tidy. Safe and sound.
Kill-joy careful clerks
patted backs, tightened ties,
and smugly smiled.
We watched our world destroyed by lies,
our truth was in the wild.
What price a mended seesaw
for a maze? – Where’s the sense
in chopping down a hedgerow
for a fence?

© Celia Warren 2019

The Song of the Silenced Scientist

If I am gullible,
I have no choice:
I follow the crowd.

If I am sceptical,
I have no voice:
I’m not allowed

to work in research,
to air my views,
to have my say
on the media news,

to check the facts,
share all the data.
If I try
I am deemed a hater

of people, of planet;
I’m not born again
into popular culture
of faithful men

and women, who want
to accept the blame,
and pay the piper
who stands to gain.

Galileo recanted.
Darwin survived.
Dinosaurs came
and dinosaurs died.

Our sun is a star
with a limited life.
When its time is up
what price such strife?

© Celia Warren 2019

Feel free to enjoy the poems and other content on this site, but please remember that all text and pictures are copyright. Do not reproduce them without permission. Thank you.


 

 

Little limericks

September 1, 2019

… about tiny tots:baby hand

 

 

 

I’m a granny; our daughter gave birth.
And her daughter’s the sweetest on earth.
Though she’s only days old,
Were she measured in gold,
More than thrice her own weight she’d be worth.

© Celia Warren 2019

Our little grand-daughter is actually a few weeks old now – growing lovelier every day. Although she is still too young to smile, never mind chuckle, her arrival has brought to mind another limerick that I wrote some years ago:

All gurgling and milky with slurpiness,
Baby brings up her wind in all burpiness.
Each kicking leg buckles
In time with her chuckles
As she gleefully burbles her chirpiness.

© Celia Warren 2019

There’s nothing like a new baby in the family to set the rhythm and rhyme gene in motion – so I’m particularly proud and pleased to be included in Poems Out Loud! – newly out from Ladybird books. Gorgeously illustrated by Laurie Stansfield, the book includes a CD of contributing poets reading their own poems. To mix metaphors – poetry cries out to be read out aloud, so this is the icing on the cake!

PoemsOutLoud book cover

Lunar Lines

July 20, 2019

full moon July 2019 copyright Celia Warren

Fifty years ago today two American astronauts on the Apollo 11 space mission – Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin – landed on the moon and became the first humans to walk on its dusty surface. At the same time, astronaut Michael Collins orbited the moon in the command module. What a lonely adventure that must have been as he flew solo round the ‘dark side’ of the moon (the side we never see from Earth)!

I was still at school in 1969 and well remember the excitement of watching the “small step for man … giant leap for mankind” happening live. I also remember looking up at the moon, in awe to think that, even as I gazed at it, people were standing on its surface.

This anniversary is a wonderful opportunity for poets to celebrate the beauty of our moon, and many such poems – including a couple of mine – are highlighted in Roger Stevens’ fabulous anthology featuring poets from around the world. MOONSTRUCK is published by Otter-Barry, ISBN 9781910959657.

Meanwhile, here are some moon poems and photos of my own for you to enjoy. Please remember that these are copyright and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without permission. Thank you.

 

Poor Old Phoebe* © Celia Warren 2019

Some thought her a god
and worshipped her on their knees.
Others, not so kind,
said she was made of cheese
until, in 1969,
without so much as a pretty please,
they walked all over her, even cut
pieces from her lunar gut.
Yet still she shines
in poets’ lines,
none of her romance gone
despite being trodden upon.

*Phoebe was the Ancient Roman name of the Goddess of the moon; also called Artemis in Ancient Greek legend. Often, the name Phoebe is used poetically to mean The Moon.

 

When Nobody Switched Off the Moon © Celia Warren 2019
                           1939-1945
      in fond memory of my parents

No telltale beams allowed after dark:
in wartime that was the law,
but no-one told the peaceful moon –
she knew not a whisper of war.

In the blackout, a young mother worried at home –
her husband was who-knew-where,
but they knew both looked at the self-same sky
and the moon was theirs to share.

For moonbeams shine on all the earth
at home and far abroad.
No blackout can steal the light of the moon,
of Phoebe the ancients’ god.

 
The Moon and her Mother © Celia Warren 2019
              after Aesop

“Make me a gown,” begged the moon of her mother.
“Please make me a gown,” cried she.
“It cannot be done,” the moon’s mother replied,
“for what size and shape would it be?”

“At times you’re as full and as round as the sun;
at other times, thin as a blade,
and in between you wax and wane,
so no fit gown can be made.”

 

COPYRIGHT CELIA WARREN 2019 i