(Poem #1358) Someday Someone Will Bet That You Can't Name All Fifty States
California, Mississippi North and South Dakota. New York, Jersey, Mexico and Hampshire, Minnesota. Vermont, Wisconsin, Oregon, Connecticut and Maine. Hawaii, Georgia, Maryland. Virginia (West and plain). Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Illinois, Alaska. Colorado, Utah, Florida, Delaware, Nebraska. the Carolinas (North and South). Missouri, Idaho. Plus Alabama, Washington, And Indiana, O- Klahoma. Also Iowa, Arkansas, Montana, Pennsylvania, Arizona, And Louisiana. Ohio, Massachusetts, and Nevada, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. That Makes forty-nine. You win As soon as you say ____________.
It should come as no surprise that I loved this poem. "Someday, Someone..." is an unabashed piece of playful ingenuity that does for the states what Lehrer did for the Elements [Poem #490], and I loved it for the same reasons - the sheer satisfaction of seeing a hodgepodge list of names organised into a neat series of rhymes, and the pleasure of the rhymes themselves. Not to mention a vicarious thrill at the *cleverness* of it all. This is, indeed, more puzzle than poetry, a puzzle that Viorst does a brilliant job of solving. Indeed, the brilliance is twofold, for first she had to formulate the puzzle, to ask herself "would it be possible to...?". The twist at the end was wonderful too, even if it did cause me to spend a good fifteen minutes staring at the list and eliminating states in a scattershot manner (yes, I did solve it. No, I'm not going to spoil the answer :)) martin p.s. Some of you will doubtless be amused that my first thought on reading line 8 was "West Virginia and just Virginia". I apologise to everyone else :) p.p.s. If anyone knows of other poems in a similar vein, please do send them in. Links: Biography: http://www.annonline.com/interviews/980112/biography.html AAP site: [broken link] http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=62