Dearest creature in creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
It will keep you, Susy, busy.
Make your head with heat grow dizzy,
Tear in eye your dress you'll tear.
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard en heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain,
(Mind the latter, how it's written)
Made has not the sound of bade;
Say, said, pay, paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles,
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
From "desire"; desirable —admirable from "admire"
Lumber, plumber, bier but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,
One, anemone, balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,
Gertrude, german, wind and wind;
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth,
Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, sou
Peter, petrol, and patrol?
Billet does not end like ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet,
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,
Ricocheted and croqueting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation's O.K.;
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend, and fiend, alive, and live.
Is you r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes with Thalia;
Hugh but hug and hood but hoot,
Buoyant, minute, minute.
Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?
Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, greasy, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies but lullabies.
Of much puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You'll envelop lists, I hope,
In an linen envelope.
Would you like some more? You'll have it:
Affidavit, David, davit,
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
Does not sound like Czech but ache.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed but allowed,
People, leopard, towed but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, clover,
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,
Petal, penal and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,
Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with "shirk it" and "beyond it",
But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, goal, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the a of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert but desert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance; lieutenants
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
Cow but Cowper, some and home.
"Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker,"
Quoth he, "than liqueur or liquor,"
Making, it is sad but true,
In bravado much ado.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant.
Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic,
Gooseberry, goose, and close but close,
Paradise, rise, rose and dose.
Say inveigh, neigh but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle,
Mind! Meandering but mean,
Valentine and magazine.
And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani(-fold) like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties) but tier.
Arch, archangel, pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove.
Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn't) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.
Don't be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet —buffet;
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.
Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling,
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the z! (A gentle hint).
Now you need not pay attention,
To such words as I don't mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;
Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them: Vaughan and Strachan.
No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don't want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude, compared with proud,
Is not better than Macleod.
But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.
Argill, gill, Argyle, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you're not supposed to say:
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.
Had this invalid invalid,
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!
Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour enamoured, flighty!
Acquiesce and obsequies.
Please, don't monkey with the geyser,
Don't peel 'taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.
Pious, impious, limb, climb, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.
The th will surely trouble you
More than r, ch, or w,
May then the phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme Theresa, Thames,
Thomson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forgot 'em—
Wait! I've got it: Anthony,
Lighten, your anxiety.
The archaic word albeit
does not rhyme with eight—you see it;
With and forthwith: one has voice,
One had not; you make your choice.
Shoes, goes, does(1) . Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,
Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry, fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post and doth, moth, loth,
Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners!
Holm you know. But noes, canoes,
Puisne, truism, use, to use?
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
Put, nut, granite and unite.
Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer, does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senate but sedate.
Gaelic, arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,
Tour but our, dour, succour, four,
Gas, alas and Arkansas.
Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it,
Bona fide, alibi,
Gyrate, dowry and awry.
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, ate, whey, key, quay.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess—it's not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.
Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice but device and eyrie,
Face but preface, but grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass,
Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust and scour but scourging.
Ear but earn; and ere and wear
Do not rhyme with here, but heir.
Mind the o of off and often,
Which may be pronounced and orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;
Also: soft, lost, cloth and cross.
Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent,
Liable but Parliament.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.
A of valour, vapid, vapour.
S of news (compare newspaper).
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist.
I of antichrist and grist,
Differ, like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once but nonce, toll, doll but roll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.
Pronunciation —think of psyche!—
Is a paling, stout and spikey;
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "groats" and groats?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwhale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally: which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, sough, tough?
Hiccough has the sound of "sup"…
My advice is: Give it up.