Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bernanke Trilogy

There once was a man named Bernank',
Who didn’t want markets to tank.
Whenever he'd ease,
Like a golfer who tees,
He took care not to hook or to shank.

A Princetonian prof named Bernank',
Who didn't want markets to tank,
Would provide some relief
Très quantitatif
À trois, sinon quatre ou à cinq.

A Central Bank chief named Bernank',
Who doesn't want markets to tank,
Instinctively knows
How not to expose
His political left or right flank.

Over in the august (web-)pages of the Wall Street Journal's Total Return personal finance blog, columnist Jason Zweig put out the clarion call for would-be limerickers to finish these opening two lines:
There once was a man named Bernank,
Who didn’t want markets to tank….
Sounds good, and Dr. Goose humbly offers his threefold contribution above, while hoping that some of you reading this will do the same. But what's this? Mr. Zweig proceeds to "correct" his perfectly adequate opening lines, in the mistaken belief that they do not scan well.
[T]hese lines don’t quite scan; in a conventionally formed limerick, the first two lines have nine syllables, the next two have six apiece and the closing line again has nine. Our first two lines had eight syllables apiece...So let’s try it again. We’ll start the limerick off, fixing the meter so it scans correctly, and you finish it with three new lines of your own. Between now and the Fed’s next meeting on Sept. 12-13, there’s plenty of time to come up with something fun. Here goes:

There once was a man named The Bernank,
Who didn’t want the markets to tank…
(*Sigh*)... amateurs.

As readers of this blog have no doubt grown to appreciate, what distinguishes a limerick is not the number of syllables in a line, but the anapestic (or amphibrachic) meter and rhythm. If one must count something, let it be the number of beats: three, plus one silent beat, in each of the first two lines; two beats each in the third and fourth lines, and three beats again in the fifth line. For more lessons in limerick rhythm and rhyme, I refer Mr. Zweig and all interested readers to my friend Madeleine Begun Kane's "How To Write A Limerick".

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