Good Poetry/Bad Poetry

April 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm (Smáskitligr) (, , , )

What is generally considered the worst poem written in the English language:

A Tragedy
by Theophilus Marzials

Death!
Plop.

The barges down in the river flop.

Flop, plop.

Above, beneath.

From the slimy branches the grey drips drop,
As they scraggle black on the thin grey sky,
Where the black cloud rack-hackles drizzle and fly
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop
On the black scrag piles, where the loose cords plop,
As the raw wind whines in the thin tree-top.

Plop, plop.

And scudding by

The boatmen call out hoy! and hey!
All is running water and sky,

And my head shrieks — “Stop,”
And my heart shrieks — “Die.”

* * * * *
My thought is running out of my head;
My love is running out of my heart,
My soul runs after, and leaves me as dead,
For my life runs after to catch them — and fled
They all are every one! — and I stand, and start,
At the water that oozes up, plop and plop,
On the barges that flop
And dizzy me dead.
I might reel and drop.
Plop.
Dead.

And the shrill wind whines in the thin tree-top
Flop, plop.
* * * * *
A curse on him.
Ugh! yet I knew — I knew —
If a woman is false can a friend be true?
It was only a lie from beginning to end —

My Devil — My “Friend”

I had trusted the whole of my living to!

Ugh; and I knew!

Ugh!

So what do I care,

And my head is empty as air —

I can do,
I can dare,

(Plop, plop
The barges flop
Drip drop.)

I can dare! I can dare!

And let myself all run away with my head
And stop.

Drop.
Dead.

Plop, flop.

Plop.

Now let’s read my favourite poem, by my favourite poet:

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

– John Keats

I am certain this has been said before, but the only tragedy present in Marzials’ poem is the poem and possibly – on a different, transcendental plane – the poet.

As an interesting side-note, Marzials was also a musician:

Pan Pipes - Theo Marzials

Pan Pipes - Theo Marzials

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