Wolves, goats, ducks, deer, elk and bears

What I’m interested in in these Octopus ‘lists’: does Moore gravitate toward the same sounds, is there something about this arrangement of sounds that sound good. Broadly, what patterns of sound can be discovered?

General observation: most of these lists seem composed of at least one more item than is necessary; there’s a feeling of excess at play. If it were just “bears, elks, deer, wolves, and ducks” we’d lose nothing informationally (though, true to say, bears and goats occur elsewhere in the poem.) These lists intentionally go on a bit.

bears, elks, deer, wolves, goats, and ducks

At a glance — 6 one-syllable items in list, conjunction. Total syllables: 7. Dominant vowel (as a letter): e. Dominant vowel (as a sound): none, though one side of the line seems weighted toward ‘-air’ type sounds (bear, deer) and the other toward ‘uh’ type sounds (wolves, ducks). Dominant consonant (letter): s, (l, k,r). (dominant consonant sound): “s” toggles between “s” and “z” –z,s,0,z,s,s. Note: “bears” and “deer” seem (roughly) to go together phonetically, as do “elks” and “ducks”, and “elks” and “wolves”, and even “ducks” and “wolves”, while “goats” is a bit of an outlier: there is no ‘g’, no ‘t’, no long ‘o’ anywhere else in the line… (Also, the ‘bear’ and ‘deer’ sounds together recall “bear’s ears” from a later list: “…Indian paint-brushes, bear’s ears and kittentails…”)

Noted: the plural of elk is elks or elk. So Moore perhaps made a choice there. (In fact, ‘elk’ seems the more standard: many elk, many elks; two elk, two elks.) While we’re at it: bears, elks, deer, wolves, goats, ducks. The popularity of bears is about as great in the singular.

Written phonetically: /bɛɹz/ /ɛlks/ /dɪɹ/ /ˈwʊlvz/ /ɡoʊts/ /ənd/ /dʌks/

These links lead to the type of sound for each phoneme, probably some mistakes here (since I don’t know anything about this): bears, elks, deer, wolves, goats, and ducks

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