ShrinkLits were, so far as I’m aware, invented by Maurice Sagoff.
The goal of the ShrinkLit is to summarise, in (preferably rhyming) verse, a piece of literature that is accepted as a classic. As much as possible, in-jokes about the original text comprehensible only to those who have read it should be included.
Here are some of mine:
Jason ditches wife Medea
(The guy is just a low-life playa!)
For Glauce: foxy young heiress
To Creon’s kingdom – nothing less.
Medea’s mood turns rather sour,
But since she has a witch’s power
She screams ‘Life! Is this how it goes?
All right then: death to all my foes!’
Before she can set up her sting
Medea chats with Athens’ king
Who offers her an exit plan
(Aegeus is a kindly man).
Medea starts to sweet-talk Jason:
‘Darling, would you let me hasten
To plaster o’er our ghastly rift:
Could I send your Glauce a gift?’
‘Thank Zeus!’ says much relievéd J,
‘I never thought I’d see the day
On which you’d feel at all forgiving…
What is this gift you plan on giving?’
(The crown and dress are pretty things
But just as ’tis with magic rings,
Hearken to the rule I tender:
Mark such gifts ‘Return To Sender’)
Having iced Glauce and Creon
Medea now must get her flee on.
And final kick to Jason’s buns?
Too easy: she just kills their sons.
Spurred on by prophecies, witches and wife,
Macbeth is heading for serious strife:
Should he kill Duncan, or should he just wait?
Nope, he did it: cue a knock at the gate.
King Bethy! Onward his destiny speeds!
By the way – anyone seen Duncan’s steeds?
Macbeth now deals with extraneous stuff:
Banquo, and the kids and wife of Macduff.
Scotland’s in tatters, Macduff is bereft –
But, don’t worry, only one act is left.
Lady M can’t deal, she sleep-walks instead,
And kills herself, in an excess of dread.
M is cool: ‘She should have died hereafter’
No room for tears, and none left for laughter.
Great Birnam wood trots towards Dunsinane,
It’s all over, M, and ain’t it a shame?
Laird Macduff was from womb untimely ripped,
And now Macbeth of his head must be stripped.
Does art change when we know artists’ aims?
The Bard wrote this play to flatter King James.