THE GOOD BAD POEM

One can, perhaps, place Kipling more satisfactorily than by juggling with the words “verse” and “poetry” if one describes him simply as a good bad poet.
………………………………………………………………George Orwell

Mr.[T.S.] Eliot describes Kipling’s metrical work as “verse” and not “poetry,” but adds that it is “great verse,” and further qualifies this by saying that a writer can only be described as a “great verse-writer” if there is some of his work “of which we cannot say whether it is verse or poetry.”

“At his worst, and also his most vital, in poems like “Gunga Din” or “Danny Deever,” Kipling is almost a shameful pleasure, like the taste for cheap sweets that some people secretly carry into middle life.  But even with his best passages one has the same sense of being seduced by something spurious, and yet unquestionably seduced.  Unless one is merely a snob and a liar it is impossible to say that no one who cares for poetry could get any pleasure out of such lines as:  “For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:/Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!” and yet those lines are not poetry in the same sense as “Felix Randal” [Hopkins] or “When icicles hang by the wall” [Shakespeare] are poetry.

“There is a great deal of good bad poetry in English, all of it, I should say, subsequent to 1790.  Examples of good bad poems–I am deliberately choosing diverse ones–are “The Bridge of Sighs,” “When all the World is Young, Lad,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Bret Harte’s “Dickens in Camp,” “The Burial of Sir John Moore,” “Jenny Kissed Me,” “Keith of Ravelston,” “Casabianca.” All of these reek of sentimentality, and yet—not these particular poems, perhaps, but poems of this kind, are capable of giving true pleasure to people who can see clearly what is wrong with them.  One could fill a fair-sized anthology with good bad poems, if it were not for the significant fact that good bad poetry is usually too well known to be worth reprinting.  It is no use pretending that in an age like our own, “good” poetry can have any genuine popularity.  It is, and must be, the cult of a very few people, the least tolerated of the arts.  Perhaps that statement needs a certain amount of qualification.  True poetry can sometimes be acceptable to the mass of the people when it disguises itself as something else.  One can see an example of this in the folk-poetry that England still possesses, certain nursery rhymes and mnemonic rhymes, for instance, and the songs that soldiers make up, including words that go to some of the bugle-calls.  But in general ours is a civilization in which the very word “poetry” evokes a hostile snigger or, at best, the sort of frozen disgust that most people feel when they hear the word “God.”

“If you are good at playing the concertina you could probably go into the nearest public bar and get yourself an appreciative audience within five minutes.  But what would be the attitude of that same audience if you suggested reading them Shakespeare’s sonnets, for instance?  Good bad poetry, however, can get across to the most unpromising audience if the right atmosphere has been worked up beforehand.

“The fact that such a thing as good bad poetry can exist is a sign of the emotional overlap between the intellectual and the ordinary man.  The intellectual is different from the ordinary man, but only in certain sections of his personality, and even then not all the time.  But what is the peculiarity of a good bad poem? A good bad poem is a graceful momument to the obvious.  It records in memorable form–for verse is a mnemonic device, among other things–some emotion which very nearly every human being can share.  The merit of a poem like “When all the World is Young, Lad” is that, however sentimental it may be, its sentiment is “true” sentiment in the sense that you are bound to find yourself thinking the thought it expresses sooner or later; and then, if you happen to know the poem, it will come back into your mind and seem better than it did before.”

……………………………………………………………………..–George Orwell, 1946

13 Comments

  1. Christopher Woodman said,

    November 28, 2009 at 9:05 am

    This topic is a wonderful avenue with big trees and broad vistas, like Aix-en-Provence — or wherever you’d much rather be but are unlikely to get there anytime soon…

    The “Good Bad Poem” — what a wonderful idea, and one I’ve not encountered before. Indeed, I wish we could all come out of the closet and post a favorite
    in the genre — and then speculate about why we like the poem so much even though we are also quite prepared to admit it is bad, and maybe even laugh at it. Some of the things in life I love best are like this, like Bluegrass and lemon merinque pie, for example, or even Billy Collins, things I miss a lot in my Asian paradise and/or when I’m secure by the fire in my “tower” hung with tapestries and entitlements.

