Little Willies Theme
Yes, Little Willies are macabre, morbid, twisted, sick, cruel, etc., etc. They are still considered to be light verse — meaning, in addition to the requisite violence, the poems should also be funny. If you’re going to write Little Willies, you need to keep your wit about you.
In general, Little Willie poems have two critical elements:
- A gruesome act of violence by Willie
- An indifferent or cheerfully inappropriate response to said violence
The spectacular Little Willie poems have a third element: wordplay of some sort (such as a pun).
Little Willie poems have one to three characters:
- Little Willie
- The victim (usually Willie himself or a relative)
- The indulgent/disinterested parent
Here’s an example of a Little Willie with one character — Willie is both perpetrator and victim of the violent act and the poem’s author provides the indifferent response:
Willie was a Chemist,
But Willie is no more,
What Willie thought was H20
Here’s an example with two characters — Little Willie perpetrates an act of violence on his sister and then has the cheerfully inappropriate response to that violence:
Little Willie feeling mean
Fed his sister Paris Green
As she lay in agony
Willie boy was full of glee.
Here’s an example with three characters — Little Willie perpetrates an act of violence on his sister and his mother provides the indifferent response:
Little Willie with a thirst for gore,
Nailed his sister to the door
His mother said with humor quaint
“Willie, dear, don’t scratch the paint.”
Little Willies Poetic Form
Poem Length: The most common length is four lines, a quatrain.
Rhyme Scheme: Most web sites will tell you the rhyme scheme is a a b b, but a b a b is also popular and one of the most popular Little Willies (see below) uses a b c b.
A Little Willie feeling mean
A Fed his sister Paris Green
B As she lay in agony
B Willie boy was full of glee.
A Little Willie, on the track,
B Didn’t hear the engine squeal.
A Now the engine’s coming back,
B Scraping Willie off the wheel.
A Willie was a Chemist,
B But Willie is no more,
C What Willie thought was H20
B Was H2SO4.
Meter: Let’s be honest. Most of the people who have written Little Willies are not people concerned with metre, but people concerned with effect. Trying to scan many of the poems is like trying to nail pudding to a tree.
That said, if I was going to pick one meter, it would be trochaic tetrameter. That’s four trochees, or four “feet” where the first syllable is stressed.
DUM ta / DUM ta / DUM ta / DUM ta
– or –
Little / Willie / from his / mirror
So there you have it. Everything you need to know to write your own Little Willies. The mood, the characters, and the form. If you write something you’d like have posted here, please feel free to send it to me, but know that I do reserve the right not to publish anything that offends my delicate sensibilities. In general, I won’t publish anything with sexual violence or violence against animals. Don’t ask me to explain the logic, for there is none. It’s just how I am. Also, if you wish to be published here, do your best to be funny and to stick to one meter (variations within the meter are fine).