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Understanding Poetry: Doggerel

This poetry type is just completely bad verse. I say that with complete honesty, because doggerel is unintentionally filled with humor but the verse is filled with cliches, a slight clumsiness within the syntax throughout the stanza. This specific type of poetry really holds no literary value so to speak; the writer and the reader both understand that the verse is essentially bad poetry, but is often enjoyed for the realness which it may captivate and the point which it often makes. The term doggerel was coined in the 1630's meaning that it was unfit for anyone but dogs.


doggerell late 14c. (adj.); 1630s (n.), probably from dog + pejorative suffix -rel and applied to bad poetry perhaps with a suggestion of puppyish clumsiness, or being fit only for dogs. Attested as a surname from mid-13c., but the sense is not evident. (Etymology Dictionary, 2011)

Example:


The Tay Bridge Disaster

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

~by William McGonagall

Note that the doggerel is no excuse to simply write bad poetry and just be content with it. Even doggerel has a distinct place in the forms of poetry and holds a specific and unique quality which people adore: humor, cliches, truth.

-brr

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