    But what interests me also is the “Bad Good Poem,” many of which I have written myself. On the other hand, I don’t think I have ever written “Bad ‘Good’ Poems” any more than I have written “Good ‘Bad’ Poems,” and the reason is that every poem I write is a one-off, and requires such huge effort and commitment on my part — not having been blessed with much talent for either poetry or mimicry, and not having an awfully good memory either. Tom Brady, on the other hand, is a master at this, and seems to be able to dash off “good bad poems” in the blink of an eye — like his last poem following the previous article, “Scarriet Gives Thanks to Harriet.” Yes, Tom has such an acute ear and historical sense that he can come up with a ‘Good’ poem anytime in most any style, and particularly in a very, very ‘Bad’ one!

    I also like very much the ‘Harriet Monroe’ poem he wrote (adapted? distorted? massacred?) immediately below her portrait.

    From time to time back on Foetry.com we analyzed poems by editors or publishers who were in ethical trouble to see if we could detect a corresponding falseness in their writing — a fascinating question in itself. One particularly memorable moment came when Jeffrey Levine’s “template letters” first hit the fan in November 2006. After all, Levine had set up Tupelo as the most ethical press of them all, which made his lapse all the more gratuitous — and unfathomable. Indeed. no one knew where to look, even those who were not in a position to admit it!

    Not surprisingly, Foetry was not happy when AGNI put up a poem of Jeffrey Levine’s on-line right in the middle of the crisis, and we took the opportunity to examine that poem in some detail, concluding that it was what might be called a “bad ‘good’ poem.” What that means is that it was a poem that was in an acceptable style, a mainstream poem written in a mainstream style about a mainstream subject, but shallow and pretentious. It was false, in other words — one simply couldn’t commit oneself to what it said, and even though it was made of genuine materials one couldn’t trust the sentiments. Like the letter itself, it made all the right noises and, indeed, if you didn’t know it was a mass-mailing you would have been thrilled to have received it. I certainly was when I received mine, indeed my checkbook was out — until I saw an identical copy of my own letter to somebody else on Foetry, and realized I’d been had.

    That’s what we found in the poem too, “Antonia Refuses the Nectarines,” and we wrote about it like this in a thread called “Workshop the Experts: Jeffrey Levine.” Have a look and see if George Orwell would have approved of what we said.

    I’d just like to add how much it meant to us at Foetry when the editor of AGNI came on-line to say the poem had been selected for publication before the crisis arose. [click here] He was very professional and did not criticize Jeffrey Levine — just wanted us to know that the timing of the publication of the poem was out of his hands.

    Christopher

  2. thomasbrady said,

    November 28, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    This Just In…the Hot 100…

