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A Contrived Advice: A Verse With Each Word Beginning With The Letter T

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Thomas Tusser

In 1573, a poet and farmer named Thomas Tusser published a book entitled Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry. The book mainly comprised of rhyming couplets. However, in Chapter 49, he pulled out all the stops to create the following constrained writing. The chapter was aptly titled:

A brief conclusion, where you may see,
Each word in the verse to begin with a T!

The thrifty that teacheth the thriving to thrive,
Teach timely to traverse, the thing that thou ‘trive¹,
Transferring thy toiling, to timeliness taught,
This teacheth thee temp’rance to temper thy thought.
Take Trusty (to trust to) that thinkest to thee²,
That trustily thriftiness trowleth to thee.
Then temper thy travell, to tarry the tide,
This teacheth thee thriftiness, twenty times try’d.
Take thankfull thy talent, thank thankfully those,
That thriftily teacheth thy time to transpose.
Troth twice to be teached, teach twenty times ten,
This trade thou that takest, take thrift to thee then.

  1. Contrive
  2. Thrive

Tusser wrote his conclusion using 94 consecutive words which start with the letter T.

The verse has some flaws, but the effort employed in writing it is commendable.

In the 1812 edition of the book, the editor, William Mavor, remarked:

Perhaps this was the most difficult chapter, according to its length, that our author had to compose; yet he has strained alliteration to the most extravagant pitch; for when he writes trive for contrive, and for the sake of the rhyme uses thee for thrive, we cannot help pitying the miserable expedients to which he was reduced, in order to accomplish his design.

“In other respects the advice is good,” Mavor concluded.

Unfortunately, despite him constantly preaching about frugality throughout his life and his outstanding maxims on thriftiness, he wasn’t financially successful. His lack of success resulted in the following mocking epigram which first appeared in The More the Merrier (1608) by “H. P.”

Ad Tusserum

Tusser, they tell me, when thou wert alive,
Thou, teaching thrift, thyselfe couldst never thrive.
So, like the whetstone, many men are wont
To sharpen others, when themselves are blunt.

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