Lipograms just because.

Lipogram day! Lipo- in this case means lacking or leaving though the spelling is the same as lipo- meaning fat. It's fascinating how the prefix in liposuction works two ways at once!

Lipograms are writings in which one more more letters of the alphabet are consciously omitted. This morning I began to recast "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" as a lipogram series. My warm up was omitting the letter B, an uncommon  letter, but significant as it begins boat and but. The B lipogram:

Row, row, row your raft
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life: it is a dream.

Leaving out W was also pretty easy as it only appears in row and down. But replaying row is a little tricky. As an ancient monosyllable, it doesn't have many monosyllabic synonyms. Using paddle destroys the meters. I fell back on a somewhat uncommon verb:

Punt, punt, punt your boat
gently on the stream...

The rest is the same.

M is also uncommon, but has a big impact here due to stream, dream and merrily:

Row, row, row your boat
gently down the creek.
Happily, happily, happily, happily.
Life is so unique.

Change boat to skiff and happily back to merrily, and you get and A lipogram. This poem is short, so it's easy enough to make lipograms from it, even omitting the most common letter, E:

Row, row, row your boat
slowly down a brook
Happily, happily, happily, happily,
I think I spy a rook!

A rook being a type of bird. I strayed a little from the theme in that version. Now for a real challenge, I'll omit the letters B, O, A and T. Single-syllable synonyms for boat are easy enough to come by, as we've seen, but the big challenge here is not being able to use the articles the, a or an, nor the easy substitute pronouns this or that. Still at least line three is untouched:

Push, push, push my skiff
in limpid, rippling rivers.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
life such fun delivers.

I want to try the opening verse of  Jabberwocky without Es.

’Twas brillig, and four slithy toobs
Did gyral and gambor in a wayl:
All mimsy sat yon borogoobs,
And all moom raths outgrail.

Kind of feels like cheating: easier than it should be and sneakily fun. So now, My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke, without the letter E.


My Papa's Waltz
The original



The bourbon in your sigh  
Could throw a boy with funk;   
I hung tight though high 
through waltzing as a drunk.

Two wildcats had our pans   
Falling from pantry hooks,
And mama wrung two hands  
And shot us dirty looks.

My hands within your fists—
I saw your nicks and scars—
Dancing with your cysts,
Colliding, I saw stars.

Your raps on my hair
put rhythm in my mind.
Our waltz took us upstairs 
to night's oblivion kind.

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