Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Garden of April Poetry: Morris Dancers Kicking Up Their Metrical Feet

          The prompt for April 17 by the website, a site dedicated to encouraging poets to write a new poem every day in April -- National Poetry Month -- calls for writing a poem relying on neologisms.
          Here's how the site put it:
               Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates neologisms. What’s that? Well, it’s a made-up word! Your neologisms could be portmanteaus (basically, a word made from combining two existing words, like “motel” coming from “motor” and “hotel”) or they could be words invented entirely for their sound. Probably the most famous example of a poem incorporating neologisms is Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, but neologisms don’t have to be funny or used in the service of humor."

               Well, not to put too fine a point on it, "Jabberwocky" (which appears in "Through the Looking Glass") is pretty funny, and Lewis Carroll sets a pretty high standard as a model.
              The poem I'm sharing here attempts to capture some of the stylishly antic fun exhibited by the Newtown Morris Dancers, who ply their deeply traditional art of folk dance on Easter morning on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay directly after the Easter service at Emanuel Church. 
             They definitely slow down traffic. 
             The photo above gives a good idea of their costumes and suggests something of upbeat, open, yet carefully prescribed style of their art. Morris Dance dates back to a region of England from a long time ago. The dance is traditional, the costumes and music traditional, the Newtown Morris Dancers a Boston tradition, their appearance outside the church on Easter a pretty long-lasting tradition by itself, and Easter itself -- well all sorts of connections spring up there. 
               Here's my attempt to pack it all up in a poem with made-up words. 

        The Morris Dancers on Newbury Street

Twirl updown and crownaround
Your stickles brain percussion, your ankledings make sound

You have a rather handy look,
your brawn is rather shandy
You eyes flow from the babelbrook,
Do you feed them naught but candy?

You music goes a circle bend
Comes back to make a neverend
What churchkey fellow found a brew
To bottle up the likes of you?

Twupsy-doo and jarl about
Your feet choptime and rabble out
Your beaks remind me of the rout
Who tear my cherry blossoms out

Twirl updown and crownaround
Your stickles brain percussion, your ankledings make sound
No mankey man can Morrisleap and dare to wear a frown