The World's First Multi-National eBook! 
Life Begins at 80...on the Internet
(Casting the Net from Au to Za)

Search the Internet

HomeIntroductionNew StoriesSubscribeRecent Stories
IndexSearchAbout UsGraypow
Guest Map


Ten years ago, Professor Jerrold Zar composed a brilliant poem, which he called Candidate for a Pullet Surprise. Here's the first verse:

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Since then, thousands of readers around the world have chuckled over the poem and emailed it to their friends. It's also a favourite on the internet. Google has some 1420 references to it on websites which have copied the original words, or posted versions amended by various wits and halfwits. Some have retitled it as Owed to a Spelling Checker or Spellbound. Many webmasters have added Unknown author, or Anon. One says Sauce unknown.

Here is the complete, official version, published with the author's kind permission:


By Jerrold H. Zar

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker's
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we're lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault's with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word's fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw's are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.


Title suggested by Pamela Brown.
Based on opening lines suggested by Mark Eckman.

By the author's count, 127 of the 225 words of the poem are incorrect
(although all words are correctly spelled).

Published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results, Jan/Feb1994, page 13. Reprinted Vol. 45, No. 5/6, 2000, page 20.

By a remarkable coincidence, Jerrold Zar's experience closely resembles that of another gifted comic poet, Gene Ziegler, the overlooked author of a "stolen" poem that's now best known as If Dr Seuss Were a Technical Writer. Both authors were professors at US universities, both their names start with Z, and both poems were written in 1994.

We found Zar's bio on the internet, and emailed him, seeking details of his original poem and asking if he was aware of this strange coincidence He replied:

Indeed, I have seen Gene Ziegler's poem more than once on the Internet!

I am aware that my poem has been distributed many, many times, via e-mail, at Web sites, and in printed newsletters and books, very often without attribution and in a badly altered form. As you note, my poem was published in 1994 (and republished "by popular demand" in 2000).

I recently retired from Northen Illinois University, where, after several years as a professor of biological sciences, I served for 18 years as Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research and Dean of the Graduate School. In the latter position I presided over 53 graduation ceremonies for master's- and doctoral-degree students.

At these events I and the University president were expected to deliver some inspirational remarks to the graduates as they went forth with their advanced degrees to improve the world in a variety of fields.

I soon evolved my remarks into something out of the ordinary, such as poetry with both comical and serious elements and a quasi-serious discourse on lessons from "The Wizard of Oz" that are pertinent to such graduates.

Shortly after my retirement, the University reformatted the undergraduate-student and graduate-student graduation ceremonies in a fashion that excluded the Dean of the Graduate School from making formal remarks to the assemblage. (The purported reason for this change was, in part, accommodation of the audiences in the available campus venues; but I do wonder if it was to prevent any future dean from presenting the kinds of literary offerings that I produced.)

Needless to say: I have NOT read aloud the spelling-checker poem; it rather loses its impact if it is not experienced visually!

We asked Zar: "Why didn't you call your poem Candied Date for a Pull It Surprise? That would have increased the word count by two."

He replied: "Yes, there are other homophonous titles that could have been used. And in the first stanza, halve could have been used in place of have and Marx instead of marks. My thought at the time was to begin the poem relatively correctly and then quickly lapse into the homophones."



Copyright 2004

Eric Shackle

Story first posted March 2004

HomeIntroductionNew StoriesSubscribeRecent Stories
IndexSearchAbout UsGraypow
Guest Map

  Designed, maintained and hosted by
BDB Web Designs
  Accuse, Abuse or Amuse  
The Web Master