[The author's family was later traced and the original version of The Chaos is in J17, with an introduction by Chris Upward.]

The Chaos

Author Unknown, edited by Chris Upward.

This poem was found in a girls' High School in Germany in 1945 by a British soldier, who gave it to Tom Hazelwood, who gave it to Terry De'Ath, who gave it to the Editor, who has since also received a rather different version of it from Benno Jost-Westendorf of Recklinghausen. (It seems it has also been used in English teaching at universities in South Germany.) No information on the author was available from any source. Both versions received appeared carelessly copied from an original, but it was often possible to correct errors in one by reference to the other. The version given here is therefore hopefully an improved conflation of the two. Though it still contains certain oddities, overall this compendium of cacography is composed with some skill, with alternating feminine and masculine rhyming couplets. Two features that make it a slightly less than ideal catalogue for present use are the rather archaic vocabulary and sometimes curious implied pronunciation. Can any reader name the author or supply any further details about the poem? It is here given on the left in traditional orthography, and on the right in Cut Spelling with no letter-changes and doubtful forms italicized. The economy of the Cut Spelling version is immediately apparent from the most casual comparison of the two columns, and on closer inspection it will be seen how often Cut Spelling distinguishes the heterophonic spelling-rhymes of traditional orthography. The Chaos is a most demanding test-bed for reformed spelling, and readers are invited to comment on the Cut Spelling forms or to re-write some or all of the poem using a different reformed orthography.

The Chaos

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and words.
I 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! 10

Th Caos

Dearst creatur in creatn
Studying english pronunciatn,
I wil teach u in my vers
Sounds like corps, cor, hors and words.
I wil keep u, Susy, busy,
Make yr hed with heat gro dizy;
Tear in y, yr dres u l ter;
Qeer, fair seer, hear my prayr.
Pray, console yr loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
 
Just compare, dear, beard and 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, 20
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir,
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Just compare, dear, beard and herd,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sord and sward, retain and Britn
(Mind th latr how it s ritn);
Made has not th sound of bad,
Say said, pay paid, laid but plad.
Now I surely wil not plage u
With such words as vage and agu,
But be carefl how u speak,
Say: gush, bush, stek, streak, brek, bleak,
Previus, precius, fucia, via,
Recipe, pipe, studing-sail, coir,
Woven, ovn, how and lo,
Script, receit, shoe, poem, to.
 
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, reviles,
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining, 30
Scholar, vicar but 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 mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind, 40
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Billet does not end like ballet
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Hear me say, devoid of trikry,
Dautr, laughtr, and Terpsicre,
Typhoid, measls, topsls, iles,
Exiles, similes, reviles,
Holy, holy, signl, signing,
Same, examining but mining,
Scolr, vicr but cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far,
From 'desire' desirebl,
     admrbl from 'admire',
Lumbr, plumr, bir, but brier,
Topshm, bruam, renown but nown,
Noledg, don, lone, gon, non, tone,
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kichn, licen, laundry, laurl,
Gertrude, germn, wind and mind,
Sene, Melpomne, mankind,
Tortos, turqoise, chami-lethr,
Reading, Reding, heathn, hethr.
This phonetic labyrinth
Givs mos, gros, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Bilet dos not end like balet,
Bouqet, walet, malet, chalet.
Banqet is not nearly parqet,
Wich exactly ryms with kaki.
 
Blood and flood are not like wood,
Nor is mould like should or could. 50
Discount, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,
Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation is O.K.
Blod and flod ar not like wood,
Nor is mold like shud or cud.
Discount vicount, load and brod,
Toward, to forwrd, to reward,
Ricochetd and crocheting, croqet?
Riht! Yr pronunciatn is OK.
 
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend,alive and live.
Is your "r" correct in higher?
Keats asserts its rhymes Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Buoyant, minute, but minute. 60
Roundd, wundd, greve and siv,
Fiend and fiend, alive and liv.
Is yr 'r' corect in hihr?
Keats aserts it ryms Thalia.
Hu, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Boynt, minut, but minute.
 
Do you know the book of Joshua?
Are you fond of it? Of course you are.
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?
Twopence, threepence, tease and easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy.
Venice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies, but lullabies.
Do u no th book of Joshua?
Ar u fond of it? Of cors u ar.
Wud it taly with my rym
If I mentnd paradigm?
Twopence, threpence, tease and easy,
But cese, crese, grese and greasy.
Venice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabis, but lulabys.
 
