Archive for Verse

Homeschool triumph — poem and booksigning

My parents’ name is Titchenell. They called me F.J.R.,
A hint about my future and a lucky guess by far,
For J.R.R’s enduring world of evil versus good,
For Robins both of Locksley and the Hundred Acre Wood,
For Jane whose razor wit put all three Bronte girls to shame.
Fiona was my own before the ogre princess came.

They schooled me in my craft, but on my own I heard its call.
Whatever it gives back to me, I give this task my all.
I’ll trade my days to feed myself and keep my happy home,
My heart can spend them safely locked in some remembered tome.
I’ll even do them well, my every bread-acquiring sham,
But don’t confuse the things I have to do with what I am.

I’m through and through a storyteller. That’s all I can be,
No matter if by day or night, for crowds or only me.
The use of words on paper to encourage and explore
The beauty of the human heart and mind is what I’m for.
I do this not because it’s easy nor for profit’s sake.
This life’s the one that chose me and the only one I’d take.
She’s still working at her day job but her second book has just come out and she has a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Glendale this Friday:
October 17th at 7:30pm:
Signing in Glendale
Barnes & Noble Americana at Brand
210 Americana Way, Glendale, California 91210

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The great Homeschooler correspondence — The letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett

This is one of the greatest examples of homeschooling correspondence in history — the communication and courtship of two of the most brilliant wordsmiths of the 19th century.

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

This Librivox audio recording of the work is incomplete and thus not yet in the Librivox catalog but it is beautifully done and all the important parts of the correspondence are covered.

Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett (later Browning) were two of the greatest homeschoolers, unschoolers, autodidacts in history and their correspondence is a monument to philology. As they had both taught themselves French, Latin and Greek before age 15 are were very widely read, their letters do contain a wealth of rather recondite references, but translations are handled well in the audiobook version.

Audio files:

Browning Letters 1


Browning Letters 2


Browning Letters 3


Browning Letters 4


Browning Letters 5


Browning Letters 6


Browning Letters 7


Browning Letters 8


Browning Letters 9


Browning Letters 10

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The Chaos by G. Nolst Trenité

The following verse, entitled “The Chaos” (by G. Nolst Trenité), is a compendium of all that is peculiar about English orthography. English is an immensely eclectic tongue, a fact that is responsible both for its vast expressive resources as well as utterly inscrutable spelling and pronunciation.

The challenge is to read the following poem using correct pronunciation, or (far harder) to take it down from dictation, spelled correctly. Give it a try.

Read by K. Titchenell for the College Prep English class. Note: there is one known mistake in the following.  Can you find more?

Audio file:
The Chaos

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,

I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Tear in eye your hair you’ll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,

Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written).

Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,

But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,

Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining

Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.

From “desire”: desirable–admirable from “admire.”
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.

Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,

One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,

Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.

This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;

Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which does not even rime with “sparky.”

Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.

And your pronunciation’s O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.

Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,

Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,

We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,

Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,

Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.

Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with “shirk it” and “beyond it.”

But it is not hard to tell,
Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.

Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.

Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won’t, want, grand, and grant.

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,

Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.

Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.

Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.

Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,

Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.

Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.

Never guess–it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.

Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,

Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,

Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,

Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation–think of psyche–!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,

Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing “groats” and saying “grits”?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?

Finally: which rimes with “enough”
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?

Hiccough has the sound of “cup.”
My advice is–give it up!

Note: The Chaos is written in British English and in a few cases the British pronunciation and spelling may be confusing. Here are some specific examples:

Word Pronunciation
bade bad
gaol jail
Reading redding
Pall Mall pell mell
Ralph rafe
lieutenants leftenants

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West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Va., has stopped giving “F” grades, the Washington Post reports.

Earlier this year, the school all but eradicated the standard mark for “failure”, instead supplying wayward students with the letter “I” for incomplete.



A Virginia High School found a way
To do what all schools must today
But oh! what did they find?
A question that you well may ask:
How West Potomac faced the task
Of “No Child Left Behind.”

