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by Lionel E. Deimel


B with butterflye the father of my children be,

The ruler of the whole of me,

The lord of all my eyes can see,

My lover for eternity.


Be protector of my welfare be;

Defender from all jeopardy;

My nurse and doctor, faithfully;

The guardian of my property.


Be my friend and mentor be,

First reader of my poetry,

Quick offerer of sympathy,

The sharer of my diary.


Be my entertainer be,

Enchanter through your company,

The banisher of my ennui,

And bringer of delight and glee.


Be my chef and baker be;

My sommelier with chilled Chablis;

My source of jelly, toast, and tea,

Of crusty bread and roasted Brie.


Be my life’s companion be,

First among my coterie,

My escort both on land and sea,

And keeper, whose love sets me free.


Be the father of my children be,

The ruler of the whole of me,

The lord of all my eyes can see,

My lover for eternity.





I have little explanation for the substance of this poem, but I can say a something about the mechanics of its composition. The first line was written first, and the first verse was written before any of the others. The first verse set the pattern for the remainder of the poem, but it was not immediately obvious what that pattern was. The second verse was initially:

Be my friend and mentor be

Entertain me with your company

Bring me jelly, toast, and tea,

Crusty bread and roasted Brie

The “Be ... be” pattern of first lines was set, but I had not yet put constraints on the following lines. Sometime after writing the first draft of the second verse, I realized that the first two verses differed in an important respect—the first verse spoke only of what the lover is to be, whereas the second verse introduces notions of what the lover is to do. Given that the first lines were to begin and end with “be” and all the lines were to end with a “be” syllable, it began to seem natural that, for lines other than first lines, being was to be preferred over doing. (There is an amazing number of English words ending in a “be” syllable, by the way. This poem hardly scratches the surface of the possibilities.) My initial choice for a title was “Be the Father of My Children Be,” but I decided to shorten the title at the same time I decided to emphasize being.

Because I am a compulsive punctuator, I could not resist the urge to introduce conventional punctuation into the poem. The original version had essentially no end-of-line punctuation, and I cannot say that I find the punctuation at all helpful, except possibly to clarify that the first lines are stylized and not intended to flow grammatically into the lines that follow. It may seem curious that some lines end in commas and others terminate in semicolons. This is not as arbitrary as it may seem; the semicolons being necessitated by the presence of list items containing internal commas.

I wrote this poem 5/19/2002 and was quite happy with it. A few days later (on 5/27/2002), I permuted several of the lines to improve continuity, a simple matter in a poem where all the lines rhyme. Two days later, largely in response to reviewers, I revised several lines to improve meter and (again) continuity. Over a five-day period in February 2003, I switched a couple of commas and periods that had hitherto eluded my proofreading. I then tweaked the punctuation again—it would have been so much easier to have left out punctuation entirely—and revised the penultimate verse several times. I hope this poem is now in its final form.

— LED, 2/16/2003

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