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When I first heard about Shel Silverstein, I was about 7 years old. My favorite poem in the plethora of books was "I Cannot Go To School Today." The poem is about girl who fakes being sick so she can not go to school. What is so funny about the poem is the dramatic approach she takes to then realize that she went through so much effort for nothing.

What I loved about this poem was the message and the story. I did not really realize the internal rhyming or the conversational words that he used that helped the poem so easy to follow.

The other book that I read from Shel Silverstein was "The Giving Tree"


Shel's books banned?

Believe it or not Silverstein's books were among many that were challenged as banned books.
"The book was locked away in Boulder, Colorado's Public Library in 1988 because the librarian considered the book sexist."
There are many cases where this book had been challenged. To name just a few: "at the elementary schools in the Papillion-LaVista School District in Omaha, Nebraska because the book promotes :behavior abusive to women and children, suicide as a way to manipulate parents, mockery of God, and selfish and disrespectful behavior." In West Mifflin Pennsylvania schools the book was challenged because the poem "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony is 'morbid.' "
The book was challenged in "West Allis-West Milwaukee, Wis. school libraries because the book 'suggests drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for the truth, disrespect for legitimate authority, rebellion against parents,' and because it inspires young people to commit 'acts of violence, disbelief, and disrespect.' Challenged in Bloomsburg, Pa because a poem titled, "Dreadful" talks about how 'someone at the baby.' "


Though Silverstein's book may seem as harsh to some and a bad influence, I respect Shel and his great talent. He introduced poetry to children and his book are still stacked on my bookshelf at home.



Poetry is over...

...but it's been an amazing experience.

Poetry is one of those subjects you generally wouldn't study without a particular interest in the subject. "Yeah, poetry's pretty cool I guess," some will say, while others scoff "Pfff, who actually reads poems anymore?" Even my experience with poetry was limited to Shel Silverstein and a brief poetry unit in sophomore English class. While poetry does appear to be a more obscure facet of English literature, it's by no means outdated or old-fashioned. It's just the opposite, in fact; the blog project completed for this class indicates nothing less.

The freedom given to us on this project has allowed us to explore so many different aspects of poetry, everything from Harry Potter to the Black Arts Movement to Lady Gaga. Things that I wouldn't even think to categorize as poetry have been analyzed and critiqued for their poetic devices and impact on the world. The project has shown me just how much reach the poetic word has, and how we are affected without even realizing it.

Thank you, Mrs. Lewis. It's been a fantastic class, one that always lifted my mood and brightened up my day, no matter what the situation. Thank you, other students in the class, for bonding together in the three months we spent together and bringing us closer. Thank you, Walt Whitman, for starting the American poetic movement and inadvertently giving birth to what would later be the best class ever.

Thank you all :)

A Look Back


At the end of Junior year when I was filling out my schedule, I was overjoyed that Poetry fit in my schedule. I'll be honest, I thought this class would be a breeze. Well, in my opinion, it wasn't. It made me think a lot and express my emotions, and for that I am so extremely happy I took this class.


Poetry also was the one class that I would look forward to going to everyday. No matter my mood or my stress level, poetry was always that one class that added some ease and relaxed me.
Before this class, the only background I had on poetry was Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein from my childhood and my sophomore english class. Needless to say, I have learned so many more poets and different styles of poetry. Who would have thought that some of the best poets were college drop-outs or wrote their poems on a napkin or a cell wall!

This class made me think outside the box and really made me voice my opinion. I could not be any happier that I chose to take this class. I met many wonderful people who I can now say 'Hi" to when I pass by them.

Thank you for offering this class and making it so totally awesome :)


Defying Gravity

First off, congratulations to everyone who performed in the musical Man of La Mancha this weekend. You guys were spectacular.

Now, musical performances come in all different forms. Some musicals are entirely ensemble-based, some are led by women, some have plants as the main characters. Some are live, some are filmed (oftentimes, one is adapted from the other!) No matter how it's structured, at its core, the musical is a live performance interspersed with song and dance. This post is going to focus on the differences in live and recorded musicals.

Now, as my musical theater expertise is limited to high school plays and Glee before I stopped watching it (seriously Quinn? Now you want custody?), I won't claim to know exactly what makes a good musical, so bear with me.

