Doggerel

Doggerel

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Encyclopedia
Doggerel is a derogatory term for verse
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

 considered of little literary
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 value. The word probably derived from dog, suggesting either ugliness, puppyish clumsiness, or unpalatability (as in food fit only for dogs) in the 1630s.

Variants


Doggerel might have any or all of the following failings:
  • trite, cliché
    Cliché
    A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning,...

    , or overly sentimental content
  • forced or imprecise rhyme
    Rhyme
    A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

    s
  • faulty meter
    Meter (poetry)
    In poetry, metre is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse metre, or a certain set of metres alternating in a particular order. The study of metres and forms of versification is known as prosody...

  • misordering of words to force correct meter
  • trivial subject
  • inept handling of subject

Usage


As early as the late fourteenth century, Harry Bailey interrupts Chaucer's unendurable Tale of Sir Topas, calling it "rhyme doggerel."
Sir Thopas was a doughty swain,
White was his face as paindemain,
His lippes red as rose.
His rode is like scarlet in grain,
And I you tell in good certain
He had a seemly nose.

His hair, his beard, was like saffroun,
That to his girdle reach'd adown,
His shoes of cordewane:
Of Bruges were his hosen brown;
His robe was of ciclatoun,
That coste many a jane.


Doggerel is usually the sincere product of poetic incompetence, and only unintentionally humorous, as with the work of Julia A. Moore
Julia A. Moore
Julia Ann Moore, the "Sweet Singer of Michigan", born Julia Ann Davis in Plainfield Township, Kent County, Michigan , was an American poet, or more precisely, poetaster...

, the "sweet singer of Michigan":
Andrew was a little infant,
And his life was two years old;
He was his parents' eldest boy,
And he was drowned, I was told.
His parents never more can see him
In this world of grief and pain,
And Oh! they will not forget him
While on earth they do remain.
On one bright and pleasant morning
His uncle thought it would be nice
To take his dear little nephew
Down to play upon a raft,
Where he was to work upon it,
An this little child would company be --
The raft the water rushed around it,
Yet he the danger did not see.

This little child knew no danger --
Its little soul was free from sin --
He was looking in the water,
When, alas, this child fell in.
Beneath the raft the water took him,
For the current was so strong,
And before they could rescue him
He was drowned and was gone.

Oh! how sad were his kind parents
When they saw their drowned child,
As they brought him from the water,
It almost made their hearts grow wild.
Oh! how mournful was the parting
From that little infant son.
Friends, I pray you, all take warning,
Be careful of your little ones.


The term is one of critical judgment rather than technical description, and readers may differ as to whether it is properly applied to a given poem. For example, the poetry of William Topaz McGonagall
William Topaz McGonagall
William Topaz McGonagall was a Scottish weaver, doggerel poet and actor. He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of or concern for his peers' opinions of his work....

 is also remembered with affection by many despite its seeming technical flaws, as in his ode
Ode
Ode is a type of lyrical verse. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist...

 on the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Alas! England now mourns for her poet that's gone-
The late and the good Lord Tennyson.
I hope his soul has fled to heaven above,
Where there is everlasting joy and love.

He was a man that didn't care for company,
Because company interfered with his study,
And confused the bright ideas in his brain,
And for that reason from company he liked to abstain.

He has written some fine pieces of poetry in his time,
Especially the May Queen, which is really sublime;
Also the gallant charge of the Light Brigade-
A most heroic poem, and beautifully made.


However, some poets, for example Ogden Nash
Ogden Nash
Frederic Ogden Nash was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, the New York Times said his "droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country's best-known producer of humorous poetry".-Early life:Nash was born in Rye, New York...

, make a virtue of writing what appears to be doggerel but is actually clever and entertaining despite its apparent technical faults. Hip hop
Hip hop
Hip hop is a form of musical expression and artistic culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. DJ Afrika Bambaataa outlined the four pillars of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti writing...

 lyrics have also explored the artful possibilities of doggerel.

Doggerel has been deliberately used for comic or satiric effect, as exemplified by John Skelton
John Skelton
John Skelton, also known as John Shelton , possibly born in Diss, Norfolk, was an English poet.-Education:...

 (giving rise to a variety of verse known as "skeltonics" -- according to David Wallace in the Cambridge History of English Literature (2002, p. 798), "short rhyming lines of irregular length, which build up a spasmodic energy from a rumble-tumble of rhymes in a melange of different languages, in which dog Latin and dog English fight out the sense between them."
"Upon a Dead Man's Head"

Youre vgly tokyn.
My mynd hath brokyn.
From worldly lust.
For I haue dyscust.
We ar but dust.
And dy we must.

It is generall.
To be mortall.
I haue well espyde.
No man may hym hyde.
From deth holow-eyed.
With synnews wyderyd.
With bonys shyderyd.
With hys worme-etyn maw.
And hys gastly Iaw.
Gaspyng asyde.
Nakyd of hyde.
Neyther flesh nor fell.http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/deedman.htm


Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler may refer to:*Samuel Butler , author of Hudibras*Samuel Butler , classical scholar, schoolmaster at Shrewsbury, Bishop of Lichfield...

's Hudibras
Hudibras
Hudibras is an English mock heroic narrative poem from the 17th century written by Samuel Butler.-Purpose:The work is a satirical polemic upon Roundheads, Puritans, Presbyterians and many of the other factions involved in the English Civil War...

 lies behind the term "hudibrastic" style; he used doggerel for satiric purposes:
For his Religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit;
'Twas Presbyterian true blue;
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun;
Decide all controversies by
Infallible artillery;
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks;
Call fire and sword and desolation,
A godly thorough reformation,
Which always must be carried on,
And still be doing, never done;
As if religion were intended
For nothing else but to be mended.http://www.poetry-online.org/butler_samuel_hudibras.htm


In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in England in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written in the vernacular, characterized by...

, Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 lampooned popular literary tastes with Emily Grangerford's "Ode on the Death of Stephen Dowling Bots":
And did young Stephen sicken,
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad hearts thicken,
And did the mourners cry?

No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thicken,
'Twas not from sickness' shots.

No whooping cough did rack his frame,
Nor measles drear, with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.

Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

O no. Then list with tearful eye,
Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly,
By falling down a well.

They got him out and emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the realms of the good and great.http://www.poetry-online.org/twain_mark_ode_to_stephen_dowling_bots.htm


(Grangerford is inspired by Moore; see above.)

Shakespeare uses doggerel in The Comedy of Errors to help establish the intellectual and socioeconomic status of the Dromio twins (III.i).http://www.shakespeare-literature.com/The_Comedy_of_Errors/5.html

The American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 comedian
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

 Steve Allen
Steve Allen (comedian)
Stephen Valentine Patrick William "Steve" Allen was an American television personality, musician, composer, actor, comedian, and writer. Though he got his start in radio, Allen is best known for his television career. He first gained national attention as a guest host on Arthur Godfrey's Talent...

 took a similar approach: dressed in a tuxedo, he would solemnly recite such inane popular song lyrics as:
Who put the bomp in the bomp-ba-bomp-ba-bomp?
Who put the ram in the ramma-lamma-ding-dong?


as if they were odes by Keats
John Keats
John Keats was an English Romantic poet. Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, he was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement, despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death.Although his poems were not...

 or soliloquies from Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

.