We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
You could not find if you searched high
Nor if you searched low
So much distressing poetry
In one small folio.
The verse herein, it stinks like goats,
It’s eviller than demons.
(The editors have overlooked
The noxious Mrs. Hemans—
“The boy stood on the burning deck”
And others like far worse—
Few e’er surpassed fair Missus H.
In terms of woeful verse.)
But represented here inside
Are poor lyrists aplenty,
From goodly poets’ rare misaims
To talents much more scanty.
Take Lillian E. Curtis, please,
Whose hearken to Erato
Led her to rhyme a lambent ode
In praise of the potato.
And Matthew Green who knew about
The insides of most people.
His work “The Spleen” is plain-spoken;
Its rhymes are far from feeble.
James McIntyre was an oaf
From nearby Canada;
His “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese”
Is ripened foofaraw.
And Francis—Francis Saltus Saltus—
Dead at thirty-nine
Of frequent dips into the jug
Of overrich French wine.
(As fermented by Baudelaire,
De Nerval, and de Sade;
Was painfully declawed.)
Lest we forget Ms. Julia Moore
Fair Michigan’s “Sweet Singer,”
Who on young girls’ ignoble deaths
Was often wont to linger
(I must confess, in private spell
I actually enjoyed
One Alfred Austin’s doggerel—
One could be worse employed.)
Of farflung spread and varied wit
The troubadors diverse
Did share among them certain traits
That skewed their art perverse.
Each seems possessed with certainty
That genius is his quittance;
The rules of meter, rhyme, and scan
Are evidenced in pittance.
A morbid taste runs through their work,
As smooth as warm Vitalis:
Disasters, crashes, frozen tots,
A stressing of italics.
Not for these scribes the dawn lakeside
Nor trembling furzey heath.
Their subjects are of everyday:
Diseases of the teeth,
A ditch, a brick, a walking stick,
A grunting hog, a lawsuit,
A governor, two bears—what next,
The dripping of a faucet?
The speech of babes and foreigners
Is sure to mirth provoke.
For than an Irishman who lisps
What is a better joke?
But let us not these worthy bards
Their scribblings to mock,
This book is undiluted joy
And to it you must flock.
For when the evening’s winding down
And laughter grows less hearty
There is a simple proven way
To stimulate the party—
Just ope the Petras’ matchless tome,
Smile down on man and woman,
And in a clarion voice recite:
“Earwigs,” by Edward Newman.CP