One obvious benefit to a filmed musical is the exclusion of errors; no matter how difficult a song or performance may be, the cast can always reshoot it in another take, until they have a satisfactory performance. This gives us the "bloopers" commonly seen at the end of comedy movies, where the failed takes are shown after the movie's been completed.
In contrast, live theater consists of practicing the play over and over again in the hopes that, when you do go on and perform, there are no errors, and if there are, the actors know their characters well enough to cover any slip-ups. This is a much more frightening way to perform, but it's also much more exciting. Take the January 9th, 2004 performance of Wicked:




The platform in "Defying Gravity" (a key element of the song) failed to rise in time. I got a heart attack just watching the video, I can't even imagine how Idina Menzel managed to cover it without an issue. Such is the risk of live theater, but it makes the end result all the more amazing.

Another common aspect of filmed musicals is cutting for time. This isn't just limited to musicals; movies as a whole have a very short amount of time to present their story, and unless you have an incredible movie (or you're James Cameron), you risk losing viewers and money if it goes on too long. In a musical film, this can often lead to shortening or removing songs, but that's not always a bad thing: the 1972 film adaptation of Man of La Mancha managed to trim an entire minute and a half off of the song "I'm Only Thinking Of Him," in a very clever way; it built on the overlapping trio present in the original song to still get the message across effectively.
This is less present in live theater; musicals can and will frequently go on for two and a half hours or more, depending on factors like production values. Still, it's still fairly rare for a full show to be performed; frequently, one of the first things a cast does is decide which parts they'll remove for time.

This is a fairly superficial thing to say, but a film has the definite advantage of looking for specific actors. A screenwriter can write a part and say "I'm feeling Emma Stone for this part" or "I wrote the role with [Alec Baldwin] in mind." Unless it's a huge, big-name theater, a live performance will often have to make due with what they have (one of the reasons why there's so frequently a shortage of males in theater). It's a small thing, but it does exist.

In the end though, the show always pulls through, whether it's live theater, live TV, or a pre-recorded film. Everything always works out for the best (and when it doesn't, the audience usually doesn't know anyway).


What is a haiku?
Why, put simply, a haiku
Is a type of poem

A specific type
With special syllable counts
Five, seven, and five.

From where came haikus?
Why, from Japan, naturally
I'll explain why now.



Japanese language
Is divided into these
Things they call kana.

kana is but
One unique syllable
That never changes.

So you see, kana
Are excellent for haiku
Not so in English.

Usually, a
Haiku'll be about nature
Trees, wind, and so forth

But, not all the time.
Here's some American ones
About tons of stuff.

Could be serious.
Although, could be humorous;
It's all up to you.

Why write in haiku?
Why restrict yourself so much?
What use does it have?

A haiku is short
Sweet, and to the point. No need
For complex words here.

Perhaps that's just why.
A haiku contains so much
Packed in so little.

The author will count
And compare, and consider
All of his options

Until at last, light!
The perfect combination!
Of word, and image.

And thus, the haiku.
Noble form of poetry
Marches on through time



They call Chicago, the "Windy City."
In poetry class, we have read two poems that talk about Chicago. These poems were Sandburg's "Chicago" and Troupe's "Chicago (for howlin' wolf)." Heck, there is even a musical about this great city called "Chicago."

So really, what is so great about Chicago?

On October 7, 1871, October experienced a devastating fire, one that engulfed 2,000 acres. The fires also destroyed more that 73 miles of roads, 120 miles of sidewalk, 2,000 lampposts, 17,500 buildings. I think the biggest thing that Chicago had to deal with was the reconstruction and how they were going to rebuild their city. During the time of the rebuilding stage, the city of Chicago build the first skyscraper in 1885. In "Chicago," Sandburg personifies Chicago to be a be tall,strong man. This depiction comes from the large skyscrapers that are found in Chicago.

In the 19th century, Chicago became an important railroad center. "The first railroad in Chicago was the Galena & Chicago Union, which was chartered in 1836 to build tracks to the lead mines at Galena in northwestern Illinois." Reference to this factor of Chicago is in "Chicago," "Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler."
Chicago's railroads helped with transporting goods throughout the United States. One of these goods was meat. Chicago was referred to as "Porkopolis." The city was granted the title in 1862. In Sandburg's poem he refers to Chicago "Hog Butcher of the World."



