Acting like animals!


Hello, dVersifiers – and welcome to dVerse, the poets’ pub. Tonight I want us to have some fun with verbing. I’ve been haring around all day, ferreting out ideas for this, but now I want to sit down and pig out on some poetry. Listen to me rabbiting on! Time to stop horsing around and do some writing.

Have you ever noticed how some animals have become verbs? You can dog someone’s footsteps. You can weasel out of something – but nobody cats, and I’m pretty sure you can’t elephant. You can lark around, you can badger somebody, you can clam up, but you don’t dragonfly.

Photo by Satyabratasm on

I’m not sure how these words became verbs. They are often verb phrases, actually, – you pig out, you horse around – and they are little hidden metaphors that we can easily overlook, part of the poetry of everyday language. They’re rather lovely.

Let’s play with them.

You have choices! You can take one of these well-established verbs, like Peg Duthie did here, with rabbiting. It’s different to “talking” or “chatting”, isn’t it?  

Decorating a Cake While Listening to Tennis


The commentator’s rabbiting on and on
about how it’s so easy for Roger, resentment
thick as butter still in a box. Yet word
from those who’ve done their homework
is how the man loves to train—how much
he relishes putting in the hours
just as magicians shuffle card after card,
countless to mere humans
but carefully all accounted for.
At hearing “luck” again, I stop
until my hands relax their clutch
on the cone from which a dozen more
peonies are to materialize. I make it look easy
to grow a garden on top of a sheet
of fondant, and that’s how it should appear:
as natural and as meant-to-be
as the spin of a ball from the sweetest spot
of a racquet whisked through the air like a wand.

And the lightness of “larking” in this poem, with its connotations of sky, and early morning:



My wife sits in her swivel chair
ringed by skeins of multicolored yarn
that will become the summer sweater
she has imagined since September.
Her hand rests on the spinning wheel
and her foot pauses on the pedals
as she gazes out into the swollen river.
Light larking between wind and current
will be in this sweater. So will a shade
of red she saw when the sun went down.
When she is at her wheel, time moves
like the tune I almost recognize now
that she begins to hum it, a lulling
melody born from the draft of fiber,
clack of spindle and bobbin, soft
breath as the rhythm takes hold.

Photo by Denitsa Kireva on

Here are the animal verbs I can think of – you might be able to think of another one! I’m sure there are some animals that aren’t local to me that haven’t become part of my vocabulary.

  • ape
  • badger
  • beetle
  • bug
  • dog
  • ferret
  • goose
  • hare
  • hog
  • horse
  • hound
  • lark
  • parrot
  • pig
  • rabbit
  • squirrel
  • weasel
  • wolf
  • worm
Photo by Boys in Bristol Photography on

You can take one (or two, or a whole menagerie) and incorporate them into a poem.

Or (because poets love to verb!) – you can verb an animal of your choice. What would it mean to tiger? To gazelle? To cow? To spider? Would it be movement, or more complex behaviour? Do you know someone who does this? Do you sometimes like to cat? Do you occasionally butterfly?

Please remember to link back to this post in your post. Link up to Mr Linky, too. Read and comment – everybody loves feedback!