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« A Poet's Glossary: Baroque and the Plain Style [by Edward Hirsch] | Main | Bob Dylan Forecasts the 2016 Presidential Election [by David Lehman] »

April 07, 2014


I've always like Ralston McTodd's "Across the pale parabola of joy..." from Songs of Squalor. This is cheating, of course.

the green bottle
in the alley
into jagged fragments,
each one a weapon

the green bottle
in the alley
into jagged fragments,
each one a weapon

I'm not sure if this counts, but Lord Byron repeatedly forced a lot of bad lines into existence by forcing us to call the infamous Don Juan, Don Jew-ahn. So, the first stanza of the first canto kicks us off:

I want a hero: an uncommon want,
When every year and month sends forth a new one,
Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,
The age discovers he is not the true one;
Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,
I 'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan—
We all have seen him, in the pantomime,
Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.

Hilariously bad rhyme makes for brilliant bad lines, in my opinion!

That's a great point, Amanda, and especially applicable to Byron with his multi-syllablic rhymes with accent on the next to last foot. Reading "Don Juan" you never think of lines in the same sense as when you consider the lines in one of Keats's odes. In his person the most Romantic, in his verse the least conventional of the Romantics: Byron. When I read Baudelaire I feel I am reading Byron translated into classical French with a Roman Catholic background and a bad conscience unlike the handsome lord with the limp who had to diet to keep in shape.

Worst book title: "Sullen Weedy Lakes."

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