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Trying to Be a Poet: Does Dr. Seuss Count?

random-poetry-challenge--does-dr-seuss-count

The Poet

Dr. Seuss made a great impression on me as a child, and I suppose that this is true for many children and their parents, as much today as then. He was the world's greatest poet. You are smiling as you remember your own early experiences with Seuss' surreal and sublimely creative books and illustrations. You think, “yes, as a child he surely was the world's greatest poet.” But you misunderstand me. I mean he IS the world's greatest poet...period.

Now I know that all you poetry aficionados are pooh-poohing in your cappuccinos and latte's right now while reading your volumes of Dickinson, Whitman, Yeats, Plath, and Pound, and I'm sure you have a point, but they did not influence a child...ever. They never stopped a person from crying though I'm sure they've caused a few to start.

But this is not to argue who is the greatest poet or even a biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel, but rather a look at the depth of his influence on me of which I was unaware. I believe this is true of many people, for can we ever really pinpoint who and when and where persons, places, or things changed the patterns in our lives? Or changed the way we thought? Or changed the way we dream?

My awareness of Seuss' influence on my writing came about because of fellow HubPages writer Lita Sorensen's Random Poetry Challenge. I wanted to participate, but never considered myself much of a poet. In fact, I am not what you or I would call a fan of poetry. But this was a misconception I had about myself, for I loved Shakespeare—even the sonnets—and have myself written many songs, and who is Shakespeare but a poet, and what are songs but poems set to music?

random-poetry-challenge--does-dr-seuss-count

Writer's Block

I did not write a poem that first day of the challenge, or the next. Or the next. I read the poems other writers were putting out there, and that made me not write a poem too, for many of these were very good. The challenge passed, and it was only then that I finally forced myself to at least try.

It was a struggle in the beginning. A voice inside myself gave me quite enough criticism as I struggled along, and that is when the remarkable thing happened: I began to write down the criticisms too, and then responded to them, and back and forth, and realized that the poem had taken on a life of it's own. It took a structure I had never intended. And many parts were...Seussian. It was as though Dr. Seuss had been asked to write a serious poem. Of course, it may not be that good—I don't know—but it cannot be denied that it has been influenced by Dr. Seuss, as we shall see.

My intention was to write a poem that was 100 percent serious. I had been fighting the impulse to write in a glib style, but it wasn't until I fell in step with this new thing that it began to flow and come to life. It was as though Dr. Seuss' spirit had interceded on the poems behalf. All of this made me ponder other things that might have been influenced by the good doctor. And it was everywhere. In every song I have written. In every sentence I have constructed. In every joke I have told. In the way I perceive humor. In the way I walk and talk. Even if it isn't funny, even if it's so obscure you couldn't see it with a microscope, it is there. For who can know the degree and magnitude of a particular influence?

I present the poem to you now. You will see the influence, of course, you can't help it. Whether it is good or not, meh, but Dr. Seuss would like it I think, and that makes two. Not counting me.

By Foto Kamera / flickr

By Foto Kamera / flickr

By RebelBlueAngel / flickr

By RebelBlueAngel / flickr

By happening fish / flickr

By happening fish / flickr

By FreeMySoul / flickr

By FreeMySoul / flickr

By maurice flower / flickr

By maurice flower / flickr

My Sweet Castilion

This screen of mine, vacant, blinking,

taunting me, inviting, winking

me forward, to write with heart

or just, at least, to bloody start

to spill my guts upon the green,

sanguine as soldier's vented spleen.

 

Out, damn words, this ain't Macbeth,

does not determine my life or death,

but like the dam, cement a cracking,

when it spilleth forth it won't be lacking

for sheer volume shall pour out

to flood your heart or make me pout.

 

But what to say about an angel, my sweet Castilion,

who favors me, this old reptilian

leather brained, scaly heart,

who puts the horse behind the cart

who dives right in, head first it's true,

and swims with joy right in the goo of love.

 

(Whoa. What was that: That word you said,

You have rocks there in your head.

Yeah, you. That word. The one you wrote,

You're such silly, stupid goat

That one so fine, as fair as she,

Oh..She'll light your fire... in effigy!)

 

(So cut the crap, write it down,

Don't play the buffoon, cynic clown.)

Say what I feel and be sincere?

(It's what you want so put it here

and do not fear if you should gaff.)

The least I'll do is make her laugh.

 

Scroll to Continue

Ok. So here goes...

That stupid voice I'm hearing knows

that I mean every word.

 

Sweeter than sugar...(that's a laugh,

could have been written by a Giraffe,

dig deep, I'll help you start,

say rather "Sweeter than a Lover's Heart.")

That's good. I like. It sounds so chivalrous,

If a bit, perhaps...carnivorous.

