Cartoon by Leslie Ward
Spoonerism A Spoonerism transposes the initial sounds of two words in a clause, as in one of the most famous slips of the tongue of the Rev. William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), “Young man, you’ve tasted the whole worm!” (instead of, “You’ve wasted the whole term!).*
NO CLASS AT ALL! NO LASS AT CALL!
Built with Spooner’s Own Isms.
Young man, you missed my history lecture.
Further, you’ve hissed my mystery lecture!
You’ve tasted the entire worm,
Just wasted the entire term!
Don’t tell me you were lighting a fire –
I hate having to fight a liar!
It’s like seeing a blushing crow
Or receiving a crushing blow!
It’s like insulting our dear old Queen
Or running into our queer old Dean!
I wonder if the bean is dizzy?
I’ll bet you hope the Dean is busy --
No doubt with you it’s a half-formed wish!
Now go and eat a half-wormed fish!
Go home! Leave our cozy nook
Go fry your fish, you nosy cook.
By Lewis Turco
Assignment: Write a poem in Spooner rhyme. If necessary, make up your own Spoonerisms.
*From The Book of Literary Terms: The Genres of Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction, Literary Criticism, and Scholarship, Hanover: University Press of New England (www.UPNE.com), 1999. ISBN 0874519543, cloth; ISBN 0-874519-55-1, paper. A Choice “Outstanding academic title” for 2000. A companion volume to The Book of Dialogue and The Book of Forms.