I think the main reason why Sandburg and Troupe wrote poems about Chicago is because of the history of the city. The city has a great background and began leading other cities with its industrial background.

BLACKOUT CHAMPS!!

Recently in my poetry class, we discussed different poetry techniques. One of which was the Blackout Method.
Blackout poetry is when you have an article or any piece of literature and you literally black out with a marker any excessive words. The words that are left over join together to make a poem.
This style does not have to have any rhyme but crossing out these excessive words makes the piece come together. There becomes more of a message after you Blackout.
I like to think of Blackout poetry like a scavenger hunt. It's trying to find a hidden message within the story.

In class, the piece that I chose to Blackout was Andy Grammer's "Keep Your Head Up."
Like most songs, there is much chorus repetition. By blacking out some of the lyrics, I was able to grasp the meaning of the song.

Recently my field hockey team won the District Championship. I decided test it out and see if I could make the method work on the article.


















Poetry can also be fun. I strongly encourage you to Blackout. It could be anything! Lyrics to your favorite song, a random page in your favorite book or an article in your local newspaper. There is a hidden message waiting to be discovered!

Melody Medley

When you turn on the TV and look for a sports game to watch, there is much to choose from. You can choose women's basketball or men's basketball, softball or baseball, men's soccer or women's soccer. Usually the men choose to watch the men sports and the women choose to watch the women sports.

However there was a time when there wasn't women sports figures like Venus Williams or Mia Hamm that young girls looked up to. There wasn't even much competitive sports. The physical activity that girls participated in was cheerleading and square dancing! Talk about humiliating! Only 1 in 27 girls participated in sports.
That all began to change in 1972 when Title IX was passed. Title IX stated that,
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..."

In other words, Title IX was the beginning of women's sports. But not only the beginning of women athletics, it also stated that men and women sports should be equal.

Part of the problem with men and women sports was that women was not rewarded for their achievement. Billie Jean King is know for her "battle of the sexes" competition with men's tennis star, Bobby Riggs. Proving that girls CAN do anything just as well as men can, Kings beat Riggs and was awarded 100,000 dollars. Quoting Larry Schwartz for ESPN, "She was instrumental in making it acceptable for American women to exert themselves in pursuits other than childbirth."
Also stated in the article, Neil Amdur wrote in The New York Times,"Most important perhaps for women everywhere, she convinced skeptics that a female athlete can survive pressure-filled situations and that men are as susceptible to nerves as women."

King knew that she wanted to stand up for women's equality ever since she was young. She made it clear that she was going to work on this goal until it was achieved. She said, "In the '70s we had to make it acceptable for people to accept girls and women as athletes," she said. "We had to make it OK for them to be active. Those were much scarier times for females in sports."

The song "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" is about a man and a women trying to out due each other. Though they do not mention sports, there is still that competition to which gender is better.

So next time you turn on the TV and watch Serena Williams win a match or girls, next time you play in a sport, remember that it is all thanks to TItle IX and for those who helped make equality exist.

Rhyming is commonplace in poetry, nobody can deny that. Although find primarily in children's poetry, it's nonetheless a regular sight in poetic literature as a whole. Rhyme can add a variety of emotions to a poem, but it's usually used in a light-hearted manner (again, children's poetry), or to add a macabre sense of conflicting viewpoints in a poem to highlight one or the other (for example, "Résumé," by Dorothy Parker, rhymes in a sing-song way. It's about the various ways to commit suicide).

But what happens when you change the rhyme? What if you lead the reader on and have them believe you're going to say one word, and then suddenly insert something else entirely? Wikipedia calls this a "mind rhyme." This can end in myriad ways, ranging from humorous, to frustrating, to sickening. Oftentimes a mind rhyme is used as a censor bypass.

