Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Powers of Rhyme
By Samuel H. Jenks (1789–?)
 
PEOPLE do n’t commonly discern
The difference ’twixt POETRY and RHYME:
The former can be made to thrill and burn,
By master geniuses—and yet
No two words shall together chime.        5
E’en Prose, so called, may be po-et-
I-cal, and ring upon the ear
Harmoniously, without a grain of jingle;
While Rhyme, all sound, with oftentimes
No symptom of idea,        10
Clinking, like handfuls of new dimes,
Causes one’s very brain to tingle.
 
Some folks, new words will manufacture,
That have no sense nor meaning:—
They would denominate a crack a cracture,        15
Or, to make rhyme, call obloquy obscening!
 
The name of my French friend, Piemont,
(A name that ’s smooth enough in song,)
Has often been distorted into Pie-mont—
A hill of pies!—just to make rhyme on’t!        20
 
This brings me to the tale that I was going
To tell, of Toby Grizzle, a rough clown
Who grew up in the country—for in town
The folks are polish’d, and extremely knowing.
 
Toby had never seen great towns and cities,        25
Where houses grow together by the acre;
To die then, and see only what his Maker
Had done in lands, and woods, and cattle—
Thought Toby, “‘twere a thousand pities;
So, down to Boston, in my cart I ’ll rattle.”        30
 
So down he went,
And turn’d up at the Indian Queen;
Amazement and astonishment—
At what he saw,
And what was to be seen,        35
Hung heavily upon his under-jaw.
This made him hungry, and he bought
A yard of gingerbread to stay his yearnings,
And after various crooks and turnings
He got into the parlor, as he thought;        40
But, reader, ’t was the kitchen
So droll was everything—and so bewitching.
 
The cook, of his poetic powers was boasting;
Betwixt whom and the scullion there arose
A disputation, whether rhyme or prose        45
Most clear ideas convey’d—
 
          —Beef was there roasting
By dint of a huge jack—custom antique!
“Now,” quoth the cook, “I ’ll speak
In verse to this fat lout, and ascertain        50
Whether my rhymes be not, to all men, plain.”
 
Says he to Toby, “May I be so bold
As to inquire how many hours have roll’d
Since you into these regions stroll’d?”
Quoth Toby, casting up his eager looks        55
To where the giddy jack-wheel whirl’d—
“Odsbludikins, and snaggers! rat it, and adzooks!
Your clock goes faster than aunt Katy’s;
And I ’ll be skinn’d and darn’d, for all the world,
If I can see to tell what time o’ day ’t is.”        60
 
 
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