Fore!

The swinging Brassie strikes; and, having struck,
Moves on: nor all your Wit or future Luck
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Stroke,
Nor from the Card a single Seven pluck.

— From “The Golfer’s Rubaiyat” by H.W. Boynton, collected in The Wit and Humor of America, Volume II, 1907

Limerick

A decrepit old gas man named Peter,
While hunting around for the meter,
Touched a leak with his light.
He arose out of sight,
And, as anyone can see by reading this, he also destroyed the meter.

— Anonymous

Limerick

There once was a miser named Clarence
Who simonized both of his parents;
“The initial expense,”
He remarked, “is immense,
But it saves on the wearance and tearance.”

— Ogden Nash

Ern Malley

I had often, cowled in the slumbrous heavy air,
Closed my inanimate lids to find it real,
As I knew it would be, the colourful spires
And painted roofs, the high snows glimpsed at the back,
All reversed in the quiet reflecting waters –
Not knowing then that Durer perceived it too.
Now I find that once more I have shrunk
To an interloper, robber of dead men’s dream,
I had read in books that art is not easy
But no one warned that the mind repeats
In its ignorance the vision of others. I am still
The black swan of trespass on alien waters.

That’s from “Durer: Innsbruck, 1495,” a poem by Ern Malley. When it was celebrated in the Australian modernist magazine Angry Penguins, its real authors, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, stepped forward. Not only had they written the poem, they said, but they had “deliberately perpetrated bad verse”: “We opened books at random, choosing a word or phrase haphazardly. We made lists of these and wove them in nonsensical sentences. We misquoted and made false allusions.”

The point, they said, was to show that modern critics had become “insensible of absurdity and incapable of ordinary discrimination.”

The critics insisted that they had accidentally created a masterpiece.

Lipogram Pangram

This verse is a combined lipogram and pangram: Each stanza omits the letter e but includes every other letter of the alphabet:

A jovial swain should not complain
Of any buxom fair,
Who mocks his pain and thinks it gain
To quiz his awkward air.

Quixotic boys who look for joys
Quixotic hazards run;
A lass annoys with trivial toys,
Opposing man for fun.

A jovial swain might rack his brain,
And tax his fancy’s might;
To quiz is vain, for ’tis most plain
That what I say is right.

— W.S. Walsh, Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities, 1892

“A Sonnet on a Monkey”

O lovely O most charming pug
Thy graceful air and heavenly mug
The beauties of his mind do shine
And every bit is shaped so fine
Your very tail is most divine
Your teeth is whiter than the snow
You are a great buck and a bow
Your eyes are of so fine a shape
More like a christian’s than an ape
His cheeks is like the rose’s blume
Your hair is like the raven’s plume
Your nose’s cast is of the roman
He is a very pretty woman
I could not get a rhyme for roman
And was obliged to call him woman.

— Marjory Fleming, age 8 (1803-1811)

Clerihews

A clerihew is a four-line humorous verse about a well-known person. They’re named for Edmund Clerihew Bentley, who invented them, and they get pretty erudite, for some reason:

Sir Karl Popper
Perpetrated a whopper
When he boasted to the world that he and he alone
Had toppled Rudolf Carnap from his Vienna Circle throne.
(by Armand T. Ringer)

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls,
Say I am designing St Paul’s.”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Lived upon venison;
Not cheap, I fear,
Because venison’s dear.
(credited to Louis Untermeyer)

George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.

The world’s densest clerihew was composed, over breakfast, by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, in honor of New Yorker poetry editor Howard Moss. It manages to rhyme the names of three people in four lines:

To the Poetry Editor of the New Yorker

Is Robert Lowell
Better than Noël
Coward,
Howard?

Cadaeic Cadenza

Opening excerpt from “Cadaeic Cadenza,” a short story written in 1996 by Mike Keith:

One

A Poem: A Raven
Midnights so dreary, tired and weary,
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap — the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber’s antedoor.
“This,” I whispered quietly, “I ignore.” …

If you write out the number of letters in each word, they form the first 3,834 digits of pi.