    1. The Raven–Poe
    2. How Do I Love Thee?–Barrett
    3. Jabberwocky–Carroll
    4. The Tyger–Blake
    5. Casey At The Bat–Thayer
    6. Jenny Kissed Me–Hunt
    7. Dangerous Dan McGrew–Service
    8. Stopping By Snowy Woods–Frost
    9. Annabel Lee–Poe (2)
    10. Village Blacksmith–Longfellow
    11. Do Not Go Gentle–Thomas
    12. Owl & The Pussycat–Lear
    13. Ancient Mariner–Coleridge
    14. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock–Eliot
    15. When I Was One and Twenty–Housman
    16. Road To Mandelay–Kipling
    17. Kubla Khan–Coleridge (2)
    18. The Bells–Poe (3)
    19. Road Less Traveled–Frost (2)
    20. My Captain, My Captain–Whitman
    21. There Is A Certain Slant Of Light–Dickinson
    22. The Brook–Tennyson
    23. Trees–Kilmer
    24. The Red Wheel Barrow–Williams
    25. Hymn: Concord Monument–Emerson
    26. Second Coming–Yeats
    27. The Oak–Morris
    28. The Highwayman–Noyes
    29. Children’s Hour–Longfellow (2)
    30. Ulalume–Poe (4)
    31. The Land of Counterpane–Stephenson
    32. Invictus–Henley
    33. Pied Beauty–Hopkins
    34. Richard Cory–Robinson
    35. Because I Could Not Stop For Death–Dickinson (2)
    36. Little Orphan Annie–Riley
    37. Where Are The Snows–Villon, trans. Dante Rossetti
    38. The Bridge of Sighs–Hood
    39. Lake Isle of Innisfree–Yeats (2)
    40. Conqueror Worm–Poe (5)
    41. White Man’s Burden–Kipling (2)
    42. Dulce Et Decorum Est–Owen
    43. Listeners–De La Mare
    44. Midnight Ride of Paul Revere–Longfellow (3)
    45. Dream-Land–Poe (6)
    46. Ball Turret Gunner–Jarrell
    47. Gunga Din–Kipling (3)
    48. Subaltern’s Love Song–Betjamen
    49. Avolan–Chivers
    50. The Lost Doll–Kingsley
    51. Suppose!–Cary
    52. Indian Names–Sigourney
    53. Snowbound–Whittier
    54. The Spider and the Fly–Hewitt
    55. The Voice of Spring–Hemens
    56. The Chatterbox–Taylor
    57. This Be The Verse–Larkin
    58. My Childhood-Home I See Again–Lincoln
    59. Wanderer’s Song–Symons
    60. Ben Bolt–English
    61. Song: When I Am Dead, My Dearest–Rossetti, Christina
    62. Ave Atque Vale (In Memory Charles Baudelaire)–Swinburne
    63. Ode–O’Shaughnessy
    64. A Decanter of Madeira–Mitchell
    65. To One Who Makes Confession–Blunt
    66. Victor–W.H. Auden
    67. The Widow’s Song–Pinkney
    68. Mt. Lykaion–Stickney
    69. The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls–Longfellow (4)
    70. To W.S.M.–Monroe, Harriet
    71. To ___–Whitman, Helen
    72. Vitai Lampada–Newbolt
    73. Song Of Myself–Whitman (2)
    74. Science! True Daughter of Old Time Thou Art– Poe (7)
    75. The Snow-Storm–Emerson (2)
    76. Twas The Night Before Christmas–Moore
    77. I Heard A Fly Buzz–Dickinson (3)
    78. The Ballad Of the Reading Gaol–Wilde
    79. Three Little Kittens Lost Their Mittens–Follen
    80. She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways–Wordsworth
    81. Recessional–Kipling (4)
    82. Vitae Summa Brevis–Dowson
    83. The Hill–Masters
    84. Sea Love–Mew
    85. War Is Kind–Crane, Stephen
    86. Discovery–Belloc
    87. Fern Hill–Thomas (2)
    88. Mending Wall–Frost (3)
    89. Cool Tombs–Sandburg
    90. Anthem For Doomed Youth–Owen (2)
    91. I Have A Rendezvous With Death–Seeger
    92. The Soldier–Brooke
    93. Still Falls The Rain–Sitwell
    94. Greater Love–Owen (3)
    95. All In Green Went My Love Riding–Cummings
    96. The Emperor of Icecream–Stevens
    97. Daddy–Plath
    98. The Forsaken Merman–Arnold
    99. Lucifer In Starlight–Meredith
    100. In Flanders Fields–McCrae

  3. Christopher Woodman said,

    November 29, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Good Bad Poem, or Bad Good Poem — or just a ‘loved one?’

    Oh dear.

    This list makes me feel a bit queasy because there are so many poems on it that are as indispensable to how my head works as the old nursery rhymes of my childhood including the commercials, the hymns and the Armed Services anthems I learned to help fight better in the Second World War. These are the poems that make sense out of my literary self, and all of them at one time or another have defined me — and I guess they still do.

