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The Chaos

The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenit

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English 
pronunciation,
   I will teach you in my 
verse
   Sounds like 
corpsecorpshorse and worse.

I will keep you, Susybusy,
Make your 
head with heat grow dizzy;
   
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
   
Queer, fair seerhear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look 
new, dear, sew it!
   Just compare 
hearthear and heard,
   
Dies and dietlord and word.

Sword and swardretain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it's 
written).
   
Made has not the sound of bade,
   
Say-saidpay-paidlaid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as 
vague and ague,
   But be careful how you 
speak,
   Say: 
gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
   
Wovenovenhow and low,
   
Scriptreceiptshoepoemtoe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughterlaughter and Terpsichore,
   
Branch, ranch, measlestopsailsaisles,
   
Missilessimilesreviles.

Whollyhollysignalsigning,
Sameexamining, but mining,
   
Scholarvicar, and cigar,
   
Solarmicawar and far.

From "desire": desirableadmirable from "admire",
Lumberplumberbier, but brier,
   
Topshambroughamrenown, but known,
   
Knowledgedonelonegonenonetone,

OneanemoneBalmoral,
Kitchenlichenlaundrylaurel.
   
GertrudeGermanwind and wind,
   
Beau, kind, kindred, queuemankind,

Tortoiseturquoisechamois-leather,
Reading, Readingheathenheather.
   This phonetic labyrinth
   Gives 
mossgrossbrookbroochninthplinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce 
revered and severed,
   
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
   
Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquetwalletmalletchalet.
   
Blood and flood are not like food,
   Nor is 
mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with 
khaki.
   
Discountviscountload and broad,
   
Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crochetingcroquet?
Right! Your pronunciation's OK.
   
Roundedwoundedgrieve and sieve,
   
Friend and fiendalive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes 
Thalia.
   
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
   
Buoyantminute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: 
position and transition;
   Would it tally with my 
rhyme
   If I mentioned 
paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But
 cease, crease, grease and greasy?
   
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
   
Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with 
cautious, tortious,
   You'll 
envelop lists, I hope,
   In a linen 
envelope.

Would you like some more? You'll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
   To 
abjure, to perjureSheik
   Does not sound like 
Czech but ache.

Libertylibraryheave and heaven,
Rachellochmoustacheeleven.
   We say 
hallowed, but allowed,
   
Peopleleopardtowed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between 
moverploverDover.
   
Leechesbreecheswiseprecise,
   
Chalice, but police and lice,

Camelconstableunstable,
Principledisciplelabel.
   
Petalpenal, and canal,
   
Waitsurmiseplaitpromisepal,

SuitsuiteruinCircuitconduit
Rhyme with "shirk it" and "beyond it",
   But it is not hard to tell
   Why it's 
pallmall, but Pall Mall.

Musclemusculargaoliron,
Timberclimberbullionlion,
   
Worm and stormchaisechaoschair,
   
Senatorspectatormayor,

Ivyprivyfamousclamour
Has the a of 
drachm and hammer.
   
Pussyhussy and possess,
   
Desert, but desertaddress.

Golfwolfcountenancelieutenants
Hoist in 
lieu of flags left pennants.
   
Courier, courtier, tombbombcomb,
   
Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

"Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker",
Quoth he, "than 
liqueur or liquor",
   Making, it is sad but 
true,
   In bravado, much 
ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does 
devour with clangour.
   
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
   
Fontfrontwontwantgrand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
   
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
   
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with 
eagle.
   
MindMeandering but mean,
   
Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say 
mani-(fold) like many,
   Which is wrong. Say 
rapier, pier,
   
Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with 
herring or with stirring?
   
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
   
Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severanceRibald
Rhymes (but 
piebald doesn't) with nibbled.
   
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
   
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don't be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish 
buffetbuffet;
   
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
   Worcester, Boleyn, to 
impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
   
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
   Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don't mention,
   Sounds like 
pores, pause, pours and paws,
   Rhyming with the pronoun 
yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as 
you did,
   Funny rhymes to 
unicorn,
   Yes, you know them, 
Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don't want to speak of 
Cholmondeley.
   No. Yet 
Froude compared with proud
   Is no better than 
McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
   
Troll and trolleyrealm and ream,
   
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with 
Raleigh,
   But you're not supposed to say
   
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How 
pallid,
   How 
uncouth he, couchant, looked,
   When for 
Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
   
Episodes, antipodes,
   
Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don't monkey with the geyser,
Don't peel 'taters with my 
razor,
   Rather say in accents pure:
   
Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
   
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
   
Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than 
rch or w.
   Say then these phonetic 
gems:
   
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I 
forget 'em-
   Wait! I've got it: 
Anthony,
   Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with 
eight-you see it;
   
With and forthwith, one has voice,
   One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: 
singer, ginger, linger.
   
Realzealmauve, gauze and gauge,
   
Marriagefoliagemirageage,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
   
Dostlostpost, and dothclothloth,
   
JobJobblossombosomoath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowingbowing, banjo-tuners
   
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
   
Puisnetruismuse, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say 
actual, but victual,
   
SeatsweatchastecasteLeigheightheight,
   
Putnutgranite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyrheifer.
   
DullbullGeoffreyGeorgeatelate,
   
Hintpintsenate, but sedate.

GaelicArabicpacific,
Scienceconsciencescientific;
   
Tour, but our, dour, succourfour,
   
Gasalas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next 
omit, which differs from it
   
Bona fide, alibi
   
Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Seaideaguineaarea,
PsalmMaria, but malaria.
   
Youthsouthsoutherncleanse and clean,
   
Doctrineturpentinemarine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
   
Rally with allyyeaye,
   
EyeIayayewheykeyquay!

Say aver, but everfever,
Neitherleisureskeinreceiver.
   Never guess-it is not 
safe,
   We say 
calvesvalveshalf, but Ralf.

Starry, granarycanary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
   
Face, but preface, then grimace,
   
Phlegmphlegmaticassglassbass.

Basslargetargetgingiveverging,
Oughtoust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
   
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
   Do not rhyme with 
here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as 
orphan,
   With the sound of 
saw and sauce;
   Also 
soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, puttingPutting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with 
shutting.
   
Respite, spite, consent, resent.
   
Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
HyphenroughennephewStephen,
   
Monkeydonkeyclerk and jerk,
   
Aspgraspwaspdemesnecorkwork.

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
   
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
   
I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
   
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
   
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and 
spiky.
   Won't it make you lose your 
wits
   Writing 
groats and saying "grits"?

It's a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like 
rowlockgunwale,
   
Islington, and Isle of Wight,
   
Housewifeverdict and indict.

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying 
latherbatherfather?
   Finally, which rhymes with 
enough,
   
Thoughthroughboughcoughhoughsough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup...
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

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