One More Lipogram…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I explained in an earlier post, a lipogram is simply writing in which the author excludes one or more specific letters of the alphabet. Although lipograms can be totally original works (examples include the novels “Gadsby” by Ernest Vincent Wright and “Lost and Found” by Andy West which both omit the letter e), I am particularly fascinated by the variation where pre-existing texts are rewritten in the form. Last time, I shared my lipogram of the Robert Frost poem ” Fire and Ice”  without any i’s entitled “Flame and Frozen Water” .  This time I have attempted to revise the first section of the Edgar Allen Poe classic  poem” The Bells”  by avoiding the most frequently used letter in the English language – e  (I am still working on converting the other three). First here is the original:

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells—
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells—
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

— Edgar Allen Poe

I had an extremely difficult time finding a synonym for bells that did not include the letter e. My first inclination was to rewrite the poem as “Gongs”, but instead I settled on an instrument quite different but often utilized in modern days for the same purposes that bells served in Poe’s time:


Hark! Cars and trucks with horns —
Honking horns!
What a world of mishaps this cacophony forwarns!
How that blaring, blaring, blaring
In this humid air of day
With a blazing sun glaring
And human ill humor flaring
Into a rowdy, frantic fray;
Sustaining rhythm, rhythm, rhythm
In a sonic sort of schism
From a sad symphony of traffic that moans and mourns
With car horns, horns, horns, horns,
Horns, horns, horns —
With this tooting and that hooting of car horns!

So what do you think, folks? Was my lipogram successful in retaining the style and flavor of the original? Perhaps my humble effort inspired you to try writing one of your own? Which classic poem would you like to see recreated sans a certain letter? If you do try your hand at one, I hope you will share it with us.


10 thoughts on “One More Lipogram…

  1. Your rewriting of the poem, but without using that most ubiquitous of vowels ‘e’ was clever, funny, and oh so well done! I salute you, and hope I may achieve something at least halfway as good it I attempt something similar!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Paul,
        I held a poetry workshop today, based on the “Streetbeatina”, we used one of your poems, and your description of what the form is. There were some fine poems written and read out, and everyone present enjoyed the workshop.
        Thank you for sharing this interesting form online, where I could find it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so very much, Carolyn! It is an absolute thrill to hear this. I am so honored that you chose to create a workshop about the streetbeatina! ☺


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