 

And so:

 

Sweeter than a Lover's Heart

Lighter than an Angel's wings

(Is that lighter than birds and bugs and things?

Lord, do you have to make everything rhyme,

You take too long and I don't have time.)

All right! Shut up! Sticks and stones!

Go gnaw on thistle and gristle and bones.

 

And so:

 

Sweeter than a Lover's Heart

Lifted by your Mystery, your Laugh, your Charm,

Swept up in Angel's Air, in Spirit Arms,

Your lovely fingers run through my hair and caress my soul.

Hold me tight, suspended within the bosom of your caring love

Above the world in imagined clouds, overwhelmed in undeserving peace.

 

(Not bad, not bad, for a silly bloke,

of course "lovely fingers" made me choke,

but that's to be expected.

And "caress my soul" is 101,

but it's clear you've tried and had some fun.)

Well...thanks, I stand corrected.

 

(Do you think you'll write a poem again?

Leaves of Grass or Gunga Din?)

More like cats and hats and eggs and ham

and existentialists named Sam.

Normally I write these articles,

not so many parts but lots of particles.

 

(Hmmm. You're having trouble ending, yes?

Can't wrap it up, that's what I guess.)

No, I can, I was just thinking,

it came to me in a moment's blinking,

the writer ceases on page to write,

but the poem goes on into broad, black night.

 

Five Interesting Facts about Dr. Seuss

In 1942, Seuss was placed in charge of the Animation Division of the Armed Forces Motion Picture unit by Colonel Frank Capra. Capra had created a concept and a character named Snafu (an unofficial acronym for "Situation Normal, All [Fouled] Up"). While in this position, Seuss oversaw the production of 24 Snafu cartoon shorts with the character designed by Art Heineman and Chuck Jones.. The voice of Pvt. Snafu was performed by the immortal Mel Blanc.

While in the Armed Forces, Seuss wrote Design for Death, a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for Documentary Film.

Seuss had no children and was a recluse, spending much of his time alone in his studio.

Seuss (his mother's maiden name) is pronounced to rhyme with "voice." Not with "loose" as it is commonly pronounced.

He supposedly wrote "Green Eggs and Ham" on a bet with his publisher, Bennett Cerf, to write a book using only 50 words.

random-poetry-challenge--does-dr-seuss-count

Comments

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on December 24, 2010:

This is poetry, when a couple of lines like these work in a paraprosdokian sort of way. "Your lovely fingers run through my hair and caress my soul"... and also the following:

"Hold me tight, suspended within the bosom of your caring love".

It's charming.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on November 17, 2010:

Hey, Five One Cows. Don't know how I missed these. The Cat in the Hat doesn't surprise me, but Horton? That's different!

Doug Turner: Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!

Doug Turner Jr. on November 17, 2010:

From one Seuss fan to another, great hub. Enjoyable read.

Five One Cows from Moo Town on October 30, 2010:

I just had another trick or treater at the door dressed as horten the elephant.

Five One Cows from Moo Town on October 30, 2010:

Hey, what happened to all of the Dr. Suess fun? Today was halloween and I saw a lot of trick or treaters in cat in the hat costumes, which got me thinking about those good old green eggs and ham.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on October 14, 2010:

You are so very welcome Christoph, and it's been a lot of fun swapping Dr. Suess facts back and forth. I can't wait and hopefully you will be coming out with your 2nd Dr. Suess hub in the future. Until that time comes, Dr. Suess is the man and rules and don't forget to have a Happy Possum Day !!!!!!!

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on October 12, 2010:

Possum Lover: Thanks! It's been real!

PoethePoet: Indeed, I always wondered how Al Bundy paid for that house in the Chicago suburbs, and with two kids, and weren't Peggy and the kids always spending money? You don't suppose while Al was at work, Peg was...um...naw! YOu think?

Poethepoet from Charm City on September 27, 2010:

Man this hub sure has gotten silent. I got some good news that should put some life back into it. I got the brand spanking new full color mason fall 2010 shoe catalog today !!!! And let me tell you the options for that pair of dad's shoes in the cat in the hat comes back, are nunerous. To start off on page 14 there is #611 which is the black leather smooth-toe oxford for $84.95 or just $16.99 per month, which is not a bad bargain. Then on page 19 there is #606074 which are rich soft kidskin leather dress oxford with cap-toe for a mere $104.95 or just $15.74 per month. Then on page 22 there is #372 which is an all-leather styling for the chairman of the board for just $99.95 or $19.99 per month. And last but not least there is on page 24 #223 which is my favorite, the men's leather ultra-walker with cush-n-eez for a bargain price of just $79.95 or $15.99 per month. After page 24 then it's mostly woman's shoes which won't help us here. But Chris you have a good selection to pick from. All you have to do to get your very own catalog is call 1-800-428-2000 or write them at mason easy-pay, 1251 1st avenue, Chippewa Falls, Wi 54774. So there's all the information for you Chris since you showed some interest in the shoes, and it was my pleasure. Heck I might just give up my poems and become a shoe salesman like Al Bundy was on married with children. After all it must pay good because look at the house he and Peggy lived in Chicago. Peace man.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 20, 2010:

I'll be sure to let the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill know that you have gladly accepted their Dr. Suess diploma. My work is done here, have a Happy Possum Day !!!!!