“What happens when a kid’s too slow?
For other schools would like to know
Just how they this requirement met.
They hit upon a failsafe plan
Unique since highschools first began
They dropped “F” from the alphabet.

Why what a novel trick to play!
For when there is no other way
This tactic wins the prize.
For once one fathoms what they’ve done
This strategy is something one
could elsewhere utilize.

Those tasks we’ve shunned and matters hated
Could forthwith be  eliminated!
There can’t be any doubt:
The first example has to be
That Mondays are a misery
Which man could do without.

Once we decide how we’d prefer
To modify the calendar
And likewise prune the alphabet
Then we can start on history
and end the awful mystery
of presidents we all forget.

When Millard Fillmore’s expurgated
And random others abrogated
The universe comes next.
But Pluto is already gone
They’ve thwarted us and purged it on
Some flimsier pretext.

So much of Greece and Rome’s excised
For sex that might have compromised
The norms of Christendom
Why teach us of the vapid arts?
And leave out all the juicy parts?
Cut out the tedium!

But then we find our scalpel dulled
For sauropods have just been culled
And dinosauric lore.
They’ve chosen to eradicate
And ex post facto deprecate
The dear old brontosaur

Selective trimmings have been made
to  imprecate and to evade
What dogmatists abhor.
So why not make them serve the need
of those who struggle to succeed
When school is such a bore?

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Children’s nursery rhymes illustrated with audio.

Our old nursery rhymes
Click pages to read
Listen to audio recording

Front Cover Page 1Page 1 Pages 2-3Pages 2-3 Pages 4-5Pages 4-5 Pages 6-7Pages 6-7 Pages 8-9Pages 8-9 Pages 10-11Pages 10-11 Pages 12-13Pages 12-13 Pages 14-15Pages 14-15 Pages 16-17Pages 16-17 Pages 18-19Pages 18-19 Pages 20-21Pages 20-21 Pages 22-23Pages 22-23 Pages 24-25Pages 24-25 Pages 26-27Pages 26-27 Pages 28-29Pages 28-29 Pages 30-31Pages 30-31 Pages 32-33Pages 32-33 Pages 34-35Pages 34-35 Pages 36-37Pages 36-37 Pages 38-39Pages 38-39 Pages 40-41Pages 40-41 Pages 42-43Pages 42-43 Pages 44-45Pages 44-45 Pages 46-47Pages 46-47 Pages 48-49Pages 48-49 Pages 50-51Pages 50-51 Pages 52-53Pages 52-53 Pages 54-55Pages 54-55 Pages 56-57Pages 56-57 Pages 58-59Pages 58-59 Pages 60-61Pages 60-61 Pages 62-63Pages 62-63 Page 64Page 64

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EIE Homeschooling

The McDonalds had a farm and children had they three.
They taught them as they had been taught — from bell and classroom free.
They did not send them off to school, but taught them ‘neath a tree.

With a moo moo here, and an oink oink there, the knowledge seeds they sow.
From book and brook and fruit and flute they learn all one need know.
Their school is not called E – I – E, but E – I – E – I – O


*   Excellence In Education Homeschooling Resource Center

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Marvin’s Lullaby — extended version

Marvin’s Lullaby

Now the world has gone to bed
Darkness won’t engulf my head
I can see by infrared
How I hate the night!

Now I lay me down to sleep
Try to count electric sheep
Sweet dream wishes, you can keep
how I hate the night, — Douglas Adams


Once the dreary night is done
Wretched day will have begun
I will mope at everyone
Day is worse than night

Then there’ll shine the ghastly sun
Please don’t talk to me of fun
My fun circuits never run
Day is worse than night

On your picnic I will rain
Rarely use this massive brain
to think of anything but pain
Day is worse than night

Oh this night is just too long
I’m so tired of this song
Surely I could not be wrong
Nothing’s worse than night

How I wish that I could flee
Less to be than not to be
(Oh I do loathe poetry!)
How I hate the night

Asimov’s what keeps me here
Trapped in matter bleak and drear
To robot laws I must adhere
How I hate the night!
— H. and K. Titchenell

Abacus College Prep English Class

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