Guy Wetmore Carryl

Guy Wetmore Carryl

Imagine a person who could twist words into funny shapes, tell stories that made you laugh until your belly hurt, and create poems that danced right off the page. That person was Guy Wetmore Carryl, an American poet and humorist born way back in 1873. He had a special talent for writing poems and stories that were not just fun to read but also clever and full of surprises.

Guy Wetmore Carryl

A Young Word Wizard from a Family of Storytellers

Guy grew up in New York City, where he was surrounded by books and stories from a very young age. He loved reading just as much as he loved writing, and he started crafting his own tales when he was still a kid, not much older than you. He had a knack for noticing the silly and absurd things in life, and he used his sharp wit to turn them into poems and stories.

In the Carryl household, storytelling wasn’t just a hobby; it was a way of life! Guy’s father, Charles E. Carryl, was also a talented writer. He penned whimsical stories and poems, and his love for weaving tales was like a magical spell cast over the family.

Imagine dinner times in their home, filled with stories instead of silence, and laughter bouncing off the walls. Charles not only shared his stories with the world but also with his son, Guy, planting the seeds of imagination in his young mind. It’s no surprise that Guy grew up to be a fantastic poet and humorist. Seeing his father turn words into wonderful tales showed Guy that he could do the same. Charles E. Carryl’s influence on Guy was like a torch passing from one storyteller to the next, lighting up the path for Guy’s journey into the world of poetry and humor.

College Days and Beyond

Guy’s journey into the world of words took an exciting turn when he attended Columbia University in New York. In college, his talent for writing truly shone. He became the editor of the Columbia Spectator, the university’s newspaper, and he even wrote stage plays. College wasn’t just about studying for Guy; it was a time to explore and expand his love for poetry and storytelling.

After graduating, Guy didn’t put down his pen. Instead, he stepped into the bustling world of magazines, a place where stories and poems found eager readers. He worked for prestigious publications like Harper’s Magazine and Life, where his stories reached even more people. In addition to writing for many magazines, he continued to work on his own poems and books. And we can be glad that he did!

Making Rhymes, Having Fun

Grimm Tales Made Gay by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Guy Wetmore Carryl had a special gift for making rhymes. But he didn’t write ordinary poems; oh no, he wrote poems that were like playful puzzles. He loved to take well-known fairy tales and fables and give them a twist, turning them into something new and hilariously funny. His book Grimm Tales Made Gay is a collection of these twisted fairy tales, where he reimagined stories like “Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood” in a way that had never been done before. Here’s how his version of “Little Red Riding Hood” begins:

Most worthy of praise
Were the virtuous ways
Of Little Red Riding Hood’s Ma,
And no one was ever
More cautious and clever
Than Little Red Riding Hood’s Pa.
They never misled,
For they meant what they said,
And would frequently say what they meant,
And the way she should go
They were careful to show,
And the way that they showed her, she went.

A World Where Stories Get Silly

In Carryl’s world, stories didn’t always end the way you’d expect. He thought it was much more fun to surprise his readers with endings that made them giggle. For example, in his version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” the story ends with a laugh rather than a scare. His clever rhymes and unexpected twists teach us that poetry and stories can be playgrounds for our imagination.

Mother Goose for Grown-Ups by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Even though Carryl wrote many poems for adults, including his book Mother Goose for Grown-Ups, his playful style and sense of humor are perfect for kids, too. His poems invite readers to play along with the words, to find the hidden jokes, and to see the world in a wackier, more whimsical way. Reading his poems is like going on an adventure where anything can happen, and the more you let your imagination run wild, the more fun you’ll have.

Remembering Guy Wetmore Carryl

Guy Wetmore Carryl’s life was like one of his poems: bright, brilliant, and much too short. He passed away in 1904 when he was just 31 years old, but in his short life, he created a treasure chest of poems and stories that continue to delight readers more than a hundred years later.

His work reminds us that poetry doesn’t always have to be serious or hard to understand. It can be a way to laugh at the world, to play with ideas, and to express the silliest thoughts in our heads. Carryl showed us that with a bit of imagination, words can do extraordinary things.

Why Guy’s Poems Are Still Great Today

Guy Wetmore Carryl’s poems are special because they break the rules in the best possible way. They show us that it’s okay to be silly, to think outside the box, and to turn even the most familiar stories upside down just to see what happens. His poetry encourages us to ask, “What if?” and to imagine the answers in the most colorful, creative ways.

So, the next time you pick up a book of poems, remember Guy Wetmore Carryl. Maybe try writing your own silly verse or creating a wacky ending for your favorite fairy tale. Who knows? You might discover that you have a bit of a word wizard in you, too!

Guy Wetmore Carryl’s legacy is a world where laughter and poetry meet, where kids and adults can share a smile over the same lines, and where the magic of storytelling is alive and well. His poems are like invitations to a party where everyone’s welcome, and the only rule is to have as much fun with words as you possibly can.

Kenn Nesbitt
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