February 18, 2011

Awful Poetry

Some years ago, my friend Lionel Thompson turned me on to The Stuffed Owl, a wonderful collection of terrible writing, which has been reissued by New York Review Books. Here are some gems:

“Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes:
Into the tomb the Great Queen dashes.”

an anonymous Indian poet

“So we leave her,
So we leave her,
Far from where her swarthy kinsfolk roam;
In the Scarlet Fever,
Scarlet Fever,
Scarlet Fever Convalescent Home.”


“She sat with her guitar on her knee,
But she was not singing a note,
For someone had drawn (ah, who could it be?)
A knife across her throat.”

Lord Lytton

“Holy Moses! Have a look!
Flesh decayed in every nook!
Some rare bits of brain lie here,
Mortal loads of beef and beer,
Some of whom are turned to dust,
Every one bids lost to lust;
Royal flesh so tinged with 'blue'
Undergoes the same as you.”

Amanda McKittrick Ross (Possibly the worst writer who ever lived. The Inklings used to hold competitions to see who could read her poetry for the longest without laughing.)

“Of composts shall the Muse disdain to sing?
Then, planter, wouldst thou double thy estate,
Never, ah! Never, be ashamed to tread
Thy dung-heaps . . .”

—James Grainger

And here's my own addition, from A.S. Byatt's otherwise fabulous Possession:

“Others in a heavy Vase
Raise darkly scented Wine -
This warm and squirted White
In solid Pot - was mine . . .”

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