As those of you who read this blog regularly (Hi, Mom) know, I’m a sucker for a bad movie. Bad books, by contrast, fail to slay me. I would no sooner read Atlas Shrugged or Left Behind than I would flay myself alive with sharpened seashells. Bad movies make me laugh. Bad books convince me that I’m not only capable of murder, but also that I should seek out the author and give homicide a whirl.
Though bad prose often leads me to sharpen blades and mutter to myself, bad poetry refreshes my sense of humor. I’ve just discovered a wonderfully awful bad 19th century poet: Theophile Mazials.
“A Tragedy,” by Theophile Marzials
The barges down in the river flop.
From the slimy branches the grey drips drop…
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop…
And my head shrieks – “Stop”
And my heart shrieks – “Die.”…
Ugh! yet I knew – I knew
If a woman is false can a friend by true?
It was only a lie from beginning to end—
My Devil – My “friend.”…
So what do I care,
And my head is empty as air –
I can do,
I can dare
The barges flop
I can dare, I can dare!
And let myself all run away with my head
The talent required to write a poem this bad is almost Ed Woodian.
And if only the Vogons had known of Ford Emerson Brooks, they might have scheduled us for demolition a century earlier:
The Stuttering Lover
I luh-love you very well,
Much mu-more than I can tell.
With a lu-lu-lu-lu-lu-love I cannot utter;
I kn-know just what to say
But my tongue gets in the way,
And af-fe-fe-fe-fe-fection’s bound to stutter!
When a wooer wu-wu-woos,
And a cooer cu-cu-coos,
Till his face is re-re-red as a tomato,
Take his heart in bi-bi-bits,
Every portion fi-fi-fits,
Though his love song su-su-seem, somewhat staccato!
I’ll wu-worship you, of course,
And nuh-never get divorce,
Though you stu-stu-stu-stu-storm in angry weather;
For whu-when you’re in a pique,
So muh-mad you cannot speak,
We’ll be du-du-du-du-dumb then both together.
Yep. A century ago Ford Emerson Brooks wrote those lines, leaned back, and with a satisfied cock of the head said, “My work is done.”