Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Poultry in the Air

I Googled: "the worst poem ever written" and by Unanimous Internet Decision Here 'Tis:

A Tragedy

Theophilus Marzials

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.

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!
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.
Plop, flop.

Now, what the hell is wrong with me, I rather like it. Theophilus Marzials. Sounds made up, but, yes, it seems this man existed at one time. "Drop. Dead. Plop, flop" and damn if that isn't the way you drop dead.

Here's a statement back up the claim:

Theophilus Marzials

My thanks to Alexandra Botelho for suggesting the next item. She writes, "Many people consider 'A Tragedy,' by the minor Pre-Raphaelite poet Theophilus Marzials to be the worst poem ever written in the English language. It was published in 1874, in his book of poems entitled The Gallery of Pigeons. Rossetti hated it." I must say I could scarcely believe it wasn't a spoof, so I checked the first edition, and sure enough this text is accurate and the book clearly had pretensions to be taken seriously.

The above comes from The Bad Poetry Index--here 'tis:


Hasn't everyone written some bad poetry?; more than good; and even the good write bad poetry, besides dying young and finishing last. I was once a bad poet and I had 22 poems published when I was young in little mags entitled, Golliards, Quartet, Sword & Scimitar, The Magdalene Express--"They built the ampitheater with their teeth to watch the man eat the A-bomb with his ass...." Come on now; please I was young. I was even giving a 15-minute segment on the University of Wisconsin FM station during which I improvised an interview with Gertrude Stein. I thought it was great; I gloated over it. A friend at the U of W swears he heard my segment on the show--though my friends are weird and think they hear a lot of things they don't really hear. There's a poem in there somewhere. "Drop Dead. Plop. Flop."

How else can you drop dead?

for The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad someone had the balls to admit to liking this poem, because i do too. hah but really, a genuine enthusiasm for the second-rate is much better than false enthusiasm, or none at all.