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 20, 2010:

Hello Suessian scholars: The combined Suess knowledge of you all is encyclopedic! Thanks for the diploma, PL. I've always wanted one from Chapel Hill!

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 20, 2010:

Oh Christoph, I just thought I'd be the 1st one to tell you that you passed your final exam at UNC Chapel Hill with all 5 of your Dr. Suess facts. Your diploma will be sent off to you soon in the mail.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 20, 2010:

Also you will find in "THE FOOT BOOK" that for the most part on a single page that the words don't rhyme, but Dr. Suess made the words roll together on multiple pages into a children's poem. Dr. Suess truly is a poetic genius.

Five One Cows from Moo Town on September 19, 2010:

I have to point out that none of them were stinky feet

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 19, 2010:

Now how could I of missed that Dr. Suess fact? In the Dr. Suess book "THE FOOT BOOK" there were at least 30 different kinds of feet, and none of them were a pair of feet. In reality Dr. Suess could of went on forever with different types of feet making this the biggest book ever. However he kept it short for the children.

Poethepoet from Charm City on September 19, 2010:

Only a true poet such as Dr Suess could of made a great children's poem about someone that couldn't read. Now that was thinking!

Five One Cows from Moo Town on September 19, 2010:

I couldn't believe in the same book how that nook had a cookbook on a hook but couldn't cook cause he couldn't read. The nook is the only one I've ever seen in a Dr Suess book that could not read. Now that is irony.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 19, 2010:

Back to the Dr. Suess book "One fish two fish red fish blue fish". Poor old Ned had a lot of trouble with his bed in two different short storys. First his feet stuck out the two small holes. Then his head stuck out the big hole as he tryed to get comfortable. Then yet in another short story all the farm animals joined him in his little bed. Ned just couldn't get a break from Dr. Suess.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 18, 2010:

Another thing of interest in the Dr. Suess book " One fish two fish red fish blue fish" is that the doctor is always asking you to go ask your Dad, Mother, and Pop for their view on things. It seems that even back in 1960 Dr. Suess was trying to get parental involvement in his books. Which is still going on today 50 years later. That was probably his vision and plan all along.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 18, 2010:

In the Dr. Suess book " Oh, the thinks you can think" Saturday seem to be the main day where a lot of things happen. Peter the postman crossed the ice twice and you can think about why it is so many things go to the right. I guess Dr. Suess really liked Saturdays, maybe it's because you have more time to get things done.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 17, 2010:

PL: I never thought about the kid being the only one without a name. I wonder why?

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 17, 2010:

In both "The cat in the hat" and " The cat in the hat comes back" everyone had a name except the little boy. There was of coarse the cat in the hat, the fish, Sally, Thing one & Thing two, Dad & Mother and all of the little cats named after the letters of the alphabet. But the little boy who did a lot of the narrating remains nameless since 1957. That's a long time to go without a name and anyone knowing it. It's kind of sad.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 17, 2010:

Yes we certainly did get off the subject of this hub, don't you agree Christoph. So getting back in the spirit of this hub let me point out an interesting thing in "The cat in the hat" book by Dr. Suess. The fish seems to be the main boss of the house. It didn't matter if he was in a bowl, a pot or standing on the table, he was always in charge and barking out the orders to both the cat in the hat and the children. I always thought that was rather interesting and funny - a fish in charge of a house.

Poethepoet from Charm City on September 16, 2010:

How did good old stinky get involved with all of this? I thought we were talking about the poet Dr Suess, and that the green pants were empty.

Five One Cows from Moo Town on September 15, 2010:

I always thought it was Stinky's funk that was makin those green pants move around and that's why he'll always be in people's farts & souls.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 15, 2010:

Only Dr. Suess could think up a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them that stands in the air, rides a bicycle, rows a little boat and hangs out in a snide-field. No wonder he'll always be in everyone's heart and on their minds.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 14, 2010:

In the Dr. Suess book "Oh the thinks you can think" the question is asked - How much water can 55 elephants drink. Well there is only 34 elephants at the watering hole, so either the wrong number of elephants was asked or in Dr. Suess's wisdom there are another 21 elephants walking up on the other side of the hill out of view. Take your pick and most likely Horton is on the other side of the hill too. I talked to Dan for you and he said all you need to do is call and make an appointment. He's in the book.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 14, 2010:

PL: Yes, she looks better in that body than I do.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 13, 2010:

No that's short for Daniel and Butch. Anyway Horton the elephant was one of Dr. Suess' most caring characters, the way he took care of that lil' egg and watched over the lil' whos on that dust spect. Also glad to see Beth 100 back where she belongs.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 13, 2010:

PL: Hope that's short for Daniella and Butchetta. Otherwise, fuggedaboudit.

