A lot are students’ thoughts I itch to sieve
English supple spelling does delight GIVE
Puny spirits feel they could never THRIVE
but the ardent hearts keep their zeal alive

Over no eyes nor heart, English pulls wool
as an open book to whom grants its PULL
Rest assured it not does the fervent DULL
The questing mind, the Thomas, it will lull

The buyers are of tongues abundant born
but it does, of laziness and nerves, WARN
The faithful will acquire a spacious BARN
and wear some ease and aura: of no yarn

The spelling rules, they say, have excuses
that breed tasks: to which a native LOSES
Those that learn, ease on a bed of ROSES
to find the course which as a maze poses
While English makes one acquirer a thorp
its spelling culture dwells in a time WARP
It plays, such that it may play one a HARP
but before long, as a thorn, prick as sharp

They that cannot drift past obtain castors
knowing that the end produces MASTERS
The aloof will call all fears time WASTERS
for they live for themselves: better tasters

It cheers one that hospital shrank to hosp
but this truncation stings me like a WASP
Who ever at spelling English words GASP
do them, only through vigilant ears, grasp

A word’s spelling, its coiner might not say
English dwells not nor grows in a CHALET
New coinings are not etched on a TABLET
those are just read; not worn as a chaplet

Spellings can do pronouncing them injure
phonology, seen words might not GINGER
At our slips our heirs will point no FINGER
form and inventions for this tongue linger

Spelling, now, rests on the old phonic glut
if a thing is false, students may tell WHAT
In new sounds, it no longer appears THAT
each shift in old vowels at which lips spat
To know English spelling: to fetch a notch
Others are a torch so English may WATCH
All who realize English keep not a MATCH
they arrest the world others will not catch

From the near and remote, it fosters form
This one nature first declares it so WARM
They who on else lands are easy to FARM
for no barn or market, must harvest harm

Followers did the scorn for words throttle
A grasp of the spellings outguns WATTLE
Leading ideas with which all else BATTLE
depicts pride that breeds a cheerful rattle

“English rests great”, I tell my friend, Toby
It keeps not strongholds made of ADOBE
It lays a mouth of all nooks of the GLOBE
Who is to be told must not grip their lobe


Each stanza before here lays the last pair
with endings where letters alike loll BARE
All, today, depict what actual rhymes ARE
but will sate just eyes, times after and far

Deem at no time that spelling is not strict
the wilfulness of language is so PRICKED
English just feels productive; not WICKED
It spells and sounds randomly; lay the kid

English spelling enjoys that sublime quirk
which also sets all native minds to WORK
They know when it is left or right to FORK
that see a spelling clockwork lay a torque

English spells faithfully; its mien might lie
When it rains proof, one will discern JULY
The daily words may, thus, not spell DULY
three fourths of all words utter not newly

For myself, I should wish to own my debt
to this tongue in verse more than a DUET
I will be served a sausage that met SUET
as I lay a tongue that feeds all lips sweet

To come without humour is no good sign
for English whips all it will wine and DINE
This should grudge no horror of the CINE
English is such wear the keen see skinny
Of telling the story, rapt minds can boast
English is the language events try MOST
For its honour, a good grasp is the COST
In speaking, in playing, English is tossed

Similar letters lounged in charm, Haitian
dwelt the writings of the scribal NATION
To tell the terms, hints rose or a RATION
still spelling strangely, the end lay ashen

Spellings in fresh loci did old sounds lay
the old word so: turned to a dire BALLET
A new key had to take from the WALLET
this is what spelling then chose to call it

Monks first led the interpretation course
and recorded Old English; before NORSE
If the outcome evolved better or WORSE
these monks never did arouse any curse

They added new letters, to meet the rest
to roll in sounds not in the Latin BREAST
They made all runic letters turn a FEAST
for the blends and diacritics they pieced

In the morn of learning, a few were good
Writing own accent did any who WOULD
Own likings also did the spelling MOULD
To fit else words, left was spelling of old

The script medieval scribes rated: warm
led some letters to represent one FORM
Salt was coveted to spray on the WORM
— a ruling that not kept the spelling firm

Flaws of the old alphabet were dead fun
but English believed it and the new: ONE
Many letters enjoyed more than a TONE
myriad sounds: by untold letters, shown

Away from the Midlands, citizens strode
for the plague evaded the hut and ROAD
All: to the southeast; of dialects: BROAD
England filled of accents to lose or laud

That migration brought dialects to clash
but the Londoners held a lingual CACHE
To set their accent apart, they did ACHE
so, varied their vowel rules for that sake
When carrying the court to London rose
of her rebirth, English lay in the THROES
Now, for the marvels English ever DOES
Oxford-Cambridge as one, did only buzz

As Oxbridge came the loci of the school
England sat, calling no linguistic GHOUL
The sky, for English, did ever grow FOUL
as London accents rose; others, to howl

Thus, has English dwelled for any Briton
It is its docile heart that wooed BRITAIN
English lays void behind eyes to RETAIN
Do we not allow them cry that we cane?