Humorous rhyme subversions are the most obvious and most easily-found type. The infamous Alanis Morissette song "Ironic" gives us this:

It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife,
It's like meeting the man of my dreams and meeting his beautiful husband

There's plenty of other examples of humorous mind rhymes, but mind rhymes for the purpose of censoring are just as easy to find. One of the most famous examples comes from the classic song by The Killers, "Mr. Brightside."
Now they're going to bed
And my stomach is sick
And it's all in my head
But she's touching his chest

This isn't even a new thing concept, this idea of subverting rhymes. There's even an example found in Hamlet!
Hamlet: For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
A very, very—pajock.

(note that in this case "was" is pronounced similar to "ass")

Finally, the ultimate example of a mind rhyme comes in the form of the infamous "Assumption Song:"

I just hope I don't lose points for profanity here.

Gagavolution

So, the other day, I discovered an Lady Gaga song that I'd never heard before: Fashion(not to be confused with one of the songs on her new album, Fashion of His Love). As a huge Gaga fan, I was actually really confused at first; how could I have missed this one? Did I accidentally delete it from my computer? Why didn't I remember this at all?

After poking around for a bit, I found it was actually never released on an album, but was actually written in 2007 for Sex and the City(I've never watched SatC but I'm going to assume this is par for the course). Since it was written in 2007, right before Lady Gaga exploded onto the pop music scene with Just Dance, its style was much closer to the dance-pop music Gaga was known for, rather than the 80's disco inspirational pop ballads (is that even a genre?) of today, in songs like Bad KidsHair, and of course, Born This Way.

This got me thinking about how Lady Gaga has evolved over her three years in the mainstream. There's no denying she's a media superstar: Bad Romance is the second-most viewed video in YouTube history, and she's the most-followed user on Twitter, beating out people like Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama. But how has this all affected the Lady's image and music?

Modern-day Lady Gaga music, while just as loud and synth-pop as before, mixes and matches genres like a musical thrift shop rack. Gaga describes her album, Born This Way, as

"...an avant-garde techno-rock record that is really really heavy and industrial on one end and really joyful and pop on the other. So it is pop music with a very very very strong message and a very uncomfortable message, it intended to give you a sugar high and a terrible stomach ache."

Compare this to her earlier albums, The Fame and The Fame Monster:
"Songs like "Poker Face", "Just Dance" and "LoveGame" are uptempo dance songs, with "Poker Face" carrying a dark sound with clear vocals on the chorus and a pop hook."
"[The Fame Monster] is a pop experimentation with industrial/Goth beats, 90's dance melodies, an obsession with the lyrical genius of 80's melancholic pop, and the runway."

And it's clear that her style has changed dramatically, going from a combination of Madonna and Britney Spears to...a combination of Madonna and more Madonna. Still great either way! In addition, her lyrics have evolved from sexually-charged, late-night club fodder to emotional, heartfelt messages on everything from gay marriage in America to how to style your hair. And while I personally prefer her old style of music, I can appreciate the new direction she's taken.

It's too bad the same can't be said for her fashion sense.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

BAM to JAM


The Black Arts Movement, also know as BAM, is a period of time from 1960 to 1970.
This era began with the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X, and the
This era embraced artist to create work that dealt with African American culture
and experience.
BAM is recognized for motivating a new generation of poets, writers and artists.


Art:
During the Black Arts Movement provided "a change of vision." BAM artists
concentrated on improving Black Americans' perception of themselves. Artists
during this era distinguished a Black identity. Painters Lois Mailou Jones and John Biggers along with sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett all aligned themselves with the younger generation of black artists, creating works that emphasized their shared interest in African design sensibilities, the black figure, and the continuing struggle for civil rights.


Baraka:
Amiri Baraka is credibly know for his influence during the Black Arts Movement. He sometime is even referred to as the founder. His contribution came mainly from his poetry, normalizing the use of Black Language during the age.
"Black Music" was most notably one of his most provocative collection of writings. Baraka’s Obie Award winning
brought a new dynamic to the idea of poetry.
This would influence generations of performance poets like the Last Poets all the way through to cats in the early 2000s on Def Poetry Jam.
"Not only was Baraka’s writing visceral and evoking of spirit, but as an orator or performer, his tactic of inviting or even demanding that the audience become part of the performance, are all techniques that Baraka helped popularize, and are now deeply established in hip-hop culture."




California...Guys?