    But obviously the unexamined poem isn’t worth living any more than The Lords Prayer is worth reciting unexamined. Because I’d love to know how many human beings there are all over the world who still have to recite an indispensable prayer every night before they can go to sleep, even long after they’ve ceased to believe in the prayer, or even respect it? If we let a poem just sit there and say itself over and over again in our heads simply because it makes us feel comfy, or makes sense out of our heritage, our mentors, or our superior, national identities, I’d say we’d fallen asleep already!

    Have any of you ever read Simone Weil on The Lord’s Prayer? Because the parallel that extreme exercize offers to how we might read the much loved poems above can work in two ways, either to liberate us from rote allegiances to some of them or to reaffirm them as vital and give them entirely new life. (If you thought The Lord’s Prayer was simplistic you’re in for a terrible shock!)

    Because poetry like prayer is full of mumbo-jumbo, and we need to be far more rigorous about what we blindly assume is ‘Good’ or, of course, blindly reject as ‘Bad’ and then make it new!

    Which, needless to say, is a major theme on Scarriet.

    Christopher

  4. Christopher Woodman said,

    November 29, 2009 at 2:53 am

    A year ago Tom (as Monday Love) said this to me about “The Red Wheelbarrow:”

    I agree with Christopher. It’s a horrible poem. And every time someone points out another stupid trick the poem has up its sleeve, the more I hate it.

    I replied to him like this:

    That’s not what I meant at all, Monday, anymore than I meant that the Willendorf Venus was “horrible” or “muddled” when I said a child wouldn’t get even a single silver star from the art-teacher for modelling it.

    I don’t know the publication or critical history of “The Red Wheelbarrow,” but I bet William Carlos Williams never suspected it would become famous–anymore than the tribal nomad or troglodyte who modeled the Willendorf Venus down on his or her haunches on the ground ever imagined that the little local goddess would be reproduced, studied and worshipped on tables all over the world. Because that’s the point, it seems to me—the ubiguity of both art objects, not their scam.

    Because there’s no trickery at all in “The Red Wheelbarrow,” Monday Love–indeed by my standards that’s one of the poem’s major faults, it’s so uncomplicated, simplistic in fact, and if one might say it much, much too unmetaphysical, like Enosis—a judgement that of course exposes my own prejudices.

    It is in fact the ubiquity of “The Red Wheelbarrow” that is the “patine” that has lent it its aura of sanctity, just as the wet lips and smudgey fingers of the faithful make ravishingly beautiful many Orthodox icons that are, from an art critic’s point of view, improperly painted. I mean, who would want to judge that most famous of all icons, the Christos Acheiropoietos, by its composition and brushstrokes? I know the icon well because I have it right up beside the Buddha on the shrine by my office. It’s name means “The Christ not made by hand”–it is reputed to have been not painted but written directly by the Holy Spirit. And that says enough.

    So too The Lord’s Prayer can’t be judged by its imagery and structure, or even by its cogency. It haunts me daily, this silly, incorrect little muddle. I’m the last person in the world who wants another dead-beat “Father” up there, or a “Kingdom,” for God’s sake–indeed, like Emily Dickinson I’d swap Heaven for the chance just to think about a fuck!

    Yet I pray it when it overcomes me still—or more honestly it prays me. (That’s a much better way to say it, like “The Red Wheelbarrow” reads us!)

    http://poetryinc.net/index.php?topic=8.msg3246#msg3246

  5. thomasbrady said,

    November 29, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Christopher,

    You mentioned Enosis by Christopher P. Cranch, the Transcendentalist poet (who is T.S. Eliot’s grand-uncle) and that poem should be in the top 100. I was considering Cranch, but I forgot that poem–which is a good one. (oops, bad good one.)

    Thanks for linking that Levine episode from Foetry.com, March 2007.