In the chronicles certain scholars made,
diction in French orthography they LAID
This thus beautifies English, many SAID
but it delivered all-new sounds, and fled

Rising cachet: every French accent bore
for whom knew no lexicon in a DRAWER
The British patricians turned a GNAWER
and broke a word that shook every foyer

Bibliophiles made for the English rhyme
but hypercorrection had made to CLIMB
This was inventing vowels with no LIMB
to walk the phonation: in a French hymn

Awry corrections to lay less French: tore
of a broad idea of France and their WAR
The French had held spelling overly FAR
from the Anglo-Saxons, to where we are

Invaders had attempts: lasting and brief
to fit their grammar on the English LEAF
To English, they felt not eyeless or DEAF
but cooked spellings: ill-suited to a chef

To verbalize spelling, some came merry
the rest spelt sounds the lexis did BURY
The difference did ignite heat and FURY
such that every second dropped a curie
Words fled to English from alien shores
To the translators: spelling all is YOURS
The load on the writers in a few HOURS
rose more than it often did, past towers

Printers and publishers arrived to haunt
they led a fix, or spelt as they did WANT
Soon, the erudite did still letters GRANT
for spelling to pluck: from its Latin aunt

Who told just little or no English phrase
joined Caxton to evade spelling MORES
This laid errors that generated SCORES
Spelling knew this alongside prior wars

The first printers would not say it aloud
they earned for any line a job ALLOWED
Elongated lay words, fell or HALLOWED
past simpler wording kept a new abode

Bringing back English to thwart a gulley
first did its steadfastness grimly SULLY
Printers, amidst their wars, did it BULLY
Most: created styles that guided woolly

By many from whom English went aloft
the first English bibles gave off a WAFT
Shackles enfolded the restating CRAFT
local bibles, no translator must draught

Foul spellings bred the Bible no cordon
as reprinting Tyndale’s sat no WARDEN
For this leaf families, first, did GARDEN
the bible: no man lettered could pardon

Tyndale got expelled vilely like Stephen
arrested and burned at the stake, EVEN
Who spelt by a rule, soon did by SEVEN
to revive Tyndale veiled was this leaven

Studying word-origins made heed grow
as students arose for the spelling WOE
Extra letters, in English, did SOFT-SHOE
for the calm, in many a word, they grew

A sound may dwell like a stray or a waif
but writers held tactics they rated SAFE
To host long vowels, they tried no CAFE
a still E or paired vowels wore the sway

In two of five words silent letters mosh
The silence lie to do no esteem QUASH
A word’s story the stillness is to FLASH
and further do no understanding cache
Phonic units were by new duties grilled
Existing units: the new dwelled to GILD
Letters set to flee English, for the WILD
Idle but puny, some left not, nor smiled

Many sought tenets that fitted its state
as the oddities of spelling laid WEIGHT
Intimate spellings by pens at a HEIGHT
they failed to make adapt, amid the rite

Two books, to lull the orthography, rose
for wording laid a worry old and GROSS
The King James Bible lay not at a LOSS
Samuel Johnson’s manual made sauce

Many spelling items are not yet marred
for their inventors fitted all with GUARD
Dr Johnson best led the spelling WARD
but some of his creations never soared

Clashing ideas on spelling were in birth
as the rise of lexicons bore big WORTH
Printers put tactics and usages FORTH
of futile ideas, theirs lay past the fourth

To reveal voicing was dictionaries’ goal
their strength did pronunciation ENROL
Letters tempt the voicing of some IDOL
which holds in daily speech, rare or idle

Cutting letters to sit terms thin-waisted
scribes of the English civil war TASTED
More rhetoric on a page, they BLASTED
so, to their ploy was for plants a plastid

All excess letters they did not slaughter
the cut with the rest tainted the WATER
This news grows the new into a HATER
thus, a native speaker breathes a traitor
Spelling with a touchstone did not align
quills ran flexibly, as though the FELINE
I would call spelling in this age: CELINE
It lettered the sky still felt new and lean

Noah Webster saw the language floppy
and gave his country: his English COPY
This created changes some held ROPY
but down from this heat, I wear my topi

The thumb, as a hallux, lacks phalanges
Immediate bones allow them FLANGES
Over else words, away, English RANGES
than the authorities could hold changes

Whilst unfolding, for English, is the soul
various spellings loll on today’s SCROLL
In selling-labels, and settings they LOLL
numerous aspects account for them all

Clearness and identity, spellings freight
but more playful variants, for that, WAIT
In characters’ names, they lie in a PLAIT
On some literary tongues, they keep flat

Realization changes what comes heard
when you blot the first letter of a WORD
Words not even tied by a spelling CORD
are, at times, one pronunciation, scored

Homonyms lie, of many spellings made
Novel merging of letters has, long, LAID
The letter, I think, wears a mystic PLAID
which intrudes or escapes a phonic fad

French or Latin, English does never stay
the idea, French or Latin now rests NEE
A sound alters; the spelling we still SEE
a spelling grows; its voicing will firm be

Phonetic spelling draws not a mild goal
One does not bear it rounded in a BOWL
You not look to spell a hoot or a GROWL
or that heartfelt noise and not do it foul

English carries not every noise at heart
soulful noises and the verbalized PART
Your sounds the RP or GA will THWART
when your accent is not, of both, a sort

The regret for coming stuck on the way
makes the idle student rather grow FEY
Rather than spell: pressing many a KEY
they opt voice or icons borne on a quay

If you often are by English words ached
you hold, any spelling is not so SLAKED
As you feel no sense in a sound NAKED
you speak all languages with no fake id

For the parasites that in spellings crawl
mid the alphabet and sounds is a WALL
I shall not face the fall if English SHALL
except: shall a neighbour, mate, or e-pal

In spelling, to read as to write is starred
signs and symbols rest as its LEOTARD
They are quiet and hard like a LEOPARD
So, consistency’s eyes loll yet peppered

A spelling shift, the internet does cause
The spelling is not sure, as it once WAS
Softly, the forms, the word-manual HAS
dialects spell weirder than the new jazz

Every speller’s forms crawl like a weevil
unique tastes for changes rest not EVIL
Who cannot spell all comes not a DEVIL
bright spellers not always in gains revel

Spelling is grown by, if you can let what,
the limbs of the adopted not times CUT
So, the choice of a spelling, bluntly PUT
tells a myth; not language issues, afoot

To all spelling rules, I not always cleave
They, so, make tutors of spelling NAIVE
English will do no self-unfolding WAIVE
a boom and long life it could ever crave

Even when its future role is not straight
the internet lays ideas, new and GREAT
Abating of weird spellings is: a THREAT
its aura tends to assure hearts that fret

This evolving orb does its heft increase
varied spelling will not just be CAPRICE
At a snail’s pace and a sufficient PRICE
reforms already form the lingual gneiss

Texting, on spelling, turns a large heron
Its features you cannot regard BARREN
This abides, as words travel a WARREN
spellings look pithy but lay eyes foreign

We feel: texting fails English a new way
it streams to some ceasing like BENUE
An e-gadget stays the brightest VENUE
where big inventiveness tops the menu

Our spelling looked not new to Beowulf
It has hunted the frail sight like a WOLF
A speller has their own stick as in GOLF
I pulled from the era of Quirk, Randolph

Parched throats keen for a falling icicle
may first feel them coming by BICYCLE
English spelling transforms in a CYCLE
to seize it, borrow the wings of Michael

“English ever grows”, justly noted Gwyn
Its size and opulence bears no FAMINE
As long as English is not yours or MINE
the fate of eye rhymes is of a plain sign

Let no sound, for spelling, give a corbel
words seat letters to diversely WARBLE
Letters, not tones, ring upon a MARBLE
words lay spelling as fish bear a barbel


Writing, local dialects should not shush
many voicing types, dialect types PUSH
If dialects spell, writing will next CRUSH
some evade the H; others, their Rs hush


Words of many sounds we utter or print
although dialects do the language TINT
Of some elixir, tongues else lack a PINT
but English itches to take past the ninth.


Want to try your hand at poetry? Email me at poeticiapoems@gmail.com

Featured image credits to libellule789 on Pixabay

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Chukwuma Livinus Ndububa
Chukwuma Livinus Ndububa
4 months ago

This poetic odyssey through the labyrinth of English spelling is a linguistic marvel, where words dance to the rhythmic intricacies of language evolution. The metaphorical journey unfolds like a kaleidoscope, each stanza revealing a new facet of the intricate relationship between sound, meaning, and spelling.

The poet navigates the historical currents, tracing the footsteps of English spelling from its medieval roots to the digital age. The interplay of sounds, letters, and meanings becomes a dynamic tapestry, weaving together the influences of French, Latin, and the ever-shifting linguistic landscape.

As the poet contemplates the fluidity of spelling, they capture the essence of English as a living entity, continuously adapting and reshaping itself. The narrative pays homage to the resilience of the language, acknowledging its quirks and idiosyncrasies with a sense of both wonder and acceptance.

The evolving nature of spelling is likened to a journey, with the poet urging readers to embrace the changes, inconsistencies, and innovations that mark the course. It’s a celebration of linguistic diversity and the enduring spirit of English as it weaves through dialects and transforms over time.

Ultimately, this poem serves as a testament to the ever-changing, dynamic nature of language—a reflection on the beauty found in the intricate dance between words and their written forms.

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