So, lately, I've been listening to a lot of The Baseballs. For those who don't know, The Baseballs are a group of three German men with 70s haircuts who make rock covers of popular American songs. In just two albums, they've covered everything from Rihanna, to Katy Perry, to Plain White Tees, and all the way back to Ke$ha. Whether their take on the songs is an improvement is up to the listener (I personally think their version of Hot 'n' Cold is a thousand times better than the original), it's odd to see how different the same lyrics can sound when performed in another style.

This got me thinking about different interpretations of songs. What about a song gives it a certain feel, a certain ethos (thanks, Creative Spirit!)?

Obviously, the instrumentation plays a big part in it. My god, look what orchestration did for Rebecca Black. Even without vocals, they've turned "Friday" from an unintentionally-hilarious Auto-Tuned mess to an inspirational, swelling ballad.
I'd say that the rhythm of the song can also play a big part in it as well. For example, Justin Bieber slowed down 800% produces an amazing, ambient masterpiece.
The imagery accompanying a song can also influence how you view it, but there are obvious exceptions: even Lord of the Rings won't stop Yakety Sax from making things hilarious.

To illustrate just how far you can take a song, I'm going to show the greatest cover of any song ever. It's so amazing I'm not even going to link it; I'm gonna EMBED this bad boy:

I guess she understands what irony is, after all.

That is, in fact, Alanis Morissette turning The Black-Eyed Peas' song "My Humps" into a soulful, emotional ballad that just speaks of lost love and ruined lives. You can just feel the sheer pain in Morissette's voice as she belts out the truth about what she gon' do with all that junk.

I guess one thing you can take away from all this is that you can't really say you dislike a song, you can only dislike that performance. Some people may hate Super Bass, but hey, throw some adorable British girls and you've got yourself ten million listeners.

My poetry class was recently assigned to read Bob Dylan's song "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." The song shocked me, because it wasn't the normal everyday song that you can hear on the radio.

It tells a story, a true story about a man by the name of William Zanzinger who killed a waitress, Hattie Carroll.

As Dylan sings the song, there is not much emotion that is added to the song. He sings as if he is reading. There is a certain zing to the way he sings. He sounds as if he knows something is wrong with the picture.

Some background for those who are not familiar with Dylan's past. His songs became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movement.As I listened to the song, I made the instant connection between the song and the civil rights era. The song does not explain that the women was black and the man was white. My assumption was supported by newspaper articles.
The outcome of this case is appalling, though the court system agreed that it was equal, it turns out that, according to the lyrics, Zanzinger got away with just six months behind bars.




The court system in the past was know for being unjust. The Emmett Till case was probably one of the most inequitable rulings. There was ample evidence of the murder of Till. Because of the prejudice court system, the jury knew their ruling, the moment they were assigned to the case.

Justice was not served at the time for those who died on the accounts of discrimination, but thank goodness today there is fairness within the courts and all mean are equal!

This past Thursday my high school held it's annual Grandparent's Day. This day is special to those who have grandparents. The day begins attending a convocation with your grandparents, then having lunch, followed by the grandparents attending classes. This is a exciting day for the grandparent's because they are overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction as they watch their grandchild's success.
A grandparent is someone who is always there for you. They're that person in your life that never disagrees with you and is always there for you when you need extra comfort. They buy that really cool toy that your parents said no to buying you. They are that one person in your life that you can go to and talk to because you know that they will not tell anyone.

My grandmother passed away two years ago. Grandparent's Day was something that was so special that she flew in from Florida to attend this special day.

I'm not going to explain how I was saddened not having a Grandparent walking around with me, because while I miss her every single day, I think that she taught me well. She was always there for me when I needed her the most. She taught me to always try my best and to always strive for my goals in life. She left this earth as a fighter, and for that I am truly honored to call her "Noni". Her fun, strong and upbeat personality will always have a permanent place in my heart.




Over the weekend, I took the SAT for the second and final time. For those of you who haven't taken it yet (or have just forgotten how it works), the SAT is broken down into ten sections in total: three of mathematics, three of critical reading, three of writing, and one variable, experimental section. One of the writing sections is also the 25-minute essay, meaning 60% (potentially even 70%!) of the SAT revolves around your skill with words...but all in prose.

