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DFW: Viking Enthusiast*

March 12, 2010
UT Austin’s Harry Ransom center recently acquired the David Foster Wallace archive, and among the more predictable treasures was this verse gem, written when the author was six or seven.

kindergarten DFW's "Viking Poem"

Viking Poem

Vikings oh! They were so strong

though There warriors won’t live so long.

For a long time they rode the stormy seas.

Whether there was a great big storm or a little breeze

There ships were made of real strong wood

as every good ship really should.

If you were to see a viking today

It’s best you go some other way.

because they’ld kill you very well

and all your gold they’ll certainly sell.

For all these reasons stay away.

from a viking every day.

Okay, here’s the (unsurprising) thing: this is REALLY good. I somehow managed to avoid taking even one dedicated poetry class while getting–seriously–a BA in English, but I do spend all my time with six- and seven-year-olds, so I feel reasonably qualified to tell you: this is off-puttingly good. It rhymes perfectly, and with some complexity–I’ve never met a seven-year-old who would think to rhyme two words with different syllable-counts, like “today” and “way”. It’s got some nice vigorous meter and two (count ’em) kinds of (admittedly erratically employed) punctuation. Which all ignores the larger point: this shit is effing legible. It contains several images (at least one per couplet–wtf, tiny child?), and they all make sense. It’s not missing any key words and really only misspells two (“there” and “they’ld”). So yeah, this pretty much confirms something we already knew: David Foster Wallace? was one scary-smart dude.

*headline stolen from here, due to awesomeness.

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