    That was a great turning point for us–that was our historical crossroads–which led to Houlihan’s letter in ‘Poets & Writers,’ our banning from Harriet, all the way to Scarriet and its stunning success.

    You were naturally hesitant, as a wounded gentleman–to pursue the whole Levine insult, but when it became apparent that Foetry was an actual science, that the wrong in po-biz could be found by studying texts (i.e. Levine’s poetry) you warmed with all your intelligence to the fight—feeling and thought joined forces—and then the clincher (like a miracle that fell in our laps) was when AGNI’s editor expressed remorse for publishing Levine right there on Foetry.com, and I believe that’s when Levine’s foetic business partner Houlihan really stood up and took notice–suddenly it felt like good was possible, that there were some sensitive souls in the world; nothing’s been the same in our lives since.

    Thomas

  6. thomasbrady said,

    November 29, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    It is not straying from the point of the Good Bad Poem to pursue the Levine Poetry Critique in light of our inquiries in general since Foetry.com came into existence roughly four years ago.

    Let us look at John Crowe Ranson’s 1938 essay “Poets Without Laurels” (reprinted in Praising it New: the Best of the New Criticism, Garrick Davis, editor).

    Ransom, the leading American academic of his day, gives explicit reasons in this essay why the “modern” reader (the reader of the 1930s–Ransom was born in the 19th century) can no longer appreciate Byron–i.e., the Good Bad poem.

    According to Ransom—not a scientist himself—Specialization (he dubs it Puritanism, interestngly enough) in all areas of life had separated poetry and science.

    Now, the Good Bad poem—what the new academic professional reader (and writer) of poetry is no longer able to appreciate (and Ransom cites Eliot’s Dissociation of Sensibility)—the Good Bad poem is where the Moral element and the Aesthetic element are not integrated, not a true compound.

    Ransom offers a chemistry example: Lemonade is a mixture of lemon and sugar–one can taste both. Salt, (which Ransom points out, is found in nature,) is a compound of Na and Cl, that, when separated, does not taste like salt. In the Good Bad poem, according to Ransom (and Eliot would agree) there is often not even a mixture of M and A (moral, aesthetics); they lie side by side, as two separate elements, obvious as can be. This is why the poem is ‘bad.’

    Foetics, however, introduces a third element in order to separate out the other two.

    The Moral element of Levine’s poem and the Aesthetic element of Levine’s poem were chemically unraveled by focusing on the third point of the Triangle hidden in the chemical compound–the poet himself: Levine.

    The professionalized, academic Modernity of Ransom’s vision, which has come to pass in the postwar Writing Program era, is now coming under the ‘chemical’ scrutiny of Foetics, just as the Good Bad Poem was deconstructed by Modernism/New Criticism.

    The result of this is anyone’s guess.

    Foetics is the new program era poetic theory.

    Foetics is the new ‘Modernity’ (even as it explicitly rejects such a term, since it quesitions the very modernism of ‘Modernism’ (invented by men born in the 19th century).

    Foetics was born in March, 2007.

    Eliot and Pound both explicitly rejected Romanticism, essentially characterizing it as a Good Bad Poem era. As Ransom boasts, “Technically, [modern poets] are quite capable of writing the old compound poetry [Romantic poetry, poetry that is not obscure or difficult or baffling] but they cannot bring themselves to do it; or rather, when they have composed it in unguarded moments, as modern poets sometimes do, they are under necessity of destroying it immediately.” –Ransom, “Poets Without Laurels.”

    This is the chief problem with the modern poet–their secret murderous impulses; what is most important to them is not what they express, but what they are not allowed to express.

  7. Christopher Woodman said,

    November 30, 2009 at 4:10 am

    Yes indeed, Tom, I see just what you mean. And what an irony it is that ‘Modernism’ should be the product of a “murderous impulse,” and that ‘Foetics’ should have been born out of that equally murderous moment when Joan Houlihan and her friends dismissed us as “losers” who “misunderstood the whole process of editing and publishing poetry in America!”