I began to wonder why a test so heavily steeped in the English language didn't include a single instance of poetry, but rather paragraphs and paragraphs of prose. Surely, understanding poetry is all about critical reading?

Then I got to wondering about what it actually requires to understand poetry. Obviously, critical reading skills are important, but that can't be all. I scored fairly high on my critical reading section and I still have difficulty fully understanding lots of poems. So I began to investigate: The official SAT information video describes the SAT as a test where "all students from all backgrounds have an equal chance to succeed." Does that mean that not all students can read poetry equally as well?

Well, frankly, not really. Poetry is something that, I believe, needs to be taught. There are certainly instances of genius poets who were self-taught, such as Dorothy Parker or Elizabeth Bartlett, but these are very rare, like a four-leaf clover, or a Red Sox fan who isn't currently foaming at the mouth. In most cases, people have to be taught how to read/write poetry. There are entire guides to understanding poetry, even textbooks!

Poetry needs to understood, examined, scrutinized. It's nearly impossible to glean everything a poem has to offer within one reading, which is why I believe the SAT does not test a student's ability to read poetry: as a test designed to provide equal opportunity to all students, not everyone has the ability or skill to read what a poem has to offer.

After reading cummings' poem, "may i feel said he,"

I began to realize how crazy poetry could be,
Poets could get away with really writing about anything, including sex! RISKY
Jump to present day today and everything in the media includes SEX! Literally, everything!
I think the true breakout about the term sex came from, Salt-n-Pepa
with their hit song, "Let's Talk about Sex,"and then the media began to attack the topic.


Something else that shocked me when I read cummings' poem, was the two individuals were having a secret affair!
you see it in the the movies and on an episode of Desperate Housewives.
There's just something about men and women these days not finding happiness together, so instead of breaking up they need to go behind each other's back and have sex with someone else!
Most of Taylor Swift songs are about a boyfriend who has cheating. Titles like: "Should've Said No", "Better than Revenge", "Your Not Sorry" and many more.
Even though they do not go into the extreme of having a sexual relationship, there is even an episode on Disney Channel's show Good Luck Charlie called "Dog Bites Girl" where the main character finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with someone else.

So yes, even though it seemed like a taboo for cummings to discuss such risky topics, the topic really has become a major topic for much movies, shows and songs.

Well, this is a Harry Potter-themed blog, so I supposed I'd better make an actual post about Harry Potter!

Magic is, of course, the core driving force in the Harry Potter books (besides, y'know, love and death and Voldemort and such), but J.K. Rowling's approach to magic in a children's book is different than what one might expect. Typically, magic spells in children's books will rhyme, but the world of Harry Potter uses spells like "Evanesco" (Liquid-Vanishing Spell), "Petrificus Totalus" (Full-Body Bind Curse), or "Expecto Patronum" (Patronus Charm). While the words might have a sort of rhythm to them, they don't necessarily need to rhyme. In fact, the only instance in the books where a spell rhymed was a failed, fake spell in the first book. Ron Weasley's brothers tell him to try a rhyming incantation to change the color of his rat, Scabbers, as you can hear in this amazing audiobook rendition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as read by Stephen Fry:

(skip to 7:40)
Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow
Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow!

The spell does not work, leaving Scabbers as dull and grey as before.

So, if rhyming isn't good enough for Harry Potter, why is it good enough for other works of fiction? Why do their spells so often have rhythm and rhyme? They don't even have to be children's stories; series like Charmed had entire episodes devoted to rhyming incantations. There are entire websites dedicated to spells, many of which rhyme. Even William Shakespeare himself had rhyming incantations in the famous "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble" speech given by the three witches in Hamlet.

Part of this may be a tradition; spells seemed to have always rhymed, so why break away from what both you  and the audience are familiar with? Rhymes and rhythm do seem to add a layer of mysticism and intention to a phrase, which may be part of what led to the connotation of magic.

So, do they have to rhyme? Not at all! While the rhyme and rhythm do add a certain flair to a spell, they are by no means necessary. They sure do make it sound nice, though.

And remember, it's levi-OH-sa, not levi-oh-SA.

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