I before e except after c.
Wisdom perhaps, albeit anecdotal,
Being more like a ditty, I do decree,
Weirdly handed down like an heirloom,
Splitting rules in my mind like an apartheid of rhyme,
With this i and this e and this c.
Neither you, nor any person of merit upstairs,
Nor a baboon of distinction nor me,
Nor even our neighbours or theirs in their turn,
Can say with all earnestness, please,
That such a rule with such rhyme that sticks firm in the mind,
Should really be seen as supreme.
Now at your leisure I ask,
Take a sip from your flask and let caffeine assist with your speed,
Don’t think for a minute I’m just being coy,
And don’t feel that I blame our species.
I intend not to inveigle or befuddle the mind,
But to free up the rules of our words,
‘Cause rules are for breaking said somebody once,
So put keister to chair,
Seize my words with your stare,
And hear this that I’ll say more than once:
With that e and that c and that i rhyme, I say,
Though it may be this way for at least part of one day
You can bet that the other is true,
That you’ll find foreign words,
And yet more gone astray,
Have to forfeit your conscience and question your pay,
Have to ask, what of eight? What of freight?
What of science and weight?
What should I do with all those?
Am I obstreperous, stomping my feet?
When I dance in the reign of Elizabeth’s street?
When obeisance is asked of me, I do say:
Only if earned, and in this case I neigh,
Like a horse who is hoarse from disputing so loud,
At the injustice of rules where strict fences abound.
Whether you have a deity, regal and sound,
Or you’re atheist, agnostic, tall, thin or round,
You must agree in at least this one point of fact:
That no matter how nice is a rhyme to the ears,
Unless it is right it should not reach great height,
It should not feign a single superior might,
It should not take such precedence in the mind of a child,
As they listen to wisdom deigned right for their style.
Be feisty, be zealous,
Rein in nothing of your special resolve,
To see through these beguiling befuddlements old,
Say I to myself,
But then, and I question me further,
Perhaps it’s a veiled hand of a helping sort?
That comes at me backwards to encourage the sport,
Yes, that must really be true,
Or unless it’s the English teachers’ heinous taboo?
Either way let us stand up and be known,
That we are not to be fooled by parsimonious drone.
No prescience needed, no sovereignty owned,
No seismic activity of neurons of the known.
Let us claim our own rhyme,
Here, let me see…
Unless after c it’s sometimes i before e, except when it isn’t; do we all agree?
Baron Van Humbeeck