Find time to rhyme for poetic justice


You're a poet,

So show it

Why play that variation on a seemingly silly theme?

Because Gov. Nikki Haley's second-term inauguration will not include a reading by South Carolina poet laureate Marjory Wentworth.

As reported by Columbia-based colleague Jeremy Borden on our front page Saturday, though Wentworth has "recited a poem at the three inaugurations" of governors since she was honored with that title in 2003, she won't be going on with the inauguration show on Wednesday. Chaney Adams, a spokeswoman for the governor, explained in an email: "While we appreciate Ms. Wentworth's long service to South Carolina, the inaugural committee told her the 96th S.C. inaugural program - which, in part, celebrates our state's rich culture - has been full for weeks, and scheduling constraints simply wouldn't allow a poem to be read."

Mount Pleasant resident Went-worth took the snub in stride, telling our reporter that Haley's organizers hadn't even read the poem she wrote in anticipation of the occasion.

But you can check out that poem, "One River, One Boat," on Page A10 of Saturday's paper and on our website.

Warning: It doesn't rhyme.

Another warning: It doesn't duck a painful S.C. legacy.

From "One River, One Boat":

"Here, where the Confederate flag still flies

beside the Statehouse, haunted by our past,

conflicted about the future; at the heart

of it, we are at war with ourselves."

Hmm. If Wentworth's 63-line poem is too long for inauguration inclusion, maybe she could cut it short by simply saying:

"The placement of that flag,

Is still a South Carolina drag"

Oh well, there's no accounting for tastes in flags, poetry, governors, Civil War sides, columnists or anything else.

Try not to get too wrapped up in the evidently eternal flag fight.

Instead, turn onto the uplifting road not taken by liberating your personal poet within.

For instance and inspiration, consider this call to wanderlust from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography":

"To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of lands remote,

To travel is to live."

Then for laughs, ponder "Enough Rope," an ode to apathy from Dorothy Parker:

"If I didn't care for fun and such,

I'd probably amount to much.

But I shall stay the way I am,

Because I do not give a damn"

Still can't get started?

Then recite these lines - and keep going with some of your own:

"I talk in rhyme,

All the time,

If I don't stop,

I'm gonna pop ..."

Still stuck in poetic neutral?

Shift into limerick gear.

All you need to ride that underrated form are three words that rhyme for the first, second and fifth lines, and two that rhyme for the third and fourth. For example, recall this nature-loving gem credited to former Nashville Tennessean editor Dixon Lanier Merritt:

"A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill will hold more than his belican,

He can take in his beak.

Enough food for a week,

But I'm damned if I see how the helican!"

More local and current flavor from a mere three-minute creative burst by, ahem, me:

"Be patient with visiting cruisers,

Don't assume they are all boorish losers,

Yes, when they drink whiskey,

They can get much too frisky,

But so can our Charleston-born boozers"

OK, so you can probably write a better limerick than that. That's the point.

Go for it.


"As you look to our capital city,

Where leaving out poetry's a pity,

Don't be too hard on Nikki,

Stop being so picky,

And come up with your own witty ditty"

Play-by-play man Paul Burmeister also sounded positively poetic early in the second half Saturday during NBC Sports Network's telecast of the second annual Medal of Honor Bowl from Johnson Hagood Stadium. As scenic views of our community enhanced the screen, he said:

"Located on Charleston Harbor and founded all the way back in 1670, Charleston is the oldest city in South Carolina. Known for its rich history, well-preserved architecture, distinguished restaurants and mannerly people, Charleston has received a large number of accolades, including America's Most Friendly City and the Most Polite and Hospitable City in America."

Then Burmeister added to analyst Anthony Herron:

"That's probably why it was so tough to find a parking place when we were out looking for one."

Gee, did the mayor hear that?

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is