    Like John Gotti said about law enforcement!

    ~

    You potted our history very nicely in your penultimate comment, Tom, but I want to add just a bit more to make sure it’s not just us who really understands the whole process of editing and publishing poetry in America as Joan Houlihan sees it — or not the whole process, but the power structures a critic like Joan Houlihan is able to influence.

    ~

    So, first of all, Bin Ramke got caught by Foetry red-handed with his trousers down and Jorie Graham blushing beside him, then Jeffrey Levine’s letter arrived in a great many mailboxes and facsimiles sprouted up on-line for everyone to see and judge for themselves. Hot news indeed, and mainstream Kevin Larimer, the Editor at Poets & Writers, felt able to give Foetry prime-time space in a complimentary lead in the magazine, and all hell broke loose.

    All hell broke loose? Well, we’ll never really know if all hell broke loose or not, because not much of even the smoke ever appeared in public — though we feel pretty sure the boardrooms at P&W and the AoAP and eventually The Poetry Foundation we’re flaming out of control. All the public knew was that right afterwards Kevin Larimer published Joan Houlihan’s dismissal of the whole Foetry Movement in another prime-time slot — “losers!” she said, etc. On the other hand, the public did NOT know that Kevin Larimer also rejected letters of rebuttal from those Joan Houlihan had accused of smear tactics à la Joe McCarrthy — i.e. suggesting Foetry was under the bed of American poetry! [click here for A Short History of all that].

    And it snowballed from there. Thomas Brady as ‘Monday Love’ and myself as ‘A Commoner,’ the authors of some of the rejected letters, were banned by Pw.org (yes, banned from “The Speakeasy” as the P&W Forum is called — if you can believe it!) and then almost immediately came under very strict ‘moderating’ as soon as they arrived on Poets.org (the Forum of the Academy of American Poets, and the largest on-line poetry site in the world!). A week later ‘A Commoner’ (yours truly) was banned from Poets.org for writing “abusive” letters to the management, none of which ever surfaced, whereas all he had done is just mention in a public comment “The Contemporary Poetry Series,” “The Tupelo Press,” and “The Colrain Manuscript Conferences” in one breath — and I mean just mentioned them, not discussed them or even criticized them [you can’t click herebecause all my incriminating comments were deleted along with their whole threads — what a self-serving policy!].

    Yes, just mentioned them in passing in a comment, and just once — and poof, A Commoner (me) was disconnected.

    After considerable public protest I was not only re-instated at Poets.org but allowed to start a new thread called “On Aspiring Writers Becoming Successful Writers” — which in time became the longest and most dynamic thread Poets.org has ever hosted. Today it stands at 259 comments and 79,704 visits!

    Two weeks later A Commoner (still me) just mentioned in passing “a mansion in the Berkshires for the weekend” [click herenot deleted because the thread was so extraordinarily popular and, one suspects, because Kaltica was so much involved!] and the lights went out for the second time — poof, within minutes. And that time I was banned once and for all, and of course accused yet again of writing abusive letters to the management and hi-jacking the threads!

    And my Thai wife got banned too for defending me with naive but unanswerable rhetoric (she’s a Traditional Medicine Doctor in Chiang Mai)!

    So of course we all suspected influence behind the scenes at Poets.org just like at Pw.org, but couldn’t come up with a smoking gun until it was quietly announced on the Tupelo Press website that Robin Beth Schaer, the On-Line Editor at the AoAP, had just been shortlisted for the “Snowbound Chapbook Series Award” by Jeffrey Levine — who was also just publishing Joan Houlihan’s new book (which I like) and Jorie Graham’s daughter’s new book as well, written while an undergraduate at Harvard and blurbed at MIT (I haven’t read it and do wish it well — its quality is not the point of this history, just the fact that everybody Joan Houlihan defended in her famous letter in P&W trashing Foetry was smack-bang in the middle of her stable!)

