It was the best of poetry, it was the worst of poetry…

Father and I got into an unintended discussion about poetry tonight.  He likes it, I don’t.  I’ve always felt rather stupid for not liking it.  I mean, all truly intelligent and classy people appreciate poetry, right?  It’s like not liking hot tea; if you don’t, you’re clearly a rustic.*

For your amusement and amazement…

The Tay Bridge Disaster by William McGonagall,…
…proclaimed the worst poet in British history.

This is the last of eight painful stanzas which I have kindly and generously reproduced here:

 [note: This is not intended to be funny. It just is.]

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

On the other hand, this is my favorite poem. Ever. (Yes, I’m low-brow.  This used to bother me.)

The Pobble Who Has No Toes by Edward Lear

I
The Pobble who has no toes
Had once as many as we;
When they said, ‘Some day you may lose them all;’–
He replied, — ‘Fish fiddle de-dee!’
And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink,
Lavender water tinged with pink,
For she said, ‘The World in general knows
There’s nothing so good for a Pobble’s toes!’
II
The Pobble who has no toes,
Swam across the Bristol Channel;
But before he set out he wrapped his nose,
In a piece of scarlet flannel.
For his Aunt Jobiska said, ‘No harm
‘Can come to his toes if his nose is warm;
‘And it’s perfectly known that a Pobble’s toes
‘Are safe, — provided he minds his nose.’
III
The Pobble swam fast and well
And when boats or ships came near him
He tinkedly-binkledy-winkled a bell
So that all the world could hear him.
And all the Sailors and Admirals cried,
When they saw him nearing the further side,–
‘He has gone to fish, for his Aunt Jobiska’s
‘Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!’
IV
But before he touched the shore,
The shore of the Bristol Channel,
A sea-green Porpoise carried away
His wrapper of scarlet flannel.
And when he came to observe his feet
Formerly garnished with toes so neat
His face at once became forlorn
On perceiving that all his toes were gone!
V
And nobody ever knew
From that dark day to the present,
Whoso had taken the Pobble’s toes,
In a manner so far from pleasant.
Whether the shrimps or crawfish gray,
Or crafty Mermaids stole them away —
Nobody knew; and nobody knows
How the Pebble was robbed of his twice five toes!
VI
The Pobble who has no toes
Was placed in a friendly Bark,
And they rowed him back, and carried him up,
To his Aunt Jobiska’s Park.
And she made him a feast at his earnest wish
Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish;–
And she said,– ‘It’s a fact the whole world knows,
‘That Pebbles are happier without their toes.’

*I don’t like tea.

4 thoughts on “It was the best of poetry, it was the worst of poetry…

  1. Maybe it's genetic? I also like another Lear poem simply because of the last couplet:

    Far and few, far and few are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    There heads were blue, their hands were green and they went to sea in a sieve.

    (hope that's right – from memory)

    Like

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