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Engaging Methuen Readers

Bad Poetry Day

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Thomas and Ruth Roy of Wellcat Holidays, remembering the days when we were all forced to study “good” poetry in school, have created a holiday dedicated to the art of bad poetry instead.  The Roys recommend using this day to “compose some really rotten verse and send it to your old high school English teacher.”

Sadly, I do not remember the wording of a  poem I wrote about an ant being vacuumed up, written in all sincerity which makes bad poems so good,  so instead I will share some of my favorites written by others.

Thomas Holley Chivers (1809-1858) was a physician by training, but poetry was his life’s passion and pursuit.  Unfortunately, Chivers was best know for a plagiarism controversy with his friend, the poet Edgar Allen Poe.  Chivers was quite keen on sound patterns and the musicality of his writing which is evident in the following verse:

From Railroad Song:

Clitta, clatta, clatta, clatter,
Like the devil beating batter
Down below in iron platter–
Which subsides into a clanky,
And a clinky, and a clanky,
And a clinky, clanky, clanky,
And a clanky, clincky, clanky;
And the song that I now offer
For Apollo’s Golden Coffer–
With the friendship that I proffer–
Is for Riding on a Rail


I was recently reminded of the the clever and infamous tombstone epitaph for Les Moore (“Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a .44. No Les. No More.”) by an NPR story on  Tombstone, AZ’s wild west era graveyard, Boot Hill, as a vacation destination.  Another lesser know, but cringe-worthy, epitaph comes to us from Moulton, Cambridgeshire, England:

Sacred to the memory
of Lettuce Manning
Oh, cruel death
To satisfy thy palate,
Cut down our Lettuce
To make a salad.


Alas, poets are only human and even a great poet can have an off day…

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON (1809-1892)

Claribel  (a melody)

Where Claribel low-lieth
The breezes pause and die
Letting the rose-leaves fall;
But the solemn oak-tree sigheth,
Thick-leaved, ambrosial,
With an ancient melody
Of an inward agony,
Where Claribel low-lieth.

At eve the beetle boometh
Athwart the thicket lone;
At noon the wild bee hummeth
About the moss’d headstone;
At midnight the moon cometh,
And looketh down alone.
Her song the lintwhite swelleth,
The clear-voiced mavis dwelleth,
The callow throstle lispeth,
The slumbrous wave outwelleth,
The babbling runnel crispeth,
The hollow grot replieth
Where Claribel low-lieth

Editor’s Note: 

Me thinketh
the poem doth
devolveth


These three poems and more can be found in the delightfully entertaining compendium of bad poetry, PEGASUS DESCENDING: a book of the best bad verse edited by James Camp, X. J. Kennedy, and Keith Waldrop.

 “Bad Poetry Day” featured image is from FMAGAZINE

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One thought on “Bad Poetry Day

  1. These are so funny! I remember writing some pretty bad ones back when I was a teenager but hopefully they are long gone and won’t show up to embarrass me when I least expect it!

    Like

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