Dream Of A Spelling-Bee

Spelling Bee.png

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Spelling Bee competitions became popular in England. Punch magazine had several prose and illustrations which referenced this fad. One of them is the following nonsense verse titled “Dream of a Spelling-Bee” which the magazine published on January 22, 1876, is worth noting:

Menageries where sleuth-hounds caracole.
Where jaguar phalanx and phlegmatic gnu
Fright ptarmigan and kestrels cheek by jowl.
With peewit and precocious cockatoo.

Gaunt seneschals, in crotchety cockades.
With seine net trawl for porpoise in lagoons;
While scullions gauge erratic escapades
Of madrepores in water-logged galloons.

Flamboyant triptychs groined with gherkins green.
In reckless fracas with coquettish bream.
Ecstatic gargoyles, with grotesque chagrin,
Garnish the gruesome nightmare of my dream!


About Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. I blog at learnfunfacts.com. You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkLaw and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com
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15 Responses to Dream Of A Spelling-Bee

  1. teacherjo says:

    I guess it would be fun to talk like this for show-off, that is, if I could remember them, ha,ha,ha.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mujtaba says:

    Quite the ordeal to finish reading.
    Also, thanks for reaching out and appreciating the work on my blog. Appreciate it.
    Cheers mate!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. K E Garland says:

    lol – this is almost as ridiculous as an actual spelling bee 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Humble Dave says:

    I know some of those words!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mr. Mel says:

    To bee or not to bee, that is the question!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I lost my sixth grade spelling bee because I used the right spelling of a word, although it was different than the spelling in the little study booklet that was given out. The word? I spelled it “preliminary” but the correct spelling, according to the booklet, was “preliminery ” (hopefully WP doesn’t change the spelling again, the first time I typed it into this comment, WP insisted on “preliminary”). My teachers got together and gave me a prize on their own because they disagreed with the decision.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As an avid reader of old books, I have seen a lot of alternate spellings like shew for show, artycle for article, and doute for doubt, but I have never seen -nary being replaced by -nery unless if it’s a misprint or due to the ignorance of the author. Even in Middle English, when say, ordinary was written as ordinarye, there wasn’t that kind of alternate spelling.

      So, that booklet was clearly wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Abigail says:

    Kudos to the narrator who remembered the details of this befuddling dream.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. rishhuu says:

    Ha Ha Ha! This seemed tougher than maths!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. masercot says:

    It’s like Jabberwocky but less comprehensible…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ellie894 says:

    Loved this! I still remember my elementary school spelling bee 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  11. ivor20 says:

    Oh Wow, I needed a dictionary all the way through…

    Liked by 4 people

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