The teacher stood in front of her class and wrote two words on the blackboard. Poetry, and prose. “Does anyone know the difference,” she said, “between poetry and prose?”
No one put up his hand.
“Alright,” said the teacher, “here’s an example. If I were to say Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go – well that would be poetry. But if I said Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to follow her – well that would be prose. Is anyone beginning to understand now?”
“Oh, oh, Miss I think I understand,” said a little boy, waving his arm in the air.
“Oh, very good, Johnnie,” said his teacher.
“Yes, Miss, and I’ve got an example,” said Johnnie.
“Would you like to share it with us?” said the teacher.
“Yes, Miss,” said Johnnie, and stood up so that the whole class could see him. “Mary had a little lamb, it had a funny grunt, it put its nose up Mary’s clothes, and sniffed around her…… do you want poetry or prose, Miss?”
“Oh, mother of God,” said the teacher, beside herself with panic, “prose please Johnnie, prose!”
“Alright, Miss,” said Johnnie, not in the least put out, “arsehole.”