    And Chrisiekl, the Poets.org Administrator resigned, Robin Beth Schaer disappeared from the AoAP masthead, and the very first time I mentioned the word “Foetry” on Blog:Harriet the comment was deleted. And then, of course, I got put on “awaiting moderation” at Harriet as well, crippling my ability to participate. And what for? You guessed it, writing abusive letters to the mangement and hi-jacking threads!

    And then on September 1st, poof, we were all in the dark yet again!

    Heavy stuff — and “enough already!” as in “am I right or am I right!”

    Christopher

  8. wfkammann said,

    November 30, 2009 at 5:02 am

    Sorry; I’m still back on the Good Bad Poem. Why the sacred cows? No Good Bad Shakespeare? The Mercy Speech? Tomorrow and tomorrow… ? I had to memorize these in my day. Keats and Shelley? Although Frost has popular poems are any of them in the same league as The Raven? Is it popularity you mean? Aren’t all popular song lyrics good/bad poems? What about German Lied? As far as separating morality and aesthetics, how does that work with Stopping by Woods e.g.? Is there a difference between the 19th and 20th Century good/bad poem? Poor Milton, the best of them all, doesn’t have a single good/bad poem? “And the band played on” is a “Popular” song. Not the best music or lyrics perhaps but very popular none the less. Perhaps you don’t mean good/bad but popular. Ginzberg’s Howl is about as good/bad as it gets, but few memorize it. Memorable; popular; great old chestnuts; war horses. What we would all like to write if we only could?????

  9. Christopher Woodman said,

    November 30, 2009 at 5:31 am

    I’m back on it too, Bill, and ditto sorry for the grandstanding post. On the other hand, any ancient mariner will have his say willy nilly, and I will have mine until at last there’s an apology or a silence and acceptance that signifies peace.

    Then we move on.

    That’s also what Scarriet is about — and we find it very exciting that we have a good audience at last and are moving right into the heart of the matter — the verse. Because that’s what interests us most, the poetry and how we read it, we the people — and if you want to know how serious we are about that go and look at Blog:Harriet today. Since we got banned there has been no discussion of poetry at all on Blog:Harriet, just shop and gossip. And now even that has dried up!

    Good points on “good” and “bad,” Bill — just where we need to be, and I’ll be back in once I’ve had lunch at the antipodes (your midnight!).

    C.

  10. thomasbrady said,

    November 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Christopher,

    Thanks for the recap. Newcomers need to be brought up to speed on this; we apologize to those who have heard the story before–but this is much more than gossip; unfortunately, this is poetry too, folks. It all connects. It’s all relevant.

    Bill,

    Good points. I limited myself to post-1796 poems, since this is what Orwell mentioned in his essay. I also did not include anonymous works or songs.

    You’re right: not all the poems on that list are explicitly ‘moral’ poems; in fact, Poe understood and helped to popularize Ransom’s thesis. Poe, however, was rejected by Ransom, Eliot, and Pound, the generals of the Modernist coup. To examine Modernist ideas is tricky, because the Modernists, by and large, were not scholars so much as self-interested businessmen marketing themselves and positioning themselves in academia for personal advantage. The whole issue is complex–foetic.

    Thomas

  11. thomasbrady said,

    November 30, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Click here>The Baltimore Sun: Light for All

    And if that’s not enough, click here as well!

  12. thomasbrady said,

    December 27, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Silliman’s Blog of Dec. 23 links to an article on the Poetry Foundation website by Harriet contributing writer Abigail Deutsch called “The Good, the Bad, and The Good Bad: Our Ongoing Fascination With Terrible Poetry.” [click here]

    Deutsch’s article on Good Bad poetry was published Dec. 8th.

    Scarriet’s “The Good Bad Poem,” was published Nov. 28th. [you’re already there!]

    Mmm.

  13. December 31, 2009 at 4:47 am

    […] This would have been fine if Scarriet’s Thomas Brady had not published a post entitled “The Good Bad Poem” just 10 days earlier [click here]. […]