Would you like some more? You'll have it!
David, affidavit, davit. 70
Calico, but caliph, Sheik
Has the sound of Czech cake.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed and vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice, 80
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,
Suit, suite, ruin; circuit, conduit
Rym with "shirk it" and "beyond it".
Wud u like som mor? U l hav it!
David, afidavit, davit.
Calico, but caliph, Sheik
Has th sound of czec cake.
Librty, library, heve and hevn,
Rachel, ace, mustache, elevn.
We say halod, but alowd,
Peple, leprd, towd, and vowd.
Mark th difrnce, morover,
Between mover, plovr, Dover,
Leechs, breechs, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice,
Caml, constbl, unstable,
Principl, disiple, label,
Petl, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plat, promis, pal,
Suit, suite, ruin; circit, condit
Rym with 'shirk it' and 'beyond it'.
 
But it is not hard to tell
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion, 90
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 dessert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
Cow, but Cowper, some and home. 100
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul, and gaunt but aunt,
Font, front, won't, 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; 120
Mind, meandering but mean,
Serpentine but magazine.
But it is not hard to tel
Wy it s pal, mal, but Pal Mal.
Musl, musculr, gaol, iron,
Timbr, climer, bulion, lion,
Worm and storm, chase, caos, chair,
Senatr, spectator, mayr,
Ivy, privy, famus; clamr
Has th 'a' of dram and hamr.
Pusy, busy, and poses,
Desrt, but desert, adres.
Golf, wolf, countnnce, leutennts
Hoist, in lu of flags, left pennts.
Curir, cortir, tomb, bom, comb,
Cow, but Cowpr, som and home.
Stranger dos not rym with angr,
Neithr dos devour with clangr.
Sol, but foul, and gaunt, but ant,
Font from wont, want, grand and grant.
Arsnic, specific, senic,
Relic, retric, hygenic,
Goosebery, goos, and close, but close,
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.
Say invei, nei but invegle,
Make th latr rym with egle;
Mind, meandring but mean,
Serpntine but 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, 120
Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes with (but piebald doesn't) nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, phthisic, shone, bone, pshaw.
Don't be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet.
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, stool,
Worcester, Boleyn, foul and ghoul.
And I bet u, dear, a peny,
U say mani-(fold) like many,
Wich is rong. Say rapir, pir,
Tier (one ho ties), but tir.
Arch, arcangel; pray, dos ering
Rym with hering or with stiring?
Prisn, bison, tresur-trove,
Treasn, hovr, covr, cove,
Perseverance, sevrnce. Ribld
Ryms with (but piebald dosnt) nibld.
Phaetn, paean, nat, gat, naw,
Lien, thisic, shon, bone, pshaw.
Dont be down, my own, but rugh it,
And disfinguish bufet, bufet.
Brood, stood, roof, rook, scool, wool, stool,
Worstr, Bolyn, foul and gul.
 
With an accent pure and sterling
You say year, but some say yearling. 130
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the "z" - a gentle hint.
With an accent pure and sterling
U say year, but som say yerling.
Evil, devl, mezotint,
Mind th 'z' - a gentl hint.
 
Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don't mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;
Nor are the proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them Vaughan and Strachan. 140
No, my maiden, fair and comely,
I don't want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud
Is no better than McLeod.
But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial and denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.
Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh, 150
But you surely must not say
Piquet rhymes with soubriquet.
Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he couchant looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!
Now u need not pay atentn
To such sounds as I dont mentn,
Sounds like pors, pause, pors and paws,
Ryrning with th pronoun yrs;
Nor ar th propr names included,
Tho I ofn herd, as u did,
Funy ryms to unicorn,
Yes, u no them Vaun and Straan.
No, my maidn, fair and comly,
I dont want to speak of Chomly.
No. Yet Frude compared with proud
Is no betr than McLeod.
But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial and denial,
Trol and troly, relm and ream,
Schedule, mischif, sism and sceme.
Argil, gil, Argyl, gil. Surely
May be made to rym with Rali,
But u surely must not say
Piqet ryms with sobriqet.
Had this invalid invalid
Worthles documnts? How palid,
How uncuth he couchnt lookd,
Wen for Portsmth I had bookd!
 
Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Episodes, antipodes,
Acquiesce, and obsequies. 160
Pious, impious, limb, climb, comely,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, breathed, breath, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.
The "th" will surely trouble you
More than "r", "ch" or "w",
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames,
Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget 'em - 170
Wait! I've got it: Anthony,
Lighten your anxiety.
Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramor, enamrd, flihty,
Episodes, antipodes,
Aqies and obseqis.
Pius, impius, lim climb, comly,
Worsted, worstd, crumbly, dumly,
Conqr, conqest, brethed, breth, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.
Th 'th' wil surely trubl u
Mor than 'r', 'ch' or 'w'.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Tomas, tym, Teresa, Tams,
Tompsn, Chatm, Walthm, Stretm,
- Ther ar mor but I forget m -
Wait! I v got it: Antny,
Lihtn yr anxiety.
 
The archaic word albeit
Doesn't rhyme with eight - you see it.
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, you make your choice.
Shoes, goes, does. - Now first say: finger,
Then say: singer, ginger, linger;
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age, 180
Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry, furry, bury,
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath,
Faugh, oppuguant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners...
Th arcaic word albeit
Dosnt rym with eit, u see it.
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, u make yr choice.
Shoes, gos, dos. Now first say: fingr,
Then say: singr, ginger, lingr;
Real, zeal, mauve, gauz, and gage,
Marige, foliage, mirage, age,
Hero, heron, qery, very,
Pary, tary, fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, Job, blosrn, bosm, oath,
Fau, opugnnt, keen opuners,
Boing, bowing, banjo-tuners...
 
Yachts you know, but nose, canoes,
Puisne, truism, use, to use?
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual, 190
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, light, eight, height,
Put, nut, granite, and unite.
Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer not with zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senate, but sedate,
Gaelic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but hour, and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas. 200
Sea, ideal, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Yats u no, but nose, canos,
Pune, truism, use, to use?
Tho th difmce seems litl,
We say actul, but vitl,
Seat, swet, chaste, cast, liht, eit, hiht,
Put, nut, granit, and unite.
Reefr dos not rym with defr,
Fefer not with zephr, hefr.
Dul, bul, Gefry, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senat, but sedate,
Galic, Arabic, Pacific,
Sience, concnce, sientific;
Tur, but our, and sucr, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansa.
Sea, ideal, ginea, area,
Sam, Maria, but malaria,
Yuth, south, suthrn, clense and clean,
Doctrin, turpentine, marine.
 
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver. 210
Compare alien with italian,
Dandelion with batalion,
Raly with aly, yea, ye,
Y, I, y, y, wey, ke, qy.
Say aver, but evr, fever,
Neithr, lesur, sken, recever.
 
Never guess, it is not safe,
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph,
Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface and grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass,
Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn, and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with "here" but "ere". 220
"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, fevers,
Once, but nonce, toll, roll, but doll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen, 230
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.
Nevr ges, it is not safe,
We say cavs, valvs, haf, but Ralph,
Stary, granry, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eri,
Face, but preface and grimace,
Phlem, phlegmatic, as, glas, bas,
Bas, large, target, gin, giv, verging,
Ot, oust, joust, and scour, but scurging;
Ear, but ern, and wer and ter
Do not rym with 'here' but 'er'.
'A' of valr, vapid vapor,
'S' of news (compare newspaper),
'G' of gibet, gibn, gist,
'I' of anticrist and grist,
Difr like divers and divers,
Rivrs, strivers, shivrs, fivers,
Once, but nonce, tol, rol, but dol,
Polish, polish, pol and pol.
Sevn is riht, but so is even,
Hyphn, rughn, nephew, Steven,
Monky, donky, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demene, cork, work.
 
Pronunciation - think of Psyche -
Is a paling, stout and spikey.
Won't it make you lose your wits
Writing "groats" and saying groats?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwhale,
Islington, and the Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict. 240
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with "enough"?
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of "cup".
My advice is - GIVE IT UP!
Pronunciatn - think of Syce -
Is a paling, stout and spikey.
Wont it make u lose yr wits
Riting 'groats' and saying 'groats'?
It s a dark abys or tunl
Strewn with stones like rolok, gunl,
Islingtn, and the Ile of Wiht,
Husif, verdict and indit.
Dont u think so, readr, rathr,
Saying lathr, bather, fathr?
Finaly, wich ryms with enugh'?
Tho, thru, plou, cogh, hogh, or tugh?
Hicugh has th sound of 'cup'.
My advice is - GIV IT UP!