Poe: I do believe you are a poet! (I think Mason shoes should give you some money for that!)

Poethepoet from Charm City on September 13, 2010:

All you have to do for comfortable shoes Christoph; "Even if you are on the run. Call 1-800- Mason. And this will get er done." This hub just brings the rhyme out of everybody. Oh that's right I am a poet, well sort of.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 13, 2010:

Here's another fact, Dr. Suess has written a combined 44 different childrens books for all to enjoy. And I will talk to the nurses Dan & Butch about that up close examination you were looking for.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 13, 2010:

PL: The cowboy hat avatar was up because it was my two-year HP anniversary, and that's the avatar I started with. Then Beth100 and I switched avatars for the weekend for a joke, now I have returned to my normal avatar.

PoethePoet: Get me those shoes! I need comfort, dang it!

Poethepoet from Charm City on September 13, 2010:

Back to the price of those shoes that the cat in the hat used to wipe up that cake stain. I just got a mason shoe catalog in the mail and they have listed the exact same shoes as in the Dr Suess book. They also guarantee comfort or your money back.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 12, 2010:

No they are just interested in the facts, like why does your photograph keep changing? Here's another fact, In the Dr. Suess book "One fish two fish red fish blue fish" there are more blue fish then any other color, to include the fat one who wears a yellow hat. Go figure.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 12, 2010:

PL: Maybe the nurses would like to put ME under closer examination?

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 12, 2010:

In the Dr. Suess book "One fish two fish red fish blue fish" not all of the zeds needed to get their one hair cut everyday. Instead some of the zeds could of just thrown it back like a pony tail. Also the nurses at UNC are questioning one of your 5 facts and they are putting it under closer examination. That's how the cookie crumbles in the Carolinas.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 12, 2010:

Five One Cows: LOL! I'll just bet!

Five One Cows from Moo Town on September 12, 2010:

A stinky 2 depends on Stinky himself. you see this is a real story and you just can't make stuff like the small bang theory up.(the big bang theory was already taken.) So we'll just have to see what Stinky does in the future. After all he does hold several records in the field of bodily functions, many which can't be discussed here.

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 12, 2010:

Kimberleyslyrics: "Green Eggs & Ham > Lean Legs Like Lamb" I love it! Those leggs are making me hungry!

Possum Lover: Chapel Hill will crumble before my facts do!

Five One Cows: Well, will there be a stinky two?

Five One Cows from Moo Town on September 12, 2010:

Thanks but it would be hard to compete with your enormous Dr Suess hub, with your never ending comments. Stinky has taken me far, and It's best that I just stick with stinky and his 166 followers for now.

possum lover from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina on September 12, 2010:

The reviews on your facts are starting to trickle in from Chapel Hill, and so far so good. But there's still a long way to go.

kimberlyslyrics on September 12, 2010:

beth, first congrats on your 100 birthday, and I got a call from our prime minister but I forget his name, just needs you to check if its green eggs and ham because he seems to remember Beths lean legs like lamb

oh, who knows

hey,

you should hub something about sues s, after all, he was the first homosexual to place his bum on the moon [duh by siting] and wrote something about the cat that he brought back, safe in his helmet hat

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 11, 2010:

Poethepoet; Oh, forgot to mention. When you named Poe, you picked my other favorite poet!

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 11, 2010:

I think you should. The world waits anxiously for your next creative masterpiece! And stink can only take you so far.

Five One Cows from Moo Town on September 11, 2010:

Another story in which Dr. Suess proved that hard headedness pays off is in "The Zaxs". When neither the North or South going zax would budge just one inch either to the East or the West for 59 years, a bypass was built around them. And in their honor it was named the zax bypass. Now how likely is that going to happen in real life? Most likely you would get your tail hauled off and put in jail. Man I'm almost as good at this as you all are. Maybe I'll just get out of the stinky bussiness and start my own Dr Suess hub. What do you think?

Christoph Reilly (author) from St. Louis on September 11, 2010:

Poethepoet: Have I? Oh, well, I'm sure they're all very good. Thanks for stopping in and the comment!

Poethepoet from Charm City on September 11, 2010:

I just had to get in on these comments and as an amateur poet I worship Dr Suess. He is right up there with Edgar Allen Poe. Both poets are remarkable and highly gifted. I browsed through your related hubs and you've got a lot of tough competition out there on the hubpages when it comes to Dr Suess.