A dozen years ago I visited Edinburgh and there became acquainted with the poetry of Scottish writer Muriel Spark (1918-2006) -- prior to that visit I had known Spark only as a novelist. Today -- prompted by Thanksgiving celebration with grandchildren -- I have remembered an English rhyme that my own grandmother teased me with in childhood, "Going to St Ives" and, from there, I've recalled a pair of Spark's rhymes that follow a similar pattern. I offer them below; despite strong rhyme, these are not entirely light fare--instead, they make us aware of the sad multiplication of bonds and wounds . . .
Conundrum by Muriel Spark
As I was going to Handover Fists
I met a man with seven wrists.
The seven wrists had seven hands;
The seven hands bore seven bonds;
The seven bonds hid seven wounds:
How many were going to Handover Fists?
And as I was going to Kingdom Come
I met a dog of twenty ton.
The twenty ton had twenty parts;
The twenty parts bore twenty hearts;
The twenty hearts gave twenty barks:
How many were going to Kingdom Come?
Spark's "Conundrum" is found in All the Poems of Muriel Spark (New Directions, 2004).