I was tempted to call this post Poetry is Rubbish.
The truth is that generally I find what’s known as serious poetry genuinely is rubbish, a sort of pseudo-intellectual bullshit similar to contemporary art.
Contemporary artists use paint, bricks, unmade beds or in some cases absolutely nothing to appeal to pseudo-intellectuals, inspiring them to wax lyrical about what the painting says to them, using quotes from philosophers and basically talking nonsense to make themselves seem to be more clever than the rest of us.
Some poets do exactly the same – but with words instead of weird materials.
When I was at school, my English teacher forced me to write a critical essay comparing two poems about horses. I read them both and didn’t understand a bloody word. I didn’t trust my English teacher, a man who had forced me to read The Mayor of Casterbridge (arguably the worst book I have ever read) and hailed William Shakespeare as a kind of modern genius (read my post Shakespeare is Rubbish for my thoughts on the bard).
I was tempted to write the shortest critical essay ever:
The poems are both about horses and they are both rubbish.
Instead, I pretended to be a pseudo-intellectual and wrote a load of old horseshit (pardon the pun). Guess what? I got a good grade and that essay helped me to pass my O-Level English Literature. Incidentally, I had to write essays about William Shakespeare’s plays and The Mayor of Casterbridge as well.
My only conclusion is that all you have to do succeed in English Literature is pretend to be a pseudo-intellectual.
I stand by this.
In fact, I once wrote a poem on this very blog. The poem was proof that anybody can devolve into a pseudo-intellectual and, with the aid of a dictionary and thesaurus, can come up with any old rubbish.
Here for your pleasure (or otherwise) that poem entitled The Loquacious Figment:
I contemplated the torso of a despondent galactic masterpiece
And my heart thanked my voracious sight.
I hastened my swiftness, disoriented by my awareness
Yet somehow did not submit to fright.
If there is anybody who thinks it is good, then let me know and I will write an entire book filled with this kind of nonsense and – perhaps – make some money out of it.
Anyway, you are probably wondering why I decided not to call this post Poetry is Rubbish. The truth is that there are poems out there that I actually quite like. These are usually silly limericks, puerile nonsense and, most importantly of all, the works of terrific songwriters.
Songs are simply poems put to music and I have some terrific thought-provoking songs in my collection that can stand alone as poetry.
Here are some examples of silly little limericks:
A stupid young man from Crewe
Once decided to build a canoe.
When out on the river
He found, with a shiver,
He’d forgot to use waterproof glue
A funny young fellow named Perkins
Was terribly fond of small gherkins.
One day after tea
He ate ninety three
And pickled his internal workings.
I have also written poetry for a couple of friends on their birthdays. Here’s an example (with the names changed to protect the guilty):
A new decade's upon you; it's your 50th today.
The little hair that you have left will soon be turning grey.
You still play squash and cycle, to cling onto your youth.
But soon your muscles will give way, along with every tooth.
And when your gums are toothless (and chewing is a chore)
The only food you'll manage will be sucked up through a straw.
You take your lady dancing (Mimi is her name)
But believe me, waltzing's tricky when you use a zimmer frame.
Your pension is approaching more quickly than you think.
But forget that for the moment - we'll buy you lots of drink
To wish you HAPPY BIRTHDAY and, if I may be so bold,
To make sure you remember, Bill, that you are VERY OLD.
Now I’m over fifty myself, I think that might have hurt.
Moving on to songs, I think that the words can be almost as powerful as the music itself. In some cases, the words actually elevate a song for me. Here are some examples:
Rush – Nobody’s Hero
Dream Theater – The Answer Lies Within
I can only conclude therefore that poetry is not rubbish, only those pretentious poems seemingly auto-generated from a dictionary.
Well, I feel inspired to write another on for you, dear reader. Picture the scene. I have opened my browser and have begun looking for quotes from celebrated philosophers. I am devolving into a pseudo-intellectual.
I am now an arrogant smartarse who is looking down on the world. My inspiration is complete. In the words of Plato:
“The beginning is the most important part of the work”.
I present to you: The Enigmatic Equation:
The imperceptible formula, cloaked in derangement,
Struggles to reveal its worth.
Yet the analyst blindly persists in frustration
Anticipating its Caesarian birth
What a load of gibberish. I hope you agree.
Over to you, dear reader.
Do you like poetry?
If so, does all of it make sense to you? Am I just being thick?
Do song lyrics inspire you?