Trochaic Hexameter on the Covid-19 Sign

A customer’s lifetime of scanning poetry alerted him to the presence of something decidedly odd about the Covid-19 sign taped to our ice cream case. And indeed, on closer inspection, it seems that what we have here are two lines of Trochaic Hexameter (albeit broken up and with a substitution in the final foot):

Wear a/ mask
And/ keep your/ social/ distance/
We are/ not re/sponsi/ble
For/ Covid/–19/disease./

(Customers will frequently remark on the unwieldy English of this sign. Oh, so it wasn’t you guys who did Covid-19 eh?) Asked to go full tilt and put this into rhyme we get —

Wear a mask, we must implore,
And stand six feet from us or more.
We’re not to blame, let us be clear,
For the virus you contract in here.

Having tried four or five versions of that, and finding this the best, I’m reminded of how subtle poetry can be. Between the spritely and mundane, a mere syllable can make an almost mystical difference.

(